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.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Not that I always agree. For example, there is nothing kind I can say about his support for the Libyan uprising.
It is with some joy that I read what he wrote at the end of a post on November 8th.
We can't afford this Defense Department. Change the foreign policy, kill the acquisition contracts, pension people off after shrinking the ground forces and come home.
I would guess Col. Lang takes some pride in his career and has done his best to serve his country. Still, as our situation reduces to its absurd, some conclusions are inevitable to the sane mind.
Read Sic Semper Tyrannis.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
As to his redistributionist economics and his dietary regulations, the Neutralist does not comment other than to express doubt. On his "Come Home America" slogan, he was profoundly right.
When he said that, the Neutralist was on active duty and had drunk the Kool Aid by the gallon. The bogeyman would be at the gates if we did not stay the course. All this while the Nixon-Kissinger team was looking for a face saving bug out.
We did bug out and it was better for us that we did (see America's greatest 20th century victory).
Unfortunately, we never got the message. I was just listening to a debate reprise where Romney was talking about being able to fight two major wars. Heck, we couldn't even handle both Iraq and Afghanistan and they were hardly the Wehrmacht or the Imperial Navy.
In honor of George, the Neutralist says proudly, "Come Home America." We hope the late senator has found peace. Unlike his country which is no where near it.
Monday, October 08, 2012
So the western press is talking up how the Turks are righteously resisting those dirty Syrians. The plot continues. It continues....predictably. One has to be naive beyond imagination not to suspect that this is contrived in the manner of, oh, maybe you want to look at the last post, "Since 5:45 a. m. we have been returning the fire..."
The fix is in, maybe. Maybe Russia and China and Iran and Shiite Lebanon can hold things together for awhile. If Saudi money and influence proves decisive, their will be a lot of dead Alawites and Christians and some Druze as well as a Kurd or two.
Then again, as a Neutralist, I don't see it as our problem.
For a more polished view of the situation, Eric is the man to read.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.Are the sentiments of an aggressive foreign policy. No decent person would agree that they express a moral sentiment, but some people have assimilated the message. In fact, one man on Planet Think Tank has been so bold as to, in a way, channel it.
Of course, no one would ever say something like "I follow the Hitler method" because Dolph didn't invent it. Any one who has ever wanted war and did not want to appear to be the aggressor had to at least make it appear that they had been attacked. Der Fuhrer took it all the way by dressing his men and having them feign an attack on German border positions. We would not do that.
Except maybe Patrick Clawson thinks we should,
Left out of the quote, he did say he was not advocating that, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down, some day one of them might not come up, who would know why? We can do a variety of things if we wish to increase the pressure... We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier.
It's pretty obvious that there is a desire for war on the part of neocons though they usually don't say that. Thus it is refreshing to see some honesty even on the part of a chickenhawk wonk. There is no hypocrisy in the sense of Rochefoucauld's aphorism. Not a pretense at all to any virtue.
His sinecure is safe. He will be able to continue to perform his duties as deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). No one will cross the street to avoid being associated with a war mongering nut case.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
"Oh spirit, we do not ask your name, but do tell us about yourself."
"I was the prime minister of a middle-eastern nation a hundred years ago."
"Oh spirit, why do you speak to us?"
"I come to warn you."
"Warn us of what?"
"Iran is within months of have weapons grade fissile material."
The Persians are close to getting nukes and always will be according to some.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Who really cares?
Let's just cut to what we do know.
I was about to read an article on one of the cutting edge web sites (aren't we all?) when it hit me that no one was bringing up one fact.
If Gadhafi were still in power the ambassador and the other victims would be alive today.
Without US Intervention, He would still be in power.
You are permitted to draw your own conclusions about the mindless foreign policy of the Bush-Obama administration without interference from the Neutralist.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Title of post by Laurence Vance:
The Answer to Libya (and Everywhere Else)
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
We seem to be pretty good at keeping ourselves distracted. Okay, we left Iraq in a huff because they wouldn’t give us a status of forces agreement that treated us as gods. Still, we found a way to get involved in Libya and are trying to get into the Syrian mix.
Stratfor sees that it is the Russian goal to keep us tied up so we can’t un-distract ourselves. With all due respect, to the very well informed fellows at Stratfor, the Russkies have several years, if ever before we de-distract. Oh, maybe sanity could attack and a sensible rapprochement between us and Iran could occur, but that will take awhile. Then again, Romney has promised to up any Obama ante so that’s a problemo there.
An interesting point made by Stratfor is that the Russians, either as empire or union was economically always a loser, but imperially, more often than not, a winner.
The last paragraph recaps well enough.
