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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Not even close, but certainly no Sigar-The latest lessons learned from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction is out

As mentioned in the title, The latest lessons learned from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR)  is out.  In the introduction there is a paragraph that says it all:

Our analysis reveals the U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of its stabilization strategy. We found the stabilization strategy and the programs used to achieve it were not properly tailored to the Afghan context, and successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians. As a result, by the time all prioritized districts had transitioned from coalition to Afghan control in 2014, the services and protection provided by Afghan forces and civil servants often could not compete with a resurgent Taliban as it filled the void in newly vacated territory.
Are there really any lessons learned?  I am guessing there are, but they can't be said or the the truth teller will be shown the door.  The truth is  there are three alternatives:

1. Continue leaving a garrison and pretend we are doing something.  That is what we are doing now.

2. Another surge with enough troops to destroy all our enemies.  That is probably impossible politically and economically.

3.  Time to say au revoir.  This is the only practical choice, but if we leave, why stay in the Middle East at all?  It's a debate we are avoiding.

Academic Thomas Nichols has written a book, The Death of Expertise.  In it he avers that the expert class, like Rodney, don't get no respect and that it should.  On Page 195 of the SIGAR report  there is a picture of what one would guess is the important people on the team and other government officers with the President Obama around a conference table.  They all look prosperous. These people and other staffers work hard to study what is going on and what must be done.  If they know the score, that nothing real can be done, and they are just saying only what is acceptable, it is an indictment of the Nichols' expertise class.  The Dangerfield Class of  experts only comes up with what has already been decided.

There are recommendations in the report, but no one expects that we will reach the broad sunlit uplands even if we follow them to the letter.

The Neutralist originally read about SIGAR at Colonel Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis.  He does not mince words, "This SIGAR report makes it crystal clear that the US lost its "hat, ass and overcoat" in Afghanistan.   We should wise up and go home resolved never, never to listen to the siren song of the COIN fantasy."

The Colonel is right, but you don't get to see him on TV as his is not the desired flavor.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Thanks Bibi for making The Neutralist case for us

Prime Minister Netanyahu's dog and pony show to prove the Persians are nuclear naughty was old wine in new skins, or something.

What he was really saying was we need a war.

We don't and we don't need one to suit the purpose of other countries.

Washington was right and we need to steer clear of foreign entanglements.

Bibi made the case for bringing the boys and girls home and staying out of another meaningless conflict.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fake News-No this is really fake news or is it fake real news, or something - Whose watching the watch dog?

Moon Of Alabama displays an AP tweet with the words, “Watchdog group says bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen show Iranian aid,”

The title of the MofA article says it all:

“Arms Research "Watchdog Group" Lobbies For War On Yemen And Iran

Slant is the right word.

The late Larry Glick would always say on his radio show, “we’re going to get the story behind the story.”  Let’s call that the sbts.  there is little true journalism going on nowadays, but inadvertantly, the mainstream will give it away somewhere in the article.

Indeed, it is only in the seventh paragraph that we get the sbts.

Michetti’s organization, an independent watchdog group that receives funding from the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Union to research weaponry recovered in Yemen, said it examined a fake rock bomb in January near Mokha, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the capital, Sanaa.

Watch dog does not mean a vicious doberman keeping evil robbers from stealing the family treasure while everyone is away from home.  Rather, it is a lap dog wagging its tale and barking on command.

One supposes that everyone knows in their heart of hearts that all news is propaganda, but that most people are happy to let it slide if it fits the narrative of what one prefers.   Here in the Nova Anglia, there are few who have not listened to someone breathlessly talk about something they’ve heard on NPR as if it had been given to Moses along with the Tablets.

This is, of course, another reason to we at the Neutralist push for a neutralist ethos.  There will always be a manipulation of news to go fight some war somewhere for some noble cause that will turn out to be not so noble in retrospect.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson and the Iran War

So we have the silly fellow, John Bolton, as National Security Advisor designate. One hopes that Trump is playing some deep 4D Chess game and Bolton is some kind of head fake.  That is probably asking too much.  His ridiculous thumping for an Iran war is not singular, unfortunately, but too much part of a chorus.

As we have made clear before, Neutralist policy on the Middle East is simple.  We don't have to be there.  Until someone can persuade us that Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Qatar is going to have a carrier fleet that can take several armies trans-ocean and land them on the Jersey Shore and proceed to take over the lower 48, there is no reason for a US presence in the ME to stop that.

