The Neutralist

Why The Neutralist? The term Isolationist implies a narrow Fortress America outlook and is used as an epithet. The term Neutralist does not indicate someone hiding out from the world. No one calls the Swiss isolationists. The Wilsonian world view is old, tired and wrong. Our interventions have been less and less successful and now the failure can no longer be covered up.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Dan Phillips at Traditional Right discusses Neutrality

Below is the article Grasping Neutrality from Traditional Right (May 5, 2015).  His article is important not merely because it is correct, but mores because it gives the essence of the best policy, neutralism.  Neutralism is not just anti-interventionism (though it is that).

In reading anti-interventionist websites, one almost never reads the word Neutrality, let alone in favorable terms.  It is refreshing to read someone actually write the word.

Who is the author?  According to Traditional Right he is:

Dan E. Phillips, MD is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. His work has been published at Lew Rockwell, Chronicles Magazine, Intellectual Conservative, the Abbeville Institute blog, and several other places.

The link to the original article is here.

When I agree with someone on a political issue and I see him getting a bit carried away with his rhetoric, it’s easy to overlook. But when I disagree with someone on an issue, especially when we have essentially opposite opinions on a heated emotional issue, excesses of rhetoric really rub me the wrong way. After a while of dealing with it, poor argumentation starts to grate. Rational adults should be able to discuss an issue reasonably and dispassionately without resorting to illogic and ad hominem.
I consider myself very conservative, therefore I generally agree with my fellow conservatives. When I disagree with them it is often over degree, not direction. However, I have long been a noninterventionist conservative on foreign policy, and thus I frequently find myself at odds with my fellow conservatives when it comes to geopolitics. For the record, I don’t concede that there is anything conservative about interventionism, but that is for a different essay.
This has definitely been the case of late with the rise of ISIS, the negotiations with Iran, and the Netanyahu visit. For now, I’ll confine my observations to Iran, about which I have recently found myself engaged in several heated exchanges in various venues with people I likely generally agree with on most issues.
It is one thing to have a difference of opinion on a matter. It is also possible for people to disagree about the facts related to an issue, or to have a different take on facts that are agreed upon. It is another thing, however, to engage in bad argumentation. An argument is wrong when it gets the facts wrong, is inaccurate, or incorrect. An argument that employs bad argumentation is a bad argument, regardless of all else.
So, for example, I believe the U.S. should be neutral on the question of Irish unification. It’s not our problem. It’s not our concern. That does not, however, mean that I must hate Irish Catholics or that I am a shill for the Brits. As a Protestant I have certain sympathies, but I don’t think my sympathies should translate into official U.S. policy. But outside of certain circles, my advocacy of neutrality on the matter of Irish unification would not provoke those sorts of inflammatory charges. That the US should be neutral on a matter that is between two other countries likely strikes most people as common sense.
Take, however, the very analogous situation of Israel and the Palestinians and the broader relation of Israel to her Middle East neighbors. There my fellow noninterventionists and I also recommend the common sense position of US neutrality and disengagement, but the mere suggestion of this in the ongoing debate over Iran is very likely to brings immediate charges that the advocate of neutrality must hate Israel, love “Muzzies”, and is probably an “anti-Semite”. This is flawed logic. The conclusion is unwarranted because the premise is flawed. Of course someone recommending neutrality could in fact hate Israel, love Muslims, and be an anti-Semite, but these conclusions are not necessarily true and cannot be drawn simply from the advocacy of a particular policy position.
Daily I see on Facebook, or in my inbox, or in headlines at supposedly conservative websites that Obama must be a closeted Muslim who hates Israel and the U.S. and wants to see both destroyed because he is trying to reach a deal with Iran. I am no apologist for Obama who has been way too interventionist for my taste, and I don’t concede the legitimacy of the negotiations to begin with. I’m not sure how one sovereign nation with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy gets to tell another sovereign nation that they can’t have either, nor do I have any desire for the U.S. to play the role of global gun controller. That said, it is conceivable that Obama really thinks a deal with Iran is in the best interests of the U.S., as do most respondents to opinion surveys, and that he isn’t really a secret Muslim who hates Israel. These absurdly over-the-top declarations are unworthy of rational adults and mark the people who repeat them as intellectually unserious. I sure hope my fellow conservatives aren’t equally as irrational when they argue for tax and spending cuts, on which we agree.
No self-respecting conservative would tolerate without objection the charge from politically correct liberals that advocating the abolition of affirmative action and quotas means one hates minorities and must be a racist. Nor would they tolerate without objection the similar charge from like quarters that disputing the often repeated statistics with regard to sexual assaults on campus must mean one supports “rape culture”. But in both cases the liberal is making the same logically flawed argument that interventionists make when they definitively ascribe a certain mindset to a political or cultural opinion. If they can’t see this, they are either dense or aren’t thinking about it hard enough.
The hysteria related to the call for U.S. neutrality in the Middle East vs. the lack of hysteria related to the call for neutrality on Irish reunification (outside certain small circles) is clearly a reflection of the emotional investment of said hysterics in maintaining our current posture that is anything but neutral, rational, objective analysis of the issue. Interventionists should cite facts, challenge assertions, and dispute opinions. This is what debate is. But please spare me the flawed logic and ad hominem that so characterizes the debate today. It does not reflect well on your side.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chickenhawk Victor Davis Hanson knows an aggressor when he sees one

