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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guest Post, Another Reason Why Our Foreign Adventures Do Not Deliver What We Hope For

The Black Sea left a comment on my other blog that he was kind enough to give me permission to post here.

In large part, our military (and policy) failures stem from two sources.

Number one: The American people really don't possess the necessary zeal for full-scale imperialism. Yes, yes, we're willing to turn a blind eye to our leaders interventions abroad (so long as we or our children don't have to paqrticipate directly), but we're made a bit queasy by such activities, and we'd rather not know the details of what's actually involved. Ours isn't the sort of poulation that will, with enthusiasm, engage in sustained imperial adventures. We're perfectly comfortable with idea of Walmart spreading globally, but that's capitalsim, not military conquest. Resistance groups say that, with enough time and bloodshed, we'll leave; and they're right. We soon wonder what the point is, we don't have long attention spans anyway, and since we soon forget our own blunders, we assume everyone else will as well.

Number two: Our leaders insist on using military force for purposes which military force cannot achieve, i.e. altering the politcal and social structures of other peoples. Military forces can kill people; they can depose foreign governments, as was demonstrated with great speed in Iraq. They cannot persuade people to accept a political system which is inimical, or simply foreign, to their interests. This folly is compounded by the fact of America's alleged fondness for representative government. We then recoil, more in confusion than in horror, at what representation in other parts of the world produces.

We've no reason to believe that Muqtada Al Sadr (sp?) isn't a genuinely popular politcal figure with a widespread base of support. His miltias my be actively involved in kidnapping, torture, and extortion, but who is to say that this tarnishes his domestic image.

In short, we keep trying to use a chainsaw to conduct brain surgery. It's not going to work.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another Country to Adopt

Michael J. Totten’s Middle East Journal is a very good read from a man who is on the ground, actually visiting the places he blogs on. He has an article on his blog about the Iraqi Kurds and the government and army they have set up.

It is an informative piece. The Kurds have set up an effective nation in all but name. They have suffered since forever and if ever a people deserve to have a secure and peaceful homeland, it is the Kurds.

Totten is informative and brave. What is never answered by him, is why is Kurdistan our problem? In his piece he is told by Kurds, they want to be our friends. That is all well and good. If any American is stuck in Iraq, he would be a fool to want to be anywhere else but Kurdistan.

As an article it is good propaganda, unless you ask the question why a US- Kurd alliance. We don’t need one more set of dependents.

The Kurds produced the most sagacious Muslim commander ever, Saladin. They are an intelligent people. Surely, there are enough of them who remember their last great alliance with the US in the Seventies. Henry Kissinger sold them down the river over the Shah and the Shatt al Arab. The Kurds suffered horribly. It was as shameful an episode in American history as any. If the Kurd’s trust us, they’re nuts.

I hope the Kurds remember Lord Palmerston's axiom: nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests. Heck, I hope we learn it. Our country’s welfare, not the Kurd’s or any other country’s is our interest and it is best served by Neutralism.

The Kurd’s fighting force is impressive, but without an airforce or a very effective air defense system, they’ve got a big problem.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Jihad ain't what it used to be.

I am glad the Brits got home safely. It was all theater and the Iranians got the Tonys as far as I'm concerned. We don't have TV so other than a few breathless spots on radio, all I know is what I've gotten from the net. I promise that will never stop me from shooting from the hip.

One interesting article from Spiked Online. It seems media outlets in our mummy country were reporting wild Persian mobs calling for blood. The mob turned out to be eleven orderly lads outside the foreign ministry in Teheran.

I did see a picture of angry people calling for something on the Drudge site. What they were calling for, I can't say as it was a still photo. I guess they were Iranian because the caption said so. Just looking at that photo, I could tell that crowd was on something. My guess is Geritol. Maybe they have multiple dependencies and are popping Centrum Silver as well. Clearly the Iranian Revolution as a popular force is spent.

There may be only one thing and one man that can unite that country. A bombing campaign by George Bush. Maybe that is why the mullahs have not backed down. No matter what we threaten they seem to be defiantly yelling back at us, "Yeah, you and what army?" Maybe they think our land forces are so thin now that they can deal with an invasion. I don't think they are fearing a bombing campaign. Surely they have dispersed what needs to be dispersed by now. A lot of bombs constantly falling for a few weeks or months on what? Watever old armament they possess is probably more valuable to a scrap metal dealer than on a battlefield. No, the stuff they need to keep is the stuff that could turn Iran into one big Sunni triangle, except they are Shia.

Clark Stooksbury says it best, "Once you get past aircraft carriers, B-52 bombers and Cruise Missiles, our power is rather ordinary and we have racked up numerous failures to prove it."

Be All That You Can Be

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Kipling, The Young British Soldier

The Neutralist is going out on a limb and speculating that Faye Turney's recruiter never recited Kipling's verse as the proper attitude of the British serviceman or woman facing capture. We speculate the subject of capture never came up at all. Now as Yanks, it is possible that we have the Queen's forces all wrong and the selling point is the danger. Thirty years or so ago, it was different, but some got the wrong impression.

Colonel Come in, what do you want?

Private Watkins enters and salutes.

