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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This Guy is Fein By Me

Alan Bock's April 19, 2008 article, Prosecuting No-Threat Stumblebums is worth reading for its examination of the government's policy of encouraging losers to conspire against the US and then arresting them and trumpeting how Holy Mother State then saved the day.

The Neutralist is especially grateful to Mr. Bock for pointing us to Mr. Bruce Fein.

Mr. Bock quotes from Mr. Fein's advice to the next president as published in Slate,

End the ‘war on terror' as a legal paradigm. International terrorists are criminals, not warriors. The next president should see to it that terrorists will be captured, interrogated, prosecuted, and punished according to civilian law. The United States is not at war with international terrorism. The next president should ensure that we do not brandish the weapons of war in lieu of traditional law enforcement against international terrorists.

Mr. Bock complements those "Fein" words with a few of his own,

Haven't we lived in fear of phantom threats long enough?

Of course I could not resist clicking on the link to Mr. Fein's article. His beautiful words sent cold chills up and down the Neutralist's spine.

Withdraw all U.S. troops from foreign countries. The Declaration of Independence explains that the purpose of government is to secure unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States was not created to build an empire, to aggrandize government, or to purge the planet of nondemocratic regimes. Accordingly, the next president should announce that we are withdrawing all U.S. troops from foreign countries and that, hereinafter, all the nation's military resources will be devoted to building missile, electronic, and other defenses against potential foreign attacks. The United States lacks the wisdom necessary to spin modern democratic gold from centuries of despotic flax by military force or otherwise. Iraq and Afghanistan are clear proof. Further, the United States has no moral responsibility for the destiny of persons outside its jurisdiction who pay no taxes to support the government and pledge no allegiance to the republic.

He got even better,

Torture should be categorically renounced. President Bush has hedged on whether he would torture suspected al-Qaida detainees in hopes of extracting intelligence. There is no evidence that torture works. The Defense Department and the FBI renounce water-boarding, and intelligence veterans concur that information derived from torture is worthless. Moreover, if the United States tortures, the risk of torture to our own captured soldiers climbs exponentially. The new president should categorically renounce torture. It cannot be justified pragmatically. And no civilized nation stoops to imitate the savagery of its enemies.

Indeed, the whole article is now on our index of required reading.

Mr. Fein is one of the principals of the American Freedom Agenda. He was also with the Justice Department during the Reagan Administration.

Mr. Fein, this is not your lucky day. We have decided to inflict on you the prestigious article of the month award.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Unprecedented Award of Article of the Week for two pieces. To the same writer!

Burkeman1 has scored twice. We therefore have no choice but to award the Article of the Week twice whether he wants it or not.

In Enemies Everywhere, he tells the American right to get over their paranoia. The world is not about to overrun us. In his writing, we don't know if he intended to make the case for neutralism, but he did. After all, if they are not coming to get us, there is no reason for us to be going overseas to get them.

In A Debate Parameter of Lies: Hillary and McCain on Iran. Burkeman writes about a show I've never seen to make a point very well,

In the cartoon show "The Boondocks" there was once an episode in which two "wigger" characters (one a distant parody of George Bush) rob a conveinance store at gun point staffed with an Arab clerk. A security guard stumbles upon the robbery and pulls his gun on the two bandits in the middle of the robbery. The Arab clerk has his hands in the air and is unarmed. The security guard orders the robbers to lay down their guns at which point the two wiggers insist they were being robbed by the Arab and that he has a gun.

The security guard, perplexed looks at the Arab holding up his hands and responds that he doesn't have gun and repeats his demand that they lay down their weapons and surrender. At which point the robbers insist again even more stridently that this "Terrorist looking mutherbleeper" has a gun! The guard- nervous- looks again at the Arab clearly holding up his empty hands and repeats that he sees no gun. The robbers again say the Arab clerk has a gun and tell him to look more closely. The guard, scared, and out gunned and intimidated by the two robbers, hesitates and says "I don't see a gun though!" To which they reply simply, slowly and even more loudly- look again, He has a gun! At which point the guard says "well maybe . . ." The scene goes on like this for a good 5 minutes until finally the worn out nervous guard agrees against his own plain sight that indeed the unarmed hands in the air Arab clerk has a gun and they proceed to all fire upon him.

Perhaps the most devastating allegory I have seen of the runnup to the Iraq war ever put in simple stark terms. A true delight (even if most of the rest of that cartoon series is unwatchable black nationalist twaddle) and a rare example of unambiguous moral clarity on the Iraq war.