I was reading a blog post that linked to a Victor Davis Hanson attack on Putin.  Vic was essentially nominating Vlad to the Bad Guy Hall of Fame.

He damns Putin for many sins, but claims he is just another dictator playing the democratic dupes like violins.

In his two big examples of feint and distract are Philip of Macedon and Hitler.  Of course, every shill gets around to comparing the object of their attack as Hitler.  Phil, that's kind of new and a great compliment to Vlad.

The Neutralist also read Liddel Hart's account of the two rulers and their tactics.  Vic should have cited L H as his source.  Then again, someone might look L H up and realize that Putin is not really following the evil incarnate playbook exactly as Vic would have it.

Let's look at a VDH quote that is just a bit misleading, "Once the Obama administration had reset the mild punishments of the Bush administration for carving out parts of Ossetia, Putin went back on the move."

Mr. Hanson knows the Georgians were the aggressors in South Ossetia.  Vic also knows that the leadership in Stalin's homeland had, if not an overt greenlight, at least a not or wink from us for the adventure.  If he doesn't, that would be embarrassing both for him and National Review Online.  He must hope his and NRO's readers are not too aware.  The Neutralist will not comment on the discernment of NRO patrons.

And, how did Putin go back on the move?  Vic lays it out,

"Obama’s reset was a green light for Putin. Who in the real world of serious diplomacy shows up in Geneva with a red plastic toy reset button, complete with a mistranslated Russian label? When Putin soon sized up the Obama administration’s appeasement around the globe — from fake red lines for Syria, to a scramble out of Iraq, to chaos in Libya — he moved into Crimea. And then he waited."

Conveniently, Mr. History leaves some out.  Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt abetting a coup against an elected government.  This questionable move was what led to the secession of Crimea.  We Americans are touchy on the matter of secesh, but whatever we may think, bogeyman Putin did not send tanks rumbling across the border in  a brutal war of conquest.  The Crimeans were happy to be appropriated.

He goes on to compare Putin to every other evil that has existed and finds they pale in comparison to Vlad.  The only thing Hanson proves is he is no Thucydides.

Nobody at the Neutralist would petition the Vatican to open a case for Putin's canonization.  We caution readers who have read Hanson's diatribe to remember the agitation near Russia has a Western element.  This is a fact ignored by most news outlets from MSNBC over to Fox as well as most of the commentariat.

the question we ask again is why, in a supposedly free country, does the press speak as one with mere token dissent?  One can understand how in a totalitarian regime the media must toe the line, but why here?