Watkins I'd like to leave the army please, sir.

Colonel Good heavens man, why?

Watkins It's dangerous.

Colonel What?

Watkins There are people with guns out there, sir.

Colonel What?

Watkins Real guns, sir. Not toy ones, sir. Proper ones, sir. They've all got 'em. All of 'em, sir. And some of 'em have got tanks.

Colonel Watkins, they are on our side.

Watkins And grenades, sir. And machine guns, sir. So I'd like to leave, sir, before I get killed, please.

Colonel Watkins, you've only been in the army a day.

Watkins I know sir but people get killed, properly dead, sir, no barley cross fingers, sir. A bloke was telling me, if you're in the army and there's a war you have to go and fight.

Colonel That's true.

Watkins Well I mean, blimey, I mean if it was a big war somebody could be hurt.

Colonel Watkins why did you join the army?

Watkins For the water-skiing and for the travel, sir. And not for the killing, sir. I asked them to put it on my form, sir - no killing.

From Monty Python

Watkins just did not get it. How kind of his colonel to set him straight that death might occur. Now, no war stories here, but thirty five years ago in the US Army, I would not have seen the colonel. I would have been lucky to see the first sergeant who would have been happy to explain that someone might be killed and by the way, that latrine might need some attention. I have left out some of the nouns and adjectives that he would have flavored the discourse with.

Of course that was all a long time ago and the marine recruiter,who spoke to my high school graduating class in assembly did apprise us of the opportunities, “We lost twenty five men on a hill last night and we need some recruits to replace 'em.”. It was a brave show and we all laughed. I doubt any recruiter is doing that these days, if they even get into a school.

It appears the Brit captives faced overwhelming force and resistance would have been suicidal. You might think that the captured British personnel would have defiantly given only name, rank, serial number and date of birth. I don't know if any did but Faye Turney spoke on TV

“Obviously we trespassed into their waters,” British sailor Faye Turney said on the video broadcast by Al-Alam, an Arabic-language, Iranian state-run television station that is carried across the Middle East.
“They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we’ve been arrested, there was no harm, no aggression,” she said.
Turney, 26, was shown eating with sailors and marines. At another point, she was seen sitting in a room with a floral curtains, smoking a cigarette.
“My name is leading sailman Faye Turney. I come from England. I have served in Foxtrot 99. I’ve been in the navy for nine years,”

Now, Sailman Turney I am sure faced duress and may have made statements to mitigate treatment of the other crew members captured with her. Had you or I been there and faced mistreatment I suspect sooner or later we would give in.

This is a problem for us and our Anglo allies (probably soon enough to be our non allies). It looks like it will be more so as time goes on if we wish to fight more of these little foreign adventures. Somehow, a “mum”* writing to her babies won't do much for a government's polling numbers.

The US.Army uses a computer game to recruit. All high tech and antiseptic. My son is a nerd and I went with him to Wired's Next Fest at the Javits Center in Manhattan. We were a bit disappointed as it was mostly just gadgets, but the display by the Army's Natick lab was instructive. They were demonstrating the completely connected soldier. I asked the guy in charge the purpose. His reply was that if someone needed to takeover command it could be approved at higher headquarters and they could keep tabs on the battlefield. Yup, those of you who were worried that there was an impending shortage of bureacracy in your nation's forces, be at ease. Centralize upward. Scene a few years from now: “President Pelosi, Spec 4 Lars Vijayswarti here. Colonel McSanchez was just killed along with everyone else in the Officers' Club Humvee and I am taking command. Over.” “Spec 4 whoever you are, President Pelosi here. Keep me informed and when you surrender, please observe protocol. You will be liable for any breach of courtesy to your captors. Over”

The Japanese were harsh on their own men in their fight to the death cause your dead if you are captured policy. I don't think it is preferable to honorable internment as a POW, but it beats being part of the Oprah show that went on in Iran.

Thanks to President Ahmadinejad the captives are going home. It was a bright move on his part, reminiscent of Paul Kruger's letting go of Jameson's buffoons. I suspect the Persians knew what they were doing. Brownie points on the world stage and they would not have to put up with whining self absorbed, entitled westerners.

* Text of purported letter from captured British Faye Turney to her family, including husband Adam and daughter Molly:
"We were out in the boats when we were arrested by Iranian forces as we had apparently gone into Iranian waters." "I wish we hadn't because then I would be home with you all right now." "I'm so sorry we did because I know we wouldn't be here now if we hadn't. I want you all to know that I am well and safe." "I am being well looked after, I am fed three meals a day and I'm in constant supply of fluids." "The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm." "I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering into their waters." "Please don't worry about me. I'm staying strong. Hopefully it won't be long till I'm home to get ready for Molly's birthday party and with a present from the Iranian people." "Look after everyone for me, especially Adam and Molly, I love you all more than you will ever know."

Not wanting to be overly tough on Faye, but is that why you spend a lot of time on a ship on the other side of the world when you love them more than they will ever know. Not wanting to sound sexist, well not caring all that much if I do, but she does not look like the type one would say, “Yer mother wears combat boot,” about. There was a reason why armies had men with tough guy personnae. Oh well, at least she had her constant supply of fluids.