I was reminded of that episode upon reading of recent statements of John McCain and Hillary Clinton concerning Iraq. The same pattern is being repeated. A wholly false parameter of "debate" about Iran has been setup that the two fraud sides pretend to debate over when there is actually no factual basis, at all, for their positions. And our "free press" simply allows them to prattle on with zero challenge.

Burkeman1 explains it more, but this is enough for us.

We must warn Burkeman1 that he is on thin ice here. Two articles gets two awards. If he ever does the trifecta we shall be forced to make him a Fellow of the Neutralist Institute.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Actually, The Surge is Working, in a subtle sort of way.

Retired Colonel Douglas MacGregor makes the point that the reason for the Surge was to get Americans to the November elections without talking about Iraq. I agree with most of what the Colonel says. I am not sure about his thesis above, but I don't say he is wrong.

Can't say the dots completely connect, but Gavin at Gavinthink says,

I'm tired of hearing about the war. It has been discussed to death over the last five years, with the Left saying that we shouldn't have done it in the first place, and the Right saying that we HAD to do it (and that either Unforseen Circumstances have made it go poorly, or that the Administration made some "unfortunate" decisions along the way).

Now, I can't say if the surge is causing that attitude, but if Gavin who lives in Amherst, MA (but is not a typical Amherst cool aid drinking type), a town where you can always find a peace vigil whether you want to or not, has a hard time discussing the war, one must suspect the effect would be greater elsewhere.

To his credit, Gavin does still talk about the war.

An interesting interview with the Colonel is here.

We give Col. MacGregor our interview of the week award, even though we are not sure of the date and don't absoulutely agree with everything. Colonel, you will just have to live with the shame of being one of our awardees. Congrats.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Boston Radio Chickenhawk Reports the Surge is Working, again

Michael Graham, Boston Radio Chickenhawk (WTKK 96.9 FM, 9AM to Noon) while listening to General Petraeus tells us that the surge is working. I wasn't listening too closely as the war is always going swimmingly according to him. Maybe it is, but how we can tell from the Petraeus snapshot when he was saying it was going well before the surge which if it was, why the heck was el surgeo needed?

Maybe Mr. Graham might want to read someone else's testimony like the left wing anti military General Odom's testimony.

He could read the words of Anthony Cordesman who formerly served as National Security Assistant to dovish Senator John McCain. (hat tip Parapundit)

Nah, your man has been shilling for the war for a long time and will not stop. Hey, a few more deployments for the stopped loss cannon fodder and enlist the cat IVs and it will work.

Support those troops, Mike, especially the ones who gave money to Ron Paul. Think they might have been making a statement.

As I wrote before,

"Yep, we're winning. Winning now. Winning next month, Next year, two years from now. Five years from now. Maybe longer.

Then we shall leave, having accomplished zip."

All the happy talk from the war mongers won't change that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I Don't Know About Waterboarding, but The Torture of Logic is Happening Apace.

The Israeli Water Guy is an interesting fellow. He has lived in a few places and speaks a number of languages. He has many posts about interesting social and historical subjects. He also should be sent to the Hague for criminal torture of logic.

You see, he thinks the Iraqi war an improvement over sliced bread. Mr. Greg Cochran is more impressed with sliced bread. The IWG responded to Cochran's indictment of the profitability of colonial involment with the words, "From where gcochran got the bizarre idea that wars should be profitable? What is it, a business operation? I am starting to agree with mencius that Prof. Cochran's neurone count has been declining lately."

Ah, well, what would be the point of colonialism but for the gain of the colonialist power? It never happens as Greg made the point, but no intelligent person really believes that spreading civilization silliness. Anyway, a nation that watches reality shows is not in a position to spread civilization.

The whole thing started on the 2blowhards website with a back and forth between Cochran and Mencius Moldbug. Now it is my opinion that Greg did better, not because Mencius is unable to present his position, it is just when you come down to it there is nothing there to defend and he has to do the song and dance like bringing up Egypt. To believe in the war and the lies that led to it leaves you in a, well, I can't think of a charitable way to put it.

Of course, I'm not all that interested in being charitable to your man. After coming out the worst in the fray, he deigns to comment,

Finally, Greg Cochran and I had another altercation about Iraq at 2Blowhards. I really take no pleasure in this sort of thing. Cochran has obviously lost a step or two - it's like beating up an old man.

Nerve he has, class he lacks, unless of course his tongue was in his cheek.

He does mention being 34 yo. Believeing in, letting alone defending fairy tales at that age is sad.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gen. Odom wins The Neutralist Testimony of the Week Award

Below is the testimony of retired general William E. Odom on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We bestow on him the uncoveted Testimony of the Week Award for the common sense and clarity of his words.

