NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Buchanan Is Right On Trade Sanctions

January 3, 2000

Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan is saying some interesting things against trade sanctions, America's all-purpose response for every real or imagined insult by a foreign power. According to USA*ENGAGE, we now have sanctions of one sort or another against 75 different countries with 73 percent of the world's population, including Canada, Italy, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Buchanan, although known as an anti-communist par excellence, has even gone so far as to suggest dropping sanctions against Cuba. He argues, rightly, that sanctions have done nothing whatsoever to change Cuba's behavior and have served only to strengthen the communist regime.

Says Buchanan, "Our embargo continues to give Fidel Castro a scapegoat for his own socialist failures. His dictator's grip has not been loosened; seized American properties have not been returned; yet, after 37 years, the sanctions endure."

Every presidential candidate knows this, but no one will say it because the Cuban vote is important in Florida, and those voters -- refugees from Castro -- are adamant that sanctions stay in place, whatever the cost.

However, there is another key voting group that knows better: Iowa's farmers. They remember too well the disastrous effect of Jimmy Carter's grain embargo against the Soviet Union and Richard's Nixon's absurd embargo of soy beans against Japan. They lost millions of dollars of income just so those presidents could appear tough and help them gain re-election.

It is too bad that Buchanan has now abandoned the Republican Party. It would be useful to hear this argument at the debates in Iowa, where it would have fallen on receptive ears and maybe given him a shot at the nomination. Coming now, as he battles dilettante Donald Trump for the Reform Party nomination, Buchanan's message is too easily ignored.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, January 3, 2000.


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