The Corner

National Security & Defense

The GOP and the Israeli Exception

It has often been suggested, and with good reason, that Pat Buchanan’s campaigns in the 1990s prefigured Donald Trump’s. Trump has made the protectionism and opposition to immigration that Buchanan championed a much stronger presence in the Republican party. If Trump has not taken aboard Buchanan’s anti-interventionist foreign policy, he has at least shown great skepticism about foreign interventions designed to promote democracy and human rights overseas. Whether one likes or dislikes these ideas — or picks and chooses among them — you have to say that Buchananism has been ascending. Buchanan himself summed up his influence thus last year: “The ideas made it. But I didn’t.”

There is, however, one great exception, and that is U.S. policy toward Israel. Buchanan has, to put it mildly, not been a fan of the U.S. alliance with Israel. That issue has hardly been peripheral to his politics. He has returned to it in column after column. It has occasioned some of the great controversies of his career, as when he said in 1990 that the only two groups “beating the drums” for war against Iraq were “the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States.”

Republicans are now more pro-Israel, and more tightly allied with the Likud party, than they were when Buchanan made his first presidential run. President Trump is less Buchananite on this issue than George W. Bush, who in turn was less so than his father. To his credit, Buchanan is sticking to his guns rather than kowtowing to his political heir. But on this issue, which over the years he has given every sign of considering crucial, he seems to have had no influence on Republicans at all.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Elections

On Kamala Harris

Joe Biden has named his 2020 running mate: authoritarianism. American prosecutors wield awesome and terrible powers that lend themselves easily to abuse, and Senator Kamala Harris, formerly the attorney general of California, is an enthusiastic abuser of them. Harris was a leader in the junta of Democratic ... Read More
Elections

On Kamala Harris

Joe Biden has named his 2020 running mate: authoritarianism. American prosecutors wield awesome and terrible powers that lend themselves easily to abuse, and Senator Kamala Harris, formerly the attorney general of California, is an enthusiastic abuser of them. Harris was a leader in the junta of Democratic ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More

The Anarchist Storm over Portland

Stephen Peifer, a retired assistant U.S. attorney in Portland, Ore., sat down with National Review’s Luther Abel to discuss the state’s long and infamous struggle with left-wing extremist groups, why federal officers were deployed to Portland, and what makes the current situation in the city uniquely ... Read More

The Anarchist Storm over Portland

Stephen Peifer, a retired assistant U.S. attorney in Portland, Ore., sat down with National Review’s Luther Abel to discuss the state’s long and infamous struggle with left-wing extremist groups, why federal officers were deployed to Portland, and what makes the current situation in the city uniquely ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More
U.S.

New York City’s Downward Spiral

New York City must be one of the few places on earth where chaos nostalgia is widespread. Many were the laments, in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, that the city was “too sanitized,” “too gentrified,” “too boring,” “anodyne,” “suburban.” Often you’d hear people saying, or declaiming, that their ... Read More