We have a quibble. Below Gen. Odom states,

The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. Only that step can break the paralysis now gripping US strategy in the region.

We fully agree, but then he goes on,

The next step is to choose a new aim, regional stability, not a meaningless victory in Iraq.
Regional stability is devoutly to be wished, but, if he means it as anything less than the prelude to our instituting a complete neutralist foreign policy, then we disagree. Any FP that ties us to the labyrinthe of the mid east, let alone all other areas for other than the period necessary to completely disengage will just lead us back into a never ending one more intervention situation. The temptations are too great.

In high lighting the absurdity of current American foreign policy, the money quote is,

one need only take note of the al Qaeda public diplomacy campaign over the past year or so on internet blogs. They implore the United States to bomb and invade Iran and destroy this apostate Shiite regime.

As an aside, it gives me pause to learn that our vice president and some members of the Senate are aligned with al Qaeda on spreading the war to Iran.

It is surprising this is not in The Onion.

We do wonder if the General is not channeling The Neutralist,

Also disturbing is Turkey’s military incursion to destroy Kurdish PKK groups in the border region. That confronted the US government with a choice: either to support its NATO ally, or to make good on its commitment to Kurdish leaders to insure their security. It chose the former, and that makes it clear to the Kurds that the United States will sacrifice their security to its larger interests in Turkey.

We made the same point in the post, Our Bestest Buddies, The Turks, Or Is It The Kurds? back on Ausgust 2, 2007. Of course, we know the General had the score all along, but we are needy.

Please read his worthwhile words spoken to people who will probably not listen.


By William E. Odom, LT General, USA, Ret.

2 April 2008

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. It is an honor to appear before you again. The last occasion was in January 2007, when the topic was the troop surge. Today you are asking if it has worked. Last year I rejected the claim that it
was a new strategy. Rather, I said, it is a new tactic used to achieve the same old strategic aim, political stability. And I foresaw no serious prospects for success.

I see no reason to change my judgment now. The surge is prolonging instability, not creating the conditions for unity as the president claims.

Last year, General Petraeus wisely declined to promise a military solution to this political problem, saying that he could lower the level of violence, allowing a limited time for the Iraqi leaders to strike a political deal. Violence has been temporarily reduced but today there is credible evidence that the political situation is far more fragmented. And currently we see violence surge in Baghdad and Basra. In fact, it has also remained sporadic and significant in several other parts of Iraq over the past year, notwithstanding the notable drop in Baghdad and Anbar Province.

More disturbing, Prime Minister Maliki has initiated military action and then dragged in US forces to help his own troops destroy his Shiite competitors. This is a political setback, not a political solution. Such is the result of the surge tactic.

No less disturbing has been the steady violence in the Mosul area, and the tensions in Kirkuk between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomen. A showdown over control of the oil fields there surely awaits us. And the idea that some kind of a federal solution can cut this Gordian knot strikes me as a wild fantasy, wholly out of touch with Kurdish realities.

Also disturbing is Turkey’s military incursion to destroy Kurdish PKK groups in the border region. That confronted the US government with a choice: either to support its NATO ally, or to make good on its commitment to Kurdish leaders to insure their security. It chose the former, and that makes it clear to the Kurds that the United States will sacrifice their security to its larger interests in Turkey.

Turning to the apparent success in Anbar province and a few other Sunni areas, this is not the positive situation it is purported to be. Certainly violence has declined as local Sunni shieks have begun to cooperate with US forces. But the surge tactic cannot be given full credit. The decline started earlier on Sunni initiative. What are their motives? First, anger at al Qaeda operatives and second, their financial plight.

Their break with al Qaeda should give us little comfort. The Sunnis welcomed anyone who would help them kill Americans, including al Qaeda. The concern we hear the president and his aides express about a residual base left for al Qaeda if we withdraw is utter nonsense.

The Sunnis will soon destroy al Qaeda if we leave Iraq. The Kurds do not allow them in their region, and the Shiites, like the Iranians, detest al Qaeda. To understand why, one need only take note of the al Qaeda public diplomacy campaign over the past year or so on internet blogs. They implore the United States to bomb and invade Iran and destroy this apostate Shiite regime.

As an aside, it gives me pause to learn that our vice president and some members of the Senate are aligned with al Qaeda on spreading the war to Iran.

Let me emphasize that our new Sunni friends insist on being paid for their loyalty. I have heard, for example, a rough estimate that the cost in one area of about 100 square kilometers is $250,000 per day. And periodically they threaten to defect unless their fees are increased. You might want to find out the total costs for these deals forecasted for the next several years, because they are not small and they do not promise to end. Remember, we do not own these people. We merely rent them. And they can break the lease at any moment. At the same time, this deal protects them to some degree from the government’s troops and police, hardly a sign of political reconciliation.

