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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Krauthammer, Will, Trump and the Bozo Wars

Memo to Chuck and George; Looking serious, sounding serious is not being serious.

On Fox News Special, they pooh pooh Donaldo calling him a rodeo clown. Yah know, I've always thought the guy was at least giving that appearance. Was he crazy like a fox, using a garish style to attain goals?

I think he's phony. I remember hearing his commercials about how he, along with some guy who I think was named Kiyosaki, was going to teach me to be rich in some seminar or something. If I were a billionaire, the last way I'd spend my time would be going around the country, staying in motels, giving courses on how to be as rich as himself.

That said, our goofy friend is saying things directly that so called serious people merely dance around. We have no southern border and your man has noticed. That strongest field, as Krauthammer put it, is mute.

As to being the jester at the horse competition, one might point out, this is not the first rodeo for either Willie or the Krautster. Both lads were all for going into Iraq. Georgie was sure the reign of heaven would descend and said so in an October 8, 2002 interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose:

I think the answer is that we believe, with reason, that democracy’s infectious. We’ve seen it. We saw it happen in Eastern Europe. It’s just — people reached a critical mass of mendacity under those regimes of the East block, and it exploded. And I do believe that you will see [in the Middle East] a ripple effect, a happy domino effect, if you will, of democracy knocking over these medieval tyrannies . . . Condoleezza Rice is quite right. She says there is an enormous condescension in saying that somehow the Arab world is just not up to democracy. And there’s an enormous ahistorical error when people say, “Well, we can’t go into war with Iraq until we know what postwar Iraq’s going to look like.” In 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor, did we have a clear idea what we were going to do with postwar Germany? With postwar Japan? Of course not. We made it up as we went along, and we did a very good job. . . .

Kind of the crazy talk that would make a real professional clown like Emmet Kelley blush. Of course, wisely, EK never spoke.

Charlie was equally voluble and wrong about Iraq. He never admitted he was wrong, but changed the justification he claimed for the war.

DeTocqueville observed that democracy separated the generations. In our era, not only are the generations separate, but we are different minute to minute, if not second to second. The two pundits' words of a war ago are as distant as Rome's invasion of Britain. By the time you read this, there recent words will be forgotten by most and they will go on to speaking fees and other emoluments.

Krauthammer has not always felt so badly about Mr. Hair. His feelings about Trump evolve as he saw some dignity in the man once,
 Krauthammer took a phone call from Donald Trump in April of 2011 and somehow came away with the impression that Trump was going to make a genuine run for the White House. Krauthammer’s reasoning was this: “But as a person, I thought more highly of him … because of the gracious way and the calm and courteous way he discussed the issues.”

At least Will has learned something as he wrote in a column:

The last 11 years have been filled with hard learning. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history, coincided with mission creep (“nation building”) in Afghanistan. Both strengthened what can be called the Republicans’ John Quincy Adams faction: America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

What is lacking, as far as we can find, is the owning up that he himself has had to learn something. No admission of error.

It does boggle the mind that these men continue to be taken seriously. At least they should be made to wear greasepaint makeup and big red noses as they bloviate on whatever outlet puts them on.

The Atlantic's Peter Beinart, who supported the Iraq war and honestly admits the error put it nicely,

To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful. Amnesia is part of the reason why. If Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Benjamin Netanyahu knew that before denouncing the Iran deal they’d be required to account for their views on Iraq, they might not show up in the green room. If they did, their television appearances would take a radically different course from the course they generally take today.

We all know the accounting will not take place.


Ah well, On to Teheran.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sic Semper Tyrannis, the two Paddies write well about the Middle East

Sic Semper Tyrannis is one of the best sites about intel and foreign policy on the internet.  It may be the best, but as I have not been elevated to the papacy, it might be correct to not speak infallibly.

Patrick Bahzad's FOCUS: modus operandi of ISIS on the tactical level explains much about the success of the forces of the neo-caliphate.  Our takeaway from his post is that whoever is running ISIS, mama didn't raise no fool.  To quote,

One of the most important things to stress about ISIS is that this is an organisation that has learnt to fight and survive – despite heavy losses – in an environment where they were totally outmatched technologically and under the constant threat of US air-power. The other decisive aspect to their military capabilities is the input of former military and intelligence personnel from the Saddam era.

In its early days, "Al Qaeda in Iraq" lacked the military, logistical and organisational skills of the former Iraqi military and it had a hard time surviving the US led "Surge". However, what was left of AQI in 2009 had merged with the ex-Baathist element and had gradually morphed into a structure that had learnt its lessons the hard way. Renamed "Islamic State in Iraq", it was led by a group of people skilled enough to seize any chance to expand and consolidate their organisation.

I remember from back in the day Hannity or someone local waxing poetic about how they had an election and democracy had taken root or something.  Well, Sunni Iraq lives and even if we come back with a few divisions, they will probably go to ground and wait us out and Monsieur Bahzad can write this column again.