Russia has come far from where Yeltsin took it. The security forces are again the heart of the state. Moscow dominates Russia. Russia is moving to dominate the former Soviet Union. Its main adversary, the United States, is distracted, and Europe is weak and divided. Of course, Russia is economically dysfunctional, but that has been the case for centuries and does not mean it will always be weak. For the moment, Russia is content to be strong in what it calls the near abroad, or the former Soviet Union. Having come this far, it is not trying to solve insoluble problems.
Even if we don’t do stupid on Iran, as long as we are bugging China, we are distracted from Russia. The Russkies may not have forever, but they do have time.
Russia is the most successful loser ever.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 05, 2012
When I was very young, we were in the thick of the Cold War. The American, and I would think, the Soviet goverments felt themselves to be in a mortal struggle. Large military establishments were maintained in readiness in case cold turned to hot.
The war was not just tank armies staring at each other across the Fulda Gap. Proxies engaged us in Viet Nam and the Soviets in Afghanistan. there were other peripheral side shows with varying degress of heat.
Another front was one side or the other setting up and/or funding groups not ostensibly connected with either government. The Soviets had front groups such as the The World Peace Council and others. Supposedly, the CIA funded hi-brow publications like Partisan Review. The reader is asked to do his own research. It was such that Jay Ward, the man behind Rocky and Bullwinkle held a dinner with themed tables such as one for “All those who believe the Diners Club is a Commie Front.”
So the Cold War ended and as one historian put it, history ended. Maybe not. The Neutralist would have wanted our nation to bring home the fleets and armies and the air force, but it was not to be. We found a bogeyman in Iraq, or, depending on viewpoint, he found us.
That is not to say we left Europe. The end of the Soviets still sees divisions billeted in Germany and our continued activity in the leftovers of the two multinational entities, the USSR and Yugoslavia. One would think just getting the Russkies to leave would be enough. We had promised not to run NATO up to Russia’s border, but so what. Poland had to be Poland, even though that meant having secret rendition prisons.
But, we are the good guys. Everyone should be good guys. That’s where NGOs come in. People helping people be nice.
So the US is funding lots of nice people around the world guiding people of other countries toward the light of free, open elections with governments that are run honestly. Now I live in a state where the last three house speakers are convicted felons, so at the Neutralist, we are not sure we are uniformly the example.
To believe that we just love the world and that’s why this is going on is silly. In fact, the Neutralist, with our characteristic lack of effort have come up with a self evident law; No one sends lots of bucks and folks overseas without thought to the benefits accruing to the giver. Even in such beloved organizations as the Peace Corps, we would posit that is so. A bit murky there. Certainly, when it started in the Cold War there was some sense of countering the Evil Empire. Whether it still serves a geopolitical purpose, who knows, but at least it serves as kind of a continuation of summer camp for college grads who did well in Post Modern lit and can’t get a job.
So money is being thrown around to “to support what we like to call ‘universal values’—not American values, not Western values, universal values.” according to Michael McFaul, once the NDI representative in Russia. Don’t know about you, but Mike’s sentiments make me wanna sing Kumbayah.
The NDI is National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit U.S. agency whose mission is to promote democracy around the globe. Now according to the TNI article, NDI gets oodles of lucre from the Uncle Sam’s coffers. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, a doctrine we think self-evident, then why are these called non governmental organization. Well, TNI gives out the doctrine how that is so. “But Wikipedia helpfully explains: “In cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding governmental representatives from membership in the organization.”” Call me cynical, but isn’t that just a tad of a distinction without a difference.
I’m not the only one who feels that way. Mr. Merry begins the piece by noting that the United Arab Emirates have shut down the NDI in the UAE. the nerve! Why Hilary exclaimed, “we very much regret” the UAE action and adding that NDI plays “a key role in supporting NGOs and civil society across the region, and I expect our discussion on this issue to continue.” That last part, after the conjunction, “I expect our discussion on this issue to continue.” sounds a bit ominous. Was it slightly threatening? Why would the sheikhs not want something so helpful in their midst?
Mr. Merry has a reasonable suggestion, “But perhaps there’s merit in stepping back just a bit and seeking to look at it from the perspective of the receiving country.” Novel that. someone might have a different perspective than Foggy Bottom.
The truth is, NGOs are great meddlers. No one likes a meddler (unless, maybe they are on the take from said meddler).
Mr. Merry has it nailed, “For anyone trying to understand why this anger is welling up in those countries, it might be helpful to contemplate how Americans would feel if similar organizations from China or Russia or India were to pop up in Washington, with hundreds of millions of dollars given to them by those governments, bent on influencing our politics. One supposes it would generate substantial anger among Americans if these groups tried to tilt our elections toward one party or another. But suppose they were trying to upend our very system of government, as U.S.-financed NGOs are trying to do these days in various countries—and have done in recent years in numerous locations.”