Yet we lack not for hacks to go on TV swearing that we better get moving on the Persians or it is the end of the end, or something.

Someone might say, if we leave, the descendants of Cyrus would develop nukes and begin again the march west that was only stopped by the miracle of Salamis.

Well, we might want to listen to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson on the matter.  He gave a speech at the Israeli lobby conference sponsored by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy.

The tone of his talk was how misguided a get Iran policy is.  One thing he said that should give pause to those who think the beat up the Iranians project is a great idea:

... where Israel is headed: toward a massive confrontation with the various powers arrayed against it, a confrontation that will suck America in, and perhaps terminate the experiment that is Israel, and do irreparable damage to the empire that America has become. 

Maybe Wilkerson is a nutter and an Iranian adventure would be, oh, I don't know, a "cakewalk."  Did we hear that word in another life?  

Anyway, you can read the transcript here and the video is below.

Hat tip here where I first read the article.

Again, The Neutralist wants to make clear, we do not take sides in the ME.  All we want is for the United States to be left out.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Jen Cafarella wants more war. She writes for the Institute for the Study of War so what would you expect?

Again, with probably the same futility, we ask why are we there at all.

We're a little late on this, but

Moon of Alabama has written with a little depth about an article by an aspiring sinecurista, Jennifer Cafarella, at the Institute for the Promotion Study of War which if there truth in labeling, would better be called Institute for More War.

According to Jen, as noted by MoA, we have to:

The U.S. must rapidly change how it is executing policy in five key areas.

Russian military bases. ...Acceptance of Bashar al-Assad. ...Syrian “de-escalation.” ...The “peace” process. ...Iran and al Qaeda. ...

The hinted at solutions, couched in vague language, are for 1. nuke them, 2. kill him, 3. stop it, 4. who cares, 5. destroy 'em all:

Perky little Jen says:

The U.S. must face reality in Syria. It must recognize the threat Russia poses. It must acknowledge the limits of its current partners on the ground. It cannot put faith in a diplomatic charade. It must implement a real strategy against al Qaeda and Iran. And it must recognize the value of American action over American rhetoric.Two administrations have sought to substitute rhetoric for action and to outsource American interests to local partners.  The U.S. must abandon this approach and recognize Syria’s importance to American security.It will take a long time and a hard struggle to achieve any outcome in Syria that the U.S. should be willing to live with. It is time to focus on it, devote resources to it, and prepare to do so for a long time.
A couple of conclusions that we can take from Jen with that long time thingy is that she wants to make Syria into Afghanistan where we are, like her, not facing reality while pretending to.  

Also, the longer we refuse to waste time not recognizing what a waste of time it is, the more columns Jen and her ilk will get to write.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Poll shows Americans are not that crazy

Yes, Trump has quite the popularity and there are reasons for that.  They may not be great reasons, but if one is honest, they are understandable.  Hilary called a lot of citizens "deplorable" and the cool people around madrassas, er colleges think that way about their fellow citizens and along comes some guy who says to them, you're not as bad as those people say.  Yeah, he's gonna get some votes.

What is forgotten is that The Donald was the peace candidate.  Well, the not as much of a war monger candidate.  With his call to get along with Russia and not overly involve in Syria, he came off better than Hilary.  

Then again, Obama was a peace candidate once too.

Funny, isn't it, Americans want peace, despite the save the world rhetoric of politicians.

This should not be a shock, but to some it is.  On January 9, 2018, James Carden reported in the Nation article, A New Poll Shows the American Public Is overwhelmingly Opposed to Endless US Military Interventions,  that a group called Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy had released a survey that showed exactly that.

The survey found that “a national voter population that is largely skeptical of the practicality or benefits of military intervention overseas, including both the physical involvement of the US military and also extending to military aid in the form of funds or equipment as well.”

If you spend much time with Americans, you will realize that less and less are they drinking the Kool Aid.  They were told that we had to “fight them over there, so we don’t have to here” and then someone in a truck mows down folks in the big apple.  Granted, its statistically insignificant, but with our stirring up mayhem in the Middle East, one might wonder why it does not happen more often.