Oh well, I've heard there is a book, They thought they were free.

If you run into Vick, Please tell Vick, it was Hilary who brought the reset button.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Z Man thinks about Iran

The Z Man has posted his thoughts about Iran on his blog.  It is a well thought out article and worth looking at.  Of course, the Neutralist likes his thoughts because they are essentially his.

He points out with clarity the truth about our MENA involvement, it has been a loser, and whatever else, we need to leave.

In theory, it is not a terrible plan. America needs out of the Muslim world. Whether or not it is a good idea to turn things over to the Persians remains to be seen, but history is on their side. They have been the dominant people in the region for 5,000 years, give or take.
That "history is on their side" is a good way of putting it.  None of the "right" or "wrong" side of history stuff.  No one can completely predict the future though there are some insightful people.

If history is on anyone's side, it is with a people who take the long view.  That is not most of our countrymen and women where two seconds ago is ancient history.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

From William S. Lind-America's strategy is there is no strategyu

William S. Lind blogs at Traditional Right and has been featured at The American Conservative and was known for his On War articles that are now archived.

On April 2nd, Mr. Lind posted THE VIEW FROM OLYMPUS: AN ABSENCE OF STRATEGY.  The author makes the point that in World War II there were some deficiencies in the American war machine, but the strategy was sound and that made all the difference.

Nowadays, there is nothing coherent, as Lind puts it,

As we look at America’s current role in the Mideast’s Thirty Years’ War, the renewed war between Sunnis and Shiites, the most striking impression we get is of absence of strategy. In Iraq and Syria, we are simultaneously opposing both sides, the Sunnis because of ISIS and the Shiites because of Iran. Similarly, in Israel we oppose the Shiites of Hezbollah and the Sunnis of Hamas, despite the fact that our alliance with Israel is temporarily suspended after Mr. Netanyahu tore it up, spat on it and burned it during his election campaign. In Yemen, we are opposing both the Shiite Houthis and Sunni Al Qaeda. Presumably we will now back the Saudis in their intervention against the Houthis. The Saudis intervened against the Houthis once before. It did not go well.
In that one paragraph, Mr. Lind kind of reminds us of the point  Bill Murray makes in the bowling alley about how would you feel if you were doing the same stupid thing day after day.  The working class guy he is hanging with has probably one of the few insights in his life when he chimes in, "That about sums it up for me."

We are doing the same stupid thing over and over and it's not working.  What does Mr. Lind suggest,

We need a strategy. What should it be? The answer is obvious, low-risk, and cheap. Stay out and let Mohammedans fight their own damned Thirty Years’ War. With the exception of France, who came in late, none of the outside Powers who intervened in central Europe’s Thirty Years’ War benefited from doing so.
That is not a bad policy.  He further suggests,
As I have written before, the demographics of the Middle East guarantee war, supply-side war. The region teems with young men with nothing to do and no prospects. So what are they going to do? Fight. Our safe and simple strategy should be to let–nay, encourage–them to fight each other instead of fighting us. 
The Neutralist differs in that we wish all people would come to the conclusion peace is better than war.  Reality is on Lind's side and it would be better they fight each other and not us.

I have a few questions about some of the finer points of the strategy,
That strategy places one clear demand on us at the operational and tactical levels: keep the lowest of low profiles. Local agents are a good idea; we do want to know what is going on. If some locals are planning to attack us despite our non-involvement, our agents can also be used for direct action. If some locals succeed in hitting us, then, briefly, we would go overt, with an annihilating punitive raid. Other than in that case, we would always appear to be five thousand miles away, which, lest we forget, we are. Geography is the starting point of strategy, and our two oceans still give us welcome strategic distance. 
I am okay with intelligence gatherers, but not covert ops.  We would be in their land and that means, without troops or a large footprint, there should be nothing to hit.  Any depredations on our soil are mostly due to a mindless immigration problem.