One would think the push back long overdue and should not be surprised if the various targets compare notes and work together on dealing with all the little sinecuristas in their midsts.
Mr. Merry ends the article by writing, “crusades on behalf of presumed “universal values” have a way of going awry.” Didn’t we just “celebrate” the 95 anniversary into the “War to end all wars?”
*Mr. McFaul is now ambassador to Russia where one hopes he is behaving himself.
Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Apr 5, 2012): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/ngos-not-beyond-reproach-6719
Source URL (retrieved on Apr 5, 2012): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/ngos-not-beyond-reproach-6719
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Bill knew what a man needed to be considered great, war. Outside of killing a few Serbs with bombing, Clinton never had one. Too bad for him. His claims about balancing the budget are not going to get him on a top ten list, cause that’s the way it is.
Yup, according to historians, to be considered a great president, you have to have a war. To really hit the big time, you need deaths. Death and war are go together for great pres. rankings. Not just any death, but deaths of American soldiers really gets you noticed. According to Patton no one won a war by dying for his country. It was making the other poor bastard die for his that did the trick. Not if you want to build a rep as a towering figure. First in war, is better than first in peace.
Two economists, David Henderson of the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School and Zachary Gochenour of the Department of Economics at George Mason University have studied how presidential scholars do the rankings. Of course, everyone already instinctively knows how it works. Remember the movie, Young Millard Fillmore? Poor sap didn’t have a war.
Henderson and Gochenour’s work is valuable as it studies the positive correlation between war and US servicemen’s death. Now on the face of it, this might seem perverse. The historian might answer that the rankings are deserved because the great man successfully overcame a challenge. It is a difficult argument, and in truth, if a war is foisted on a president and he brings it to a successful conclusion, even with a high kill rate, is that not greatness? But what if the war could have been avoided without harm to the nation. A president who could have kept us out of war and still needlessly got us into war is the opposite of great.
The Neutralist has in other places stated that Wilson was a villain for getting us into World War I. I’ve heard the new Hoover book makes the case that Roosevelt did us no favors by sparking our entry into World War II.
People say, what about Lincoln? Well, he might have made the South the offer of reducing the tariff to the level that they could have lived with. Instead he increased it. It may not have averted the war, but he never made it.
That is the point. A war president could only be a truly great man if war was unavoidable. In truth, most of our wars were wars of choice. It says much about historians as a class that there is so much worship of men who were by a valid measure failures.
You’ll have to excuse the Neutralist, I’m working on setting up a War of 1812 re-enactor group.
Link to the Henderson paper here.
Hat tip to John Glaser at Antiwar.com.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
After the introduction, there is a discussion of what is Grand Strategy. We quote the following:
As one of Boyd’s closest associates, Chuck Spinney, summarized Boyd’s concept:
… grand strategy is the art of pursuing national goals in a way that improves our nation’s fitness to shape and cope with the conditions of an ever-changing international environment. A nation’s grand strategy is about its organic vitality and growth … or in Sun Tzu’s words, it is the “road to survival or ruin” over the long term.
This is not bad. so if we were to issue a report card on our Grand Strategy since 911, what would it be graded on the standard set above. The bogeyman OBL is gone, Al Qaeda is puported to be near gone, but the fighting them over there strategy has worked so well that Americans have to be felt up at airports.
The next section discusses Primal Grand Strategies:
We often see something like a grand strategy in the early years of some societies, when the people have a single-minded commitment to a goal, often just a drive to grow. A primal strategy is an expression of this people’s core beliefs. It is non-intellectual, with no need for theories and plans.
This could be expressed simply in terms such as Romulus did not lay out a system by which Rome would conquer the world. It was just get these hills and go from there. That primal drive took off, but it was not intellectualized.
The next section, Ambitious Grand Strategies – a Chimera for a Global Power discusses how, after the primal is over, a nation continues. The attempt to recapture the primal is impossible and the result is a system that cannot succeed. The words below summarize the problems a grand strategist faces.
It is hubris to believe that any person or small group has sufficient information to develop a plan on a global scale. There are too many complex, unknowable factors. Social factors, such as ethic and religious dynamics. Plus economic, military, and political factors. We lack the understanding to process the data into accurate patterns — a plan. That requires a science of sociology developed to the degree of modern chemistry, so that we could reliably predict results of our actions. Unfortunately sociology is at the stage of chemistry in the Middle Ages, when it was called alchemy. In fact, the yearning for a grand strategy is the equivalent to the search for the Philosopher’s Stone.