Now let us consider the implications of the proliferating deals with the Sunni strongmen. They are far from unified among themselves. Some remain with al Qaeda. Many who break and join our forces are beholden to no one. Thus the decline in violence reflects a dispersion of power to dozens of local strong men who distrust the government and occasionally fight among themselves. Thus the basic military situation is far worse because of the proliferation of armed groups under local military chiefs who follow a proliferating number of political bosses.

This can hardly be called greater military stability, much less progress toward political consolidation, and to call it fragility that needs more time to become success is to ignore its implications. At the same time, Prime Minister Maliki’s military actions in Basra and Baghdad, indicate even wider political and military fragmentation. We are witnessing is more accurately described as the road to the Balkanization of Iraq, that is, political fragmentation. We are being asked by the president to believe that this shift of so much power and finance to so many local chieftains is the road to political centralization. He describes the process as building the state from the bottom up.

I challenge you to press the administration’s witnesses this week to explain this absurdity. Ask them to name a single historical case where power has been aggregated successfully from local strong men to a central government except through bloody violence leading to a single winner, most often a dictator. That is the history of feudal Europe’s transformation to the age of absolute monarchy. It is the story of the American colonization of the west and our Civil War. It took England 800 years to subdue clan rule on what is now the English-Scottish border. And it is the source of violence in Bosnia and Kosovo.

How can our leaders celebrate this diffusion of power as effective state building? More accurately described, it has placed the United States astride several civil wars. And it allows all sides to consolidate, rearm, and refill their financial coffers at the US expense.

To sum up, we face a deteriorating political situation with an over extended army. When the administration’s witnesses appear before you, you should make them clarify how long the army and marines can sustain this band-aid strategy.

The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. Only that step can break the paralysis now gripping US strategy in the region. The next step is to choose a new aim, regional stability, not a meaningless victory in Iraq. And progress toward that goal requires revising our policy toward Iran. If the president merely renounced his threat of regime change by force, that could prompt Iran to lessen its support to Taliban groups in Afghanistan. Iran detests the Taliban and supports them only because they will kill more Americans in Afghanistan as retaliation in event of a US attack on Iran. Iran’s policy toward Iraq would also have to change radically as we withdraw. It cannot want instability there. Iraqi Shiites are Arabs, and they know that Persians look down on them. Cooperation between them has its limits.

No quick reconciliation between the US and Iran is likely, but US steps to make Iran feel more secure make it far more conceivable than a policy calculated to increase its insecurity. The president’s policy has reinforced Iran’s determination to acquire nuclear weapons, the very thing he purports to be trying to prevent.

Withdrawal from Iraq does not mean withdrawal from the region. It must include a realignment and reassertion of US forces and diplomacy that give us a better chance to achieve our aim.

A number of reasons are given for not withdrawing soon and completely. I have refuted them repeatedly before but they have more lives than a cat. Let try again me explain why they don’t make sense.

First, it is insisted that we must leave behind military training element with no combat forces to secure them. This makes no sense at all. The idea that US military trainers left alone in Iraq can be safe and effective is flatly rejected by several NCOs and junior officers I have heard describe their personal experiences. Moreover, training foreign forces before they have a consolidated political authority to command their loyalty is a windmill tilt. Finally, Iraq is not short on military skills.

Second, it is insisted that chaos will follow our withdrawal. We heard that argument as the “domino theory” in Vietnam. Even so, the path to political stability will be bloody regardless of whether we withdraw or not. The idea that the United States has a moral responsibility to prevent this ignores that reality. We are certainly to blame for it, but we do not have the physical means to prevent it. American leaders who insist that it is in our power to do so are misleading both the public and themselves if they believe it.

The real moral question is whether to risk the lives of more Americans. Unlike preventing chaos, we have the physical means to stop sending more troops where many will be killed or wounded. That is the moral responsibility to our country which no American leaders seems willing to assume.

Third, nay sayers insist that our withdrawal will create regional instability. This confuses cause with effect. Our forces in Iraq and our threat to change Iran’s regime are making the region unstable. Those who link instability with a US withdrawal have it exactly backwards. Our ostrich strategy of keeping our heads buried in the sands of Iraq has done nothing but advance our enemies’ interest.

I implore you to reject these fallacious excuses for prolonging the commitment of US forces to war in Iraq.

Thanks for this opportunity to testify today.