It's a small quibble.  Mr. Lind is a rare font of sense.  I have even seen him on Cspan.  Well only once.  He is worth seeking out.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Ministry of Information flack Corey Flintoff stands up for Christians, As they say in Boston, wicked shokah

Usually, NPR looks upon evangelicals as a bunch of crazed snake handlers. Ah, but Corey Flintoff on NPR has found some he loves or at least is not full of hate for.

These Prods are being oppressed by the separtists in Eastern Ukraine for not baking gay wedding cakes.

Well no. the folks in Eastern Ukraine are Orthodox (as in Christian) and are oppressing the Evangelicals.

Now, if they refused to cater a gay wedding in Gary, that might be another story.

All News is propaganda.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Oh to be young, Hayat Alvi is shocked we are losing gazillions in equipment

In a Reuters' article, Hayat Alvi, Ph.D. noticed,

The reportedly hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. weapons, equipment and supplies falling into enemy hands in Iraq, Syria and now in Yemen are more than just signs of strategic failure. Rather, they’re part of a long list of recent embarrassments, including the poor performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi military personnel when Islamic State invaded Mosul last summer, and the Islamic militant army’s confiscation of U.S. military weapons and supplies in the Iraqi territories it has occupied.
The lady is an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval War College. She specializes in the Middle East, South Asia and Islamic Studies.   There is a picture up of her and though it fetching, one notices the youthfulness of mien.

Those of us full of years remember the fall Vietnam.  The Vietnamese commies came out of that with a huge tank army courtesy of Uncle Sam.

One good outcome was that, yeah the taxpayer paid for that loss, but after that, we got to forget about the place.  We were done with them and left no forwarding address.

Hayat is to young to get that.  If we left MENA, they ain't coming in a carrier fleet to invade Long Island.

Ms. Alvi makes the case for neutralism,

The United States has unmatched military prowess for invasions and interventions, but fails miserably in post-campaign policies and strategies. It continues to have faith in supposed “allies” in the region, who usually end up undermining the very national interests that the United States is pursuing. This is because the United States fails to take into account that each state and non-state actor in the region — from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to Iran and even Shi’ite militias operating in Iraq — has its own interests and agendas that frequently do not align with the United States. Western powers cannot keep up with these growing complexities, especially in Yemen.

If we can't keep up with the complexities, it is time to say au revoir. 

Hat tip to Parapundit.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't think all the King's horse's and all the King's men are going to be able to put Yemen back together again

This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out [the Islamic State] wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

Little more than a half a year ago, the president claimed success, if not victory for the policy above. The Neutralist need not be mean in pointing out this, like almost all of the policies of the current and prior administrations, has come a cropper.

There is no lack of outlets who have talking heads and scribblers discussing the great disaster that is the rise of the Houthis.  After all, we now can't run that vastly successful, game changing drone war.

None of the pundits is suggesting we say au revoir and bring it all home to pursue a neutralist foreign policy.

As usual, the best commentary is over at Sic Semper Tyrannis.  Col. Lang and his Committee of Correspondence are discussing the question at length.

In a departure from the demonization, Col. Lang has opined,
IMO the Houthis are the natural allies of the United States in the world wide war against Sunni jihadism.  The United States seems blind to that, blinded by its own delusions concerning the "evolution" of history and the dust thrown in US eyes by the Saudis who fear all things Yemeni.
If the Neutralist stopped being the Neutralist and were elected Commander of the Unfaithful (i.e. POTUS) and wanted to pursue a workable policy, he would appoint Col. Lang to run it.  Alas, it would be just a moment, not matter how effective and he and the Col. would be gone in the blink of an eye.

I truly wish a man as wise as the Colonel and his associates would give over and support neutralism.  Anything else is at best an interlude on the road to a bad end.