The next session discusses Barnett’s Grand Strategy. Thomas P. M. Barnett wrote and article for Esquire an age ago in March of 2003 outlining an ambitious grand strategy. The article, The Pentagon’s New Map begins,
LET ME TELL YOU why military engagement with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good. When the United States finally goes to war again in the Persian Gulf, it will not constitute a settling of old scores, or just an enforced disarmament of illegal weapons, or a distraction in the war on terror. Our next war in the Gulf will mark a historical tipping point — the moment when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization.
Barnet outlined a plan as to how US power would change a lot of countries. The two we have gone into have not heralded success for his vision. One only a fool would want to stay in and the other we snuck out of in the dead of night.
In the last two paragraphs of the section, Fabius Maximus has a good critique of the Barnett thesis.
Barnett’s vision failed in Iraq in many ways, but perhaps mostly in his assumption that they wanted to be like us. Liberating them from Saddam was good, but the recent elections demonstrate that most of the Iraqi people(s) reject our economic and cultural systems.
Is there a plan to conquer the world? Yes, of course. You could conquer the world with 150,000 men. Provided, the rest of the world wanted to be conquered. Hah. You see, it takes the cooperation of the losers. A brilliant plan that was impossible. Generals like those sort of thing. — Death Check, page 510.
After ages of nations and empires, one would think an educated man would be incapable of writing Barnett’s article. One wonders if Mr. Barnett has changed his mind. That would be a sanity test. We learn from a quick perusal of a wikipedia page about him, he still appears to be desirous of managing the world and is making a living out with a sinecure or two, if not actually doing it.
The next section, Why do Grand Strategies Fail? has a lot of common sense stuff as to why the grand vision does not work. It is best summed up by quoting two parts,
No single person or small group has the necessary knowledge necessary to do more than a cartoon sketch of our complex and changing world; and even that will be riddled with errors.
We all have biases, prejudices, and parochial views. These limit our ability to see and think broadly enough to shape a global grand strategy.
So, if you’re thinking about running the world, that’s what you’re up against.
The Seventh Section is worth quoting in its entirety.
(7) America’s Need for a Humble Grand Strategy
The point of this essay is not to compare our performance with an impossible perfect ideal, but to suggest that humility is appropriate when conceiving a grand strategy. Because, of course, we always have a grand strategy — our collective policy with respect to the external world — either by design or default. Perhaps we should consider building our grand strategy on lower, more solid ground. Consider these four principles as the foundation for our grand strategy.
1. Respect for other peoples, their values and beliefs. We speak of multiculturalism, but often act to impose our “universal values” (aka human rights).
2. Reluctance to use our power and awareness of our limited wisdom.
3. Defense in preference to offense.
4. Defense is inherently the stronger posture, and more appropriate for a hegemonic state like America. A kinetic and unpredictable hegemon disturbs other States — both friends and foes — exacerbating the natural tendency for other States to ally together against a it.
5. Firmness in response to clear threats.
Game theory shows “tit for tat” to be the most effective strategy in many games. Our system of international law, going back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, justifies military action only in response to an attack by another state — not preemptively. The Iraq War is another lesson in the wisdom of that policy.
As William Lind said, “So long as we are on the grand strategic offensive, threatening to impose our ways on every one else through military force, we will be defeated regardless of how many battles we win. Like Germany in both World Wars, we will generate new enemies faster than we can defeat old ones” (“Election Day“, 29 October 2004)
When I first read the article title, The Myth of Grand Strategy, I thought the author was suggesting that Grand Strategy does not exist. In the sense that most ideas of Grand Strategy are not so grand, it would seem so. At best the attempt would be better called, Big Ideas About Strategy That May Work For Awhile, But End In Failure Usually, or BIASTMWFABEIFU for short.
But, Fabius does believe in Grand Strategy, we always have a grand strategy — our collective policy with respect to the external world — either by design or default. Perhaps we should consider building our grand strategy on lower, more solid ground.
I disagree in calling what he suggests a “Grand Strategy.” As he is suggesting, a humble policy, not a mange the world concept, it would be better called “National Strategy.”
Stretch it out a bit and one can see it fits in with a Neutralist foreign policy. If you aren’t out there looking like a drunk in a bar and soberly are aware of your weaknesses as well as your strengths, you cut down the need to get in a fight by more than orders of magnitude. Not a bad policy for the individual as well as the country.
In the odd case where someone is coming at us absolutely unprovoked, the policy of firmness (part 5) works as well.
Harry Browne said America has a strong offense, but no defense. That is as true today as when hes said it. Harry said it before 911 and the event proved his point. A Neutralist grand strategy may not mean we never have an enemy, but it will mean we would have a lot less of them. After a number of years of not trying to be the indispensable jerk nation, maybe we can do away with some of our overwrought security theater. Maybe do away with the department of Homeland Paranoia. In all honesty, the Neutralist is not optimistic, but lives ever in hope.
I just wish Fabius could say the other N word.