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, June 30, 2008

WWSNS? (What Would Sam Neil Say?)

I'm not a Tom Clancy fan. As a Mick, I think he goes overboard in making his hero Hibernian, but he also did too much in making the man a tool of the Brits in his anti IRA screed. Still in the movie, The Hunt for Red October, there is a small scene where Sam Neill's character is talking with Sean Connery's. Neill talks about how he is going to travel from state to state in his recreational vehicle. At one point he says, "No papers?" and Connery affirms, "No Papers." I loved that.

That was of course in the old Evil Empire days. Nowadays, we are scared of everything. I saw a post at Squirmelicious detailing the decline in our privacy and the increase in our surveillance.

Kids, we're all going to die. Hate to break it to you. Get out from under the bed and face the day. After all, when you sneak out of the house, you have a greater chance of dying for your country going to the 7-eleven and getting in a car crash than being attacked by Achmed. Got a swimming pool? An undertaker wife told mine that her husband had a lot of business from his affluent clientele's drowning children. Never said international terrorism got one.

Oh, speaking about "The Troubles," they said instituting surveillance cameras in the Six Counties was just to watch "terrorists." Gee, guess what's all over Britland now. I guess your Lumpen Limeys are all terrorists, or so HMG thinks.

I don't think as Squirmelicious does that Obama is the answer as he's flipped the flop on the Mid East. I think the people are the problem. If we did not see a bogeyman at every turn, the powers that be would not run with it.

Maybe He Needs To Be A Tad More Skeptical

I hope the Skeptical CPA is having us on. I read your man everyday and respect his opinion on financial markets, legal and regulatory matters as far as I understand the issues. In a recent blog post, he wrote the following,

Bush should stop fiddling around and give Israel the green light to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities with whatever help it needs. Then Israel can portray itself as the defender of Sunni Islam.

Okay, part of the post are sarcastic. For example, "Aren't you comforted by Bush's "confidence in the King"? Isn't Bush the guy who looked into Putin's soul and liked what he saw?"

Certainly, giving nuclear anything to anyone is not what our foreign policy should be about. The idea that encouraging the Israelis to bomb the Persians is going to solve anything for us is not one of SCPA's best.

If after the bombing the King can keep his bestiary together, he should do well enough. Only on the face of it will Israel get something and we shall have even more dependence on KSA.

Most ideas for war in the new millennium have not panned out. SCPA is a pretty sharp lad, His tongue has to be so far back in his cheek he's choking/joking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Times Change

When I was a kid, we moved from the working class inner city to the working class burbs. About a mile and a half down the hill was a village center with a movie theater. this was just before the building of big shopping plazas and about ten years before movie multiplexes. It was one screen and when our moms got tired of us in summer, we would be given the small change of admission and allowed a matinee.

That was the fifties and much of it I don’t remember. As there was a feature and a B movie on most bills and there were so many, I am vague. Amongst the boys, there was a lot of horsing around during the lesser films.

I have a distant memory of one B flick that recurs more now. It is of some uniformed men taking another man and placing him on a board and submerging him in water to get him to talk. I remember the victim as looking stolid and laconic and with chiseled features.

Not much else is recalled except that his persecutors were the bad guys and he was a good guy and he was on our side. The implication was that we were fighting against the evil in the world that would do this.

Of course, life is more complex than that. It would be ridiculous to claim our side never did anything untoward. I had an uncle whom my mom implied was a little off after the war. There were two events he might never have gotten over. One was being the only survivor on a transport ship that was sunk. The other was being on patrol and his group came across a Japanese soldier washing his clothes. The men watched him until he was finished. It would have been nothing to capture him alive. One of my uncle’s comrades aimed his gun and shot the man in cold blood. Certainly, there were more instances of such behavior. Still, they were not policy sanctioned by the Roosevelt adminstration. The Neutralist contends if FDR were the great genius he is portrayed, he would have achieved our necessary foreign policy goals while avoiding war. Still, let it be said, our record in the matter of treatment of prisoners was much better than our opponents.

I wish that could be said now. Unfortunately, we have General Taguba's report to deal with.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Amongst the practices cited,

U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

Is it absolutely necessary to torture prisoners to get necessary. If we won WWII without it, I doubt we need it during our faux war on terror. The sexual humilition thingee, well, the deathless prose of Justin Raimondo says it all,

Okay, you’re trying to get a terrorist to talk, to spill the beans about whatever vile terroristic plots he knows about, and it’s easy to imagine beatings and even electrical shocks being utilized to this end—but the key that the torturers were just having a little sick fun with their charges is signaled with all this “sexual humiliation” stuff. I mean, let’s get real—is that hardboiled Al Qaeda type over there really going to break once you break out the dildo, or will waterboarding work just as well?

An American Mom

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stratfor is Channeling The Neutralist

In our last post, On to Persia we noted that the Israelis were telegraphing their possibly intended punch. Now, telegraphing a punch is a theatric practice to let the audience know that you intend to hit the other actor. In real life this is not done. You smack the other guy quickly before he smacks you, or in the case of fans of the movie, Million Dollar Baby, she smacks you.

Well, Mr. George Friedman, impresario of Stratfor has written an article, Mediterranean Flyover: Telegraphing an Israeli Punch? He also noticed the Israeli's are yelling, "This time, I'm gonna do it. No, this time, I really mean it." He comes up with a few alternative scenarios but in the end thinks it's a bluff.

We tend toward this latter theory. Frankly, the Bush administration has been talking about an attack on Iran for years. It is hard for us to see that the situation has changed materially over the past months. But if it has, then either Israel or the United States would have attacked — and not with front-page spreads in The New York Times before the attack was launched. In the end, we tend toward the view that this is psychological warfare for the simple reason that you don’t launch a surprise attack of the kind necessary to take out Iran’s nuclear program with a media blitz beforehand. It just doesn’t work that way.

We hope George and Stratfor are right.

If anyone who reads The Neutralist knows Mr. Friedman, if you run into him, please let him know, we have approved him for official Neutralist Groupie Status (NGS). We don't so honor just anyone. In fact, as evidence of our esteem, we are making it Platinum Neutralist Groupie Status (PNGS)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

On to Persia

So oil is up about $11 on Israeli war rumors. What would happen if there were an actual attack? I am no economist. I like to think of myself as curious about my world. Still, I am not interested in finding out if the worst case is true.

Something that causes the strait of Hormuz to possibly close cannot be good for us. Sooner or later, it can't be good for Israel.

The Israeli's should be consulting their historian, Martin Van Creveld. His article, The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran, in the Forward is worth a read before sending the jets to Persia. Mr. Van Creveld is right. The Islamic Republic is not much militarily and won't be anytime soon. So they make a primitive nuke. How do they deliver it.

So why worry if these guys are not much in our way. Just another, oh what is the word I'm looking for......cakewalk. True no planes will rise to meet us. Any tanks are probably rusty. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that we've talked and talked about this that the Persians are listening and thinking and may have a surprise. If it's mining the straits, well, that's not high tech and is doable.

During the Yom Kippur war, Israel ripped up the middle and across the canal. If you've read Liddell-Hart you know a frontal attack is the most difficult operation and most wasteful of soldiers. The way the Israelis were able to do this was through meticulous intelligence. It may have been one of the greatest military operations in history to overcome the problems of the direct approach and change it to Liddell-Hart's beloved indirect approach. Of course it was completely secret.

Osirak was brilliant and secret as well.

Lebanon, twice were there too many telegraphed punches. As to the looming Iranian adventure, not too much of that loose lips sink ships out there. If the Iranians are not watching and planning, they are the dumbest people ever.