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, February 29, 2008

George Friedman and the Good War

George Friedman at Stratfor reminds us that there is still a place called Afghanistan and we are still there. Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and the Good War is kind of bad form on his part. He shouldn't be bringing this up and disturbing our collective thoughts, but that's his job. If the world were perfect, Stratforians would not have much to occupy their time.

I think the gist is, we are there, it's not going to get better, and we are going to be staying. He sums it up,

If the endgame in Iraq is murky, the endgame if Afghanistan is invisible.

Still, if we are going to keep AQ neutralized, we have to keep the Taliban off balance.

The neutralist disagrees. Our position is that we shall be forced out sooner or later and we compound the disaster by staying.

We have made it clear, the war was a mistake to begin with. Maybe, if we had bagged OBL and bugged out we could have claimed something, but we didn't. The most intelligent strategy I have ever heard was best explained in a letter to the Antiwar.com letters page years ago. It was posted by George D. of the UK, "the terrorists could have been hunted one-by-one by having a special task force that deals with it, like Israel did in hunting the Nazi war criminals, without going to war with the country that provided shelter for them." Of course such a policy would need focus over a long term and could not be a TV war and no party out of power would have been able to resist accusing the administration of doing nothing.

George ends on the following note,

Thus, while it may be a better war than Iraq in some sense, it is not a war that can be won or even ended. It just goes on.

Not forever.

See our previous discussion of Afghanistan

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Neutralist Article of the Week Award

It's only Thursday, but entries are closed. The Neutralist Grand Committee met just about a nanosecond ago in executive session to award the coveted Neutralist Article of the Week Award. Over a gourmet breakfast of cold, stale leftover pizza it was decided that the winner is Justin Raimondo's Wednesday, February 27, 2008 Behind the headlines column titled, McCain, Militarism, and the Legacy of Teddy Roosevelt Will Americans embrace "the strenuous life"?

The piece is almost a history lesson of interventionism vs. anti interventionism with analysis of the economic disaster that interventionism becomes and in our case is becoming.

Just a tad of his article is here:

The policy of imperialism, far from being the cause of riches descending on the nation, was an expensive and divisive "solution" to the alleged crisis of American capitalism, one that could not be sustained then any more than it cannot be sustained now. As underscored by the costs involved in setting up and defending our newly conquered Iraqi province, our empire is not a gain, economically, but a drain – although a new, rising class of war profiteers, colonial administrators, and investment bankers underwriting the whole imperial project directly benefits from our policies. McCain is their voice and their champion.

Elsewhere in the article he quotes McCain claiming to defend civilization. John McCain would not know what civilization is if it bit him in the ass.

Congratulations, Justin. You can now tout yourself an award winning writer. You have the full weight of the Neutralist behind you. You lucky dog.

Friday, February 22, 2008

End International Welfare

Kareem Amer is in an Egyptian Jail because the religious grand poobahs of his country don't really believe too much in God. Well, they don't think that much of him if they have to scurry to do his dirty work. It's not like God has told any of faithful that KA has caused him to want them to do anything about it. My guess is God is doing okay and KA's dissing of him does not have him in a tizzy.

Hey, Egypt is Egypt and if they want to go medieval, who am I to be upset. After all, you could get in Christian trouble for heresy in the West a few centuries ago. And of course, Spinoza had a few problems with Jewish heresy as did Christ.

My problem with medieval is I don't want to subsidize it. Egypt and a lot of countries get a lot of moolah from us and they don't make us proud.

I think the jailing of KA is disgusting. As a neutralist, I am anti-intervention If they want to pull this barbarism, they should do it on their own dime.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scrap of Paper

I forget a lot of stuff as I age, so I may be misremembering Thucydides account of the Peloponnesian War. What I recall is how the Greeks would make treaties, swearing oaths to the gods and conveniently forgetting their pious acts as soon as expedient.

So it is today. Kosovo will declare independence with at least our tacit approval even though we agreed it was to remain de jure part of Serbia when we needed to end our bombing campaign.

I suppose we knew and the Serbs knew at the time that this would happen. They saved face and Clinton did not have to suffer the expense and unpopularity of a ground campaign.