Of course, we are not probably going back with a huge footprint.  That is what the other Pat dealt with in TheBorg is Screwing the Pooch in the ME.  At the beginning of the post is the painting of a crusader knight fending off besiegers, but not for long.    Colonel Lang draws the not so subtle analogy that we are not serious about our ME strategy and uses the words of General Dempsey to make the point.

He notes the general says we'll fight on even if the government falls from the network of hedgehogs.  

When pressed Dempsey said that if the Iraq government collapses we (the US Armed Forces) will fight on from our "network" of Hedgehogs assisting whoever wants help and without regard to the wishes of "the government."

Col. Lang mentions Dien Bien Phu and maybe we are in danger of that outcome.  Were I a Sunni or even a Shia, I would not believe or support anything the US did there.  I remember how we supported a revolt during Gulf War Uno and then left the people dangling.  The Colonel has mentioned the Awakening several times.  We are not all that trustworthy.

Good luck with those lilypads.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bourbon Bob explains it all, again

Talleyrand said of the Bourbon dynasty "they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing". It is said so often that it is a commonplace. That does not mean it is never valid.

The royal house still reigns in Spain and Luxembourg. As to their learning and memory, who knows? What interests us here is that another branch of the dynasty has arisen. We give you, Bob I of Bourbon-Kaplan.

Robert Kaplan is a well known writer most famous for his The Coming Anarchy. It was a prediction that the world was going to hell in a handbasket and it gained him no little notoriety. His reputation has only grown and In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan as one of the world's "top 100 global thinkers."

His day in the sun included plumping for the Iraq war. According to his wiki page he ”participated in a secret meeting convened by then deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, at which he helped draft an internal government document advocating the invasion of Iraq.  He later concluded that the war had been a mistake and expressed deep remorse for supporting it”

How deep is that remorse. Well in a 2008 Atlantic article, he does express it, but it sounds if there are a few weasel words. In Iraq:The Counterfactual Game he posits that yeah it was bad, but it coulda been worse maybe, sorta if we hadn't invaded. Of course in 2008, the disaster didn't look as bad as it does today.

In a bizarre last paragraph, he plays a disturbing numbers game.

Most fundamentally, does Iraq meet the parents’ test? Can you look parents in the eye and tell them it was worth losing their son or daughter over? As awful as it sounds, quantity matters here, for it says much about the scope of violence that is unleashed for the sake of a higher good. If there were, say, 500 sets of parents you had to look in the eye, the answer might well be yes, it was worth it, given where Iraq is today and what might have been had we not toppled Saddam. But at more than 4,000 and counting, the answer for years to come will still be no. Counterfactuals can only take you so far.”

At what point would Bob believe the test a flunk, 600 troops 2,751, 3,999? In 2015, one hopes he realizes by now only one, as in the American equivalent of the bones of Bismark's Pomeranian grenadier.

He is still an interventionist, not so long ago calling for saving Moldova, not that the Moldovans really needed saving. It appears the Moldies don't feel the need as much as our Bourbon scion thought.

The man has failed up and continues to do so. He has just had a paean to imperialism, published in Foreign Policy; The Ruins of Empire in the Middle East.

Among the imperial entities about whom he thinks positive thoughts is the Ottoman Empire. He credits them with providing safe space for all the diverse groups in their domain. When things went south under the Young Turks it didn't work so well for the Armenians, but why quibble. He also forgets the quaint practice of Devşirme or blood tax. Young boys were stolen from mom and dad and forcibly converted to Islam to serve in the Sultan's military or civil administration.

Several times in the article he uses the word “collapse” to describe what happens when such regimes, well, collapse. If they were so wonderful they might not collapse. Some of them, Iraq and Libya did not so much collapse as were pushed. The results have not been as sold.

It is true that for certain periods of time various imperia have kept a lid on violence, sometimes as deserts of peace, to mangle Tacitus. It may be true that only the heavy hand works in the Middle-East. It is also a verity that they all end, including the last western effort of Sykes-Picot.

We shall probably never know if they could sort themselves out without us because we are, in terms of the old SNL skit, the creature that wouldn't leave. Our Bourbon-Kaplan played his part. He remembers a lot, but did he learn anything? His last paragraph says it all.

Back then it was states at war; now it is sub-states. Imperialism bestowed order, however retrograde it may have been. The challenge now is less to establish democracy than to reestablish order. For without order, there is no freedom for anyone.”


Come back Saddam, all is forgiven.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

US again putting in motion to supply arms to ISIS

According to antiwar.com:

Officials: Pentagon Quietly Starts Massive New Arms Deliveries to Iraq


$1.6 Billion Fund Being Used for New Military Aid Shipments


File this under 

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lest we forget

Memorial Day is over and all the speeches done by chickenhawk politicians are done and songs by non-serving cw singers have been sung, the reality is sadly with us.  Our wars overseas are doing nothing to preserve our freedoms.

The best commentary about the day was, not surprisingly, done by Col. Lang.  The Neutralist urges everyone to read it.

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.