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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

USA, a day late country and many dollars short

Martin van Creveld, The Israeli military historian has an article at his As I Please website by guest writer, Karsten Riise.  Van Creveld is an intellectual of note.  There is not much biographical information about Mr. Riise on the web, but that Professor van Creveld hosts him is an affirmation,

The article, The US Position is Untenable our current geopolitical situation.  An American who cares for his homeland can only come to one conclusion.  Our country needs to bring all it's troops, planes and ships home...yesterday.

Neutralists who have watched our country over the last several decades would have long come to the conclusion that our huge overseas footprint is a waste.  Whether if it was “all the dominos will domino if we leave Vietnam,” to “we must fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here,” it's all been silly sloganeering.

Mr. Riise, probably either Dutch or Dane, has not been subject to the propaganda that we Americanos have.  His piece is thoughtful and discusses what's wrong from different angles.

He begins with a graph and then explains that the Federal Debt as a percentage of GDP is set to go from 75% to 146%.  We neutralists are not all great economists, and I think his date is off, but such a number in the future is disturbing as the government usually underestimates the bad.

Should we be worried?  Since the demise of the USSR, it has not been the Nirvana we all hoped for.  Adam Smith said “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”  That was back in 1777.  The Brits have managed to hold on with varying fortune.  Can we?

Most nations muddle through dumb economic policies and then when they have no choice, do something stupider, or by accident, something smart.  We live in hope.

Mr. Riise thinks I'm part of the problem.  I resent that.  Just because I'm not as young as I once was, and there are more like me and less  young people to contribute to our happy and financially secure dotage is not our fault.

“The biggest driver of the US Federal debt is the aging of the US population. Today 15% of Americans are aged 65+. This percentage will increase by two thirds, so that by 2060 about 24% of the US population will be 65+. Until now, the USA has benefited from a young population. The strain on medicare and social spending of an aging population, even with the still limited entitlements in the USA, will be enormous.”

Hey we didn't ask to get old even if we haven't grown up, and anyway, my government can kick a can down the road like nobody's business.

Mr. Riise claims our infrastructure is third world level and thus we are becoming un-competitive.  China is building high speed trains like crazy and we don't have any.  We do have Acela, but that is limited in service, so we can give in on this one.  Worse, Les Chinois will probably build our high speeders when we finally get them.

Substandard education also makes us fall behind as our kids are not going to have the skills in worldwide competition.  At least, thanks to the current administration, they will know the right bathroom to use.

As people are less and less middle class and the the tax base shrinks, we can always make the rich pay their fair share and then some.  How will that work out?  According to the article, “Any attempts to heavily taxate (fiscate) the upper 10% (or 0.1% !) of the US tax base will lead to US dollar capital-flight, and acute economic crisis.” 

Embarrassing to us here in the Exceptional Nation, is that “The risk of starvation amongst the poorest in the USA remains high: In Obama’s presidency, one in seven Americans (14%) face the risk of not having enough to eat.”  The store shelves are not empty.  Could somebody be cooking the books on employment stats?

Well, there is an answer.  According to Paul Krugman and to paraphrase Edwin Starr's song, “War what is it good for, the economy.”

So there's not been a real recovery, the kids are dumb, the middle class is gone, the rich could leave, let's motivate the people with a crusade.  What could go wrong?

Putting aside that we have been on the warpath near a decade and a half, much could go awry.  Again, look to Mr. Riise again as he has detailed the problem with the war for prosperity plan.

The armament is in decline and shrinking. “The number of US ships and combat aircraft is declining, their average service-age goes up and their operativeness goes down.”  New equipment is often white elephant stuff.

“In absolute strength levels, the American military is standing still or going backwards.  The US military now delays military purchases in order to keep overall military expenditures flat the next 5 years.”

That is the most ominous aspect.  One hopes the poor GI in an outpost in Afghanistan doesn't get asked to wait a couple of days into the next month for his pay to stretch the budget.  Will we be able to afford the fuel for the last helicopter to pull him out when the d√©nouement becomes obvious to even the most obtuse neocon?

Mr. Riise goes on to discuss how the Russian and Chinese arms industries are out-competing us. 

His comment that “China is gaining the upper-hand in the Straight of Taiwan.” should give us all pause.  Since the 50s the US Navy has made sure that remnant of Chiang Kai Shek's regime would be safe and have an economic miracle.  More than six and a half decades after the rump of China became our ward, it's coming a cropper.

Has it all been for naught?  Does anyone believe we have a real chance to pacify Afghanistan, and other than resources to exploit, why would we want to?  Iraq to become a Denmark style paradise?  Nah, ask any Iraqi if that is possible, and he'll ask you how he can get to Denmark.

It ain't working and the king's horses and men can't put it back together as there are going to be less and less of them as we go forward.

So what is to be done?

A great conservative of the last century said it best, “Come home America.”   Actually, George McGovern would be rolling in his grave at being labelled in any sense a conservative, but the people who claim the label wouldn't know what it meant if it bit them on the nose.  The only true conservative or libertarian military policy is defense of hearth and home.

We all know how it is going to end, we just don't know the day or hour.

If you don't like George, there's always Freda.

“Bring 'em back alive.”

There has since been a rebuttal to Mr. Riise.  I shall get around to reading it eventually.  I have to say, however, in this century, life here in nowheresville has only gotten worse for my fellow lumpen countrymen, and without a change of direction, I don't expect it to get better.




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