Treaties and agreements are always scraps of paper when of no value to the signatories.

It is the Neutralist's belief that a neutralist foreign policy would require less scraps of paper and those we did need would be of limited purpose to serve the real needs of signatories.

Anyway, With Kosovo's declaration and our acquiescing, we advertise ourselves a scrap of paper nation.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Neutralist Article of the Week Award

It is, of course, unfair to give this award to only one article. There have been some good ones, but it is the end of the week and this one is deserving.

Keep in mind, awardees may not wish to be honored by the Neutralist, so though we do wish to tar them with our brush as this is a lonely endeavor to begin with, we do issue the caveat.

Bill Kristol's Obscure Masterpiece is a discussion of how poor Bill Kristol did so poorly when he went up against Daniel Ellsberg on Cspan just after the beginning of the Gulf War. The show has almost disappeared from history and if I were Kristol, I'd do what I could to see that it was forever gone because, to be kind, it does not enhance his reputation.

The article would be in the running just for showing up the foolishness of one member of our political class. It clinched the award with these lines,

What this suggests about the people running America is far worse than if they were simply malevolent super-geniuses: They don't know the backstory and couldn't care less. It's as though we're riding in the back seat of a car driven by people who demanded the wheel but aren't sure what the gas pedal does or what a stop sign actually looks like.

Kristol, ivy grad, best and brightest, displayed a lack of historical knowledge and an inventiveness of an alternate history that makes the quote dead on. Neutralism is warranted as our national foreign policy ethos because we will always have the ex student government types running things and the simplest foreign policy is the best they can manage.

Congratulations Tom Engelhardt and Jonathan Schwarz.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chickenhawks of the left, or, let George do it.

A couple of years ago, I was walking from Penn Station to the Javits Center in the Big Apple with my son of a Saturday. As we tramped along, we passed a two young men walking the other way. One, a well coiffed lad in his late teens and early twenties with the air of prosperity about him. He was wearing a sweatshirt as the autmnal temperature would have suggested. No surprise there. What caught my eye was the legend, “Save Darfur.”

I may be unfairly judging the man, but what such people seem to be telling me is, “I care, in a fashionable sort of way.” They are the chickenhawks of the left. They want to save Darfur the same way that species of the right wants to bring democracy to Iraq, through the blood of less well off men.

The make the world safe for democracy types have screwed up things in Iraq and the kumbyah chickenhawks wish to do it in the Sudan. Ah, but they would tell you they only want to help the poor and downtrodden. Well our track record in Iraq is not all that good, why would any suspect it would get better in another hot desert clime?

Why indeed. Over at the FAIR website there is an article that getting involved would muck things up. I think Julie Hollar makes the case very well and if you want more you can go over to Antiwar Radio and hear Isabel McDonald, FAIR communications director makes it clear how do gooders do bad.

If you are optimistic about do gooder interventionism, how’d Somalia work out?

Hey, don’t get me wrong, if Gerorge wants to raise a battalion from sales of sweatshirts and his own fortune, that’s okay with me. He may miss a movie and a payday as he commands Clooney’s Own, but he will have not caused someone else to die for his taste.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Fund Raiser

The Neutralist announces a fundraiser. Our work here is for the long haul. Granted, we don't do enough of it and we steal other peoples' efforts wherever possible.

Still, we could do better. Your chief executive would probably be just as much a slacker but he could hire staff that would get something done. The Neutralist Association could become another think tank with plush offices and better food. We could send moi to Monte Carlo to investigate the foreign policy of Monaco.

Such plans do not come cheap. We will not consider donations of less than $10 million US per person. We have our pride, so please have some consideration.

If that is something you feel is out of your reach, Antiwar.com is having a fundraiser and might be interested in your mite. They do the day to day grunt work of anti interventionism.

Disclaimer, I don't agree with everything at Antiwar, but I agree with a lot. I am sure there are aspects of the Neutralist they don't share.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Superpower Skeptic

Over at 2Blowhards I read this in one of Michael B's Elsewhere postings,

* Gavin Andreson wonders what we get out of playing the world's numero uno superpower.

So, I clicked the link and moseyed over to GavinThink. Mr. Andresen has been kind enough to permit me to copy the whole post which we appropriate as a policy statement which we can well afford as we have been able to maintain our funding level at $00.00.