From the report:
The headline findings show, among other things, that 86.4 percent of those surveyed feel the American military should be used only as a last resort, while 57 percent feel that US military aid to foreign countries is counterproductive. The latter sentiment “increases significantly” when involving countries like Saudi Arabia, with 63.9 percent saying military aid—including money and weapons—should not be provided to such countries.
The poll shows strong, indeed overwhelming, support, for Congress to reassert itself in the oversight of US military interventions, with 70.8 percent of those polled saying Congress should pass legislation that would restrain military action overseas in three specific ways:
  • by requiring “clearly defined goals to authorize military engagement” (78.8 percent);

  • by requiring Congress “to have both oversight and accountability regarding where troops are stationed” (77 percent);

  • by requiring that “any donation of funds or equipment to a foreign country be matched by a pledge of that country to adhere to the rules of the Geneva Convention” (84.8 percent).
These findings are encouraging.  However, if there is anyone out there who regularly reads The Neutralist, they must know, that the last three findings are not, to us, perfect.

They leave the door open for intervention.  Remember how War Powers Act was supposed to restrain the president?  
Even if we withdraw from most current overseas involvement, without the development of a true neutralist ethos in this country, we shall probably repeat the errors again and again.
Still, it is refreshing to see that the people have learned somethng and that, unlike their government, Americans are not insane warmongers.  Imagine that!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Luke Harding - The Neocon blame Russia flavor of the month

The radio is mostly on when driving.  If out in the morning, two of the most powerful stations out here in nowheresville have Glenn Beck on in the morning.  Usually, he is not worth listening to.  

On the day in question, he was not worth it, but he was working at a higher level of disinformation.  He was interviewing Luke Harding, author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.

The two lads were having a lovefest with each other and a hatefest over Trump and Putin.  That's not that horrible as Beck is not taken seriously by the cool people.

Ah, but Terri Gross is a certified heavy hitter.  Her show on NPR is important.  She speaks with the interviewee with a serious, if low key tone.

Though I hear her not infrequently in the car, it is hard to say if she has ever been adversarial with guests.  With Mr. Harding it was certainly not that (link to transcript).  It may have not been the near French kissing that Beck seemed to be doing, but it did seem to agree with Luke in a let's get to the bottom of this tone.  She truly seems to be on team collusion in the exchange below.

But actually, if I'm honest with you, Terry, I mean, this book was quite easy to write because it is such a compelling story. It is like a thriller, but with bizarre elements, but just a kind of relentless plot. And I kind of wrote each chapter as sort of character by character so that there's a chapter on Steele, there's a chapter on Michael Flynn - who jokes to a Russian that he met that he was actually General Misha, which is Russian for Michael - and Paul Manafort, whom I met, and so on. And I - you know, the book, I think, came together in record time.GROSS: You know, you're right. Initially, Trump was happy to have the Russia investigation deflect attention away from his business dealings in China and other emerging markets because you say, unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks.

HARDING: Well, again, we can't prove this. But this is what the Steele dossier alleges. And it's based on Steele's own secret sources. And by the way, no one knows who they are, these secret sources. But I think one point, which is kind of very important on the sources, is that I've talked to friends of Steele's. And what they point out is that these sources were not new. They're not people that he kind of discovered yesterday. They are trusted contacts who essentially had proven themselves in other areas.
Notice after Ms. Gross gives him the you go guy, he does say, it can't be proven.  The whole tone is it's true even if there is not absolute (or any) evidence.
The session ends with,
There may be some errors there. But broadly, I think people in British and American intelligence think the dossier is correct, which means that Donald Trump is compromised.GROSS: Well, Luke Harding, thank you so much for talking with us. And thank you for your reporting.HARDING: Thank you, Terry. It was great.
You bet it was.
I am not a Trump fan.  Some of his campaign statements I liked.  Wanting to get along with Russia and not make more of a mess in Syria were good.  He is too supportive of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and making noise with the Norks is a waste of time.

Messing around with the constitutional order and doing what you can to take back an election because the guy is not one of the elite smacks of the late Roman Republic.  Responsible people would be wanting to shore that up rather than crashing it.

Luke Harding and his book have their fans for what it says about Trump.   Yeah, Terri, who is part of the Ministry of Information is all for him as are, no doubt, others of that brand.

There was a fellow who did ask Harding a few questions that were a bit less than smooches.  Look at the video below.

As it says on the intro page,

The Real News Network's (TRNN) Aaron Maté politely and professionally dismantles shameless Guardian reporter and author Luke Harding.

Aaron is a class act. Don't expect to see Mr. Maté on CNN or MSNBC, Fox, or dare one say it, NPR.