Anyway we copy it below and the link is here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Superpower Skeptic

Here's a thought experiment: would it be so terrible if the United States stopped being the world's military superpower?

What would happen if we reduced defense spending down to the level of, say, Australia (the 13'th largest defense budget in the world)? The US spends over half a trillion dollars a year on the military, Australia spends 14 billion dollars a year-- or roughly half a trillion dollars less than the US.

I was born in Australia-- it's a very nice country. As far as I can tell, Australia isn't suffering because it's not the World's Number One SuperPower. Like the US, it doesn't share any borders with unfriendly neighbors (but my mum tells me that a big worry down under in the sixties was the "Yellow Peril"-- that Chinese overpopulation would force them to invade).

Run the thought experiment in reverse-- what benefits would Australia get if it spent an extra half a trillion dollars a year and became the Worlds Greatest Fighting Force?

I know next to nothing about defense or foreign policy, so enlighten me-- besides bragging rights, what am I getting for that half a trillion dollars that I wouldn't get if we spent 20 billion dollars instead?

Posted by Gavin Andresen at 9:15 AM

Labels: Politics, Public Policy, Skeptical

Bill said...

The War on Terror.
7:52 PM
Gavin Andresen said...

RE: The War on Terror:

I am not afraid.

If we all stopped acting afraid and truly made this the Home of the Brave, then terrorism wouldn't work.
9:27 PM
Xenophon said...

The US military/industrial complex is incredibly powerful. Mess with that at your peril. Also, many very large business interests worldwide are buoyed up by the presence of troops in so many countries. It's quite subtle, but think of it as a sort of guarantee that US economic interests will be upheld all over the globe...oil, minerals, agricultural products, etc. It works to the benefit of the US in precisely the same way as Roman troops benefited their far-flung economic interests back 2000 years ago.
10:05 PM
Gavin Andresen said...

Anybody have good pointers on attempts to quantify how much business benefit we get from the half trillion dollars we spend?

Browsing the Wikipedia GDP per capita table, I don't see a correlation between military spending and economic productivity.

So I'm deeply skeptical that all our military spending is making US companies (or US citizens) richer...
11:48 AM

I think Mr. Gavin did a good job in defending himself in the comments and The Neutralist thanks him for the post.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Res ipsa loquitur, again, and again, and again

Hamid Karzai will soon have to decide if a court verdict in Afghanistan condemning a man to death can stand. The man's crime was insulting Islam.

The concept of God in Islam is of a fragile deity. I confess to no standing in religious questions. Attending a college where four semesters of theology were required, my greatest accomplishment was setting a record for the number of classes cut. I must observe that here in the West we have minor artists who paint The Virgin mary or put a crucifix in urine. Now, I've seen these creations and they are impressive in that they expose the silliness of the western art loving crowd. God himself seems to have been affected not one whit. Allah, as conceived by Islam seems to be horribly wounded and to make him better, the blood of Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh must be spilled.

Points of theology are not the purpose of this post, however. Rather, I must observe how stupid it is that we are propping up a regime that is even debating this point. Let us say it again, the war in Afghanistan was buffoonery from day one and will be forever. Except it won't be forever. It will not necessarily end in defeat by the insurgency. That could happen if we stay too long. No, we have already defeated ourselves.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pride Goeth Before a Fall!

Here in Nova Anglia it is all sadness. Until last night, On Radio and in print the predictions were that the Patriots would triumph big.

Moi, I had no interest in the game. As a kid, I remember when the team was formed. Bob Dee, the man who scored the first points ever (granted it was an exhibition game) in the old American Football League spoke at our little league dinner and it was like hearing a god though I have no memory of his speech. I remember Lou Sabin, the Pat's first coach and Jimmy Colclough, first quarterback. I was a sports fanatic as a kid, but grew out of it and so should my countrymen. Sports is Oprah for guys. Still, I take no pleasure in the sad eyes my fellow Swamp Yankees will be showing this day.

This is not my purpose in this post, however. The silly provincial triumphalism is a metaphor for a greater national aspect.

There is no joy in Mudville and I've not the heart to finish the line.