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, April 27, 2012

Iraq; The final scorecard-A seven year enema

The Neutralist was moved to write today because of John Glaser's post on Antiwar.com's blog, ‘Lasting Pride’ For the Hell We Left in Iraq.  If you remember, we were going to bring democracy and good government of Mesopotamia.  Last year, our troops pulled out not with bands playing and applauding locals lining the streets in gratitude, but in the dead of night without telling the Iraqis.  This is not accounted as the recognition that we had lost something, but as Glaser quoted,

“We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” – President Barack Obama, Fort Bragg, N.C., December 2011
“You will leave with great pride – lasting pride.” – Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to U.S. troops, December 2011
Mr. Glaser than states the obvious,
I’ve written repeatedly about the terrible dictatorship and lasting sectarian violenceWashington left in Iraq after the troop withdrawal of December 2011. Contrary to the lies of these indecent politicians, the enduring effects of the illegal U.S. war in Iraq are still causing havoc and bloodshed throughout the country. Iraq is neither secure, nor is it a democracy as was promised by warmongers in Washington.
I have an open question for anyone.  It would be nice if someone in government would make the effort, but if anyone would take the time to tell the Neutralist how the Iraq War was not a mindless mistake, there would be unending gratitude on my part.
There is, of course, a larger question.  How could anyone think that intervention in Syria or Iran could be anything less than loserville.  We have the recent example of Libya being a non success.  An even larger question is not why are the people running foreign policy allowed to run amuck, but why are such people considered sane.  
I remember when the Iraq war was new.  chickenhawks Michael Graham on Boston radio was exclaiming how he had Steffens like seen the future and it worked.  How anyone could not see as he had was mindlessness.  Wisely, he has moved on.  Would really like to hear from him how it was all not a mistake.
Now the right wing mantra is not that it was not winnable, but it's Obama's fault.  It's alvays Ludnendorff und ze stab in ze back, but never our fault.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Why are there NGOs?

There is a good article on the meddling of NGOs in The National Interest by its editor, Robert W. Merry.  It is titled Unmasking the Democracy Promoters and is Posted today.  It led us to think about foreign policy and why a country would fund NGOs.

When I was very young, we were in the thick of the Cold War.  The American, and I would think, the Soviet goverments felt themselves to be in a mortal struggle.  Large military establishments were maintained in readiness in case cold turned to hot.

The war was not just tank armies staring at each other across the Fulda Gap.  Proxies engaged us in Viet Nam and the Soviets in Afghanistan.  there were other peripheral side shows with varying degress of heat.

Another front was one side or the other setting up and/or funding groups not ostensibly connected with either government.  The Soviets had front groups such as the   The World Peace Council and others.     Supposedly, the CIA funded hi-brow publications like Partisan Review.  The reader is asked to do his own research.  It was such that Jay Ward, the man behind Rocky and Bullwinkle held a dinner with themed tables such as one for “All those who believe the Diners Club is a Commie Front.”

So the Cold War ended and as one historian put it, history ended.   Maybe not.  The Neutralist would have wanted our nation to bring home the fleets and armies and the air force, but it was not to be.  We found a bogeyman in Iraq, or, depending on viewpoint, he found us.  

That is not to say we left Europe.  The end of the Soviets still sees divisions billeted in Germany and our continued activity in the leftovers of the two multinational entities, the USSR and Yugoslavia.  One would think just getting the Russkies to leave would be enough.  We had promised not to run NATO up to Russia’s border, but so what.  Poland had to be Poland, even though that meant having secret rendition prisons.

But, we are the good guys.  Everyone should be good guys.  That’s where NGOs come in.  People helping people be nice.

So the US is funding lots of nice people around the world guiding people of other countries toward the light of free, open elections with governments that are run honestly.  Now I live in a state where the last three house speakers are convicted felons, so at the Neutralist, we are not sure we are uniformly the example.

To believe that we just love the world and that’s why this is going on is silly.  In fact, the Neutralist, with our characteristic lack of effort have come up with a self evident law;  No one sends lots of bucks and folks overseas without thought to the benefits accruing to the giver.  Even in such beloved organizations as the Peace Corps, we would posit that is so.  A bit murky there.  Certainly, when it started in the Cold War there was some sense of countering the Evil Empire.  Whether it still serves a geopolitical purpose, who knows, but at least it serves as kind of a continuation of summer camp for college grads who did well in Post Modern lit and can’t get a job.

So money is being thrown around to “to support what we like to call ‘universal values’—not American values, not Western values, universal values.”  according to Michael McFaul, once the NDI representative in Russia.  Don’t know about you, but Mike’s sentiments make me wanna sing Kumbayah.

The NDI is National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit U.S. agency whose mission is to promote democracy around the globe.  Now according to the TNI article, NDI gets oodles of lucre from the Uncle Sam’s coffers.  If he who pays the piper calls the tune, a doctrine we think self-evident, then why are these called non governmental organization.  Well, TNI gives out the doctrine how that is so.  “But Wikipedia helpfully explains: “In cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding governmental representatives from membership in the organization.””  Call me cynical, but isn’t that just a tad of a distinction without a difference.

I’m not the only one who feels that way.  Mr. Merry begins the piece by noting that the United Arab Emirates have shut down the NDI in the UAE.  the nerve!  Why Hilary exclaimed, “we very much regret” the UAE action and adding that NDI plays “a key role in supporting NGOs and civil society across the region, and I expect our discussion on this issue to continue.”  That last part, after the conjunction, “I expect our discussion on this issue to continue.”  sounds a bit ominous.  Was it slightly threatening?  Why would the sheikhs not want something so helpful in their midst?

Mr. Merry has a reasonable suggestion, “But perhaps there’s merit in stepping back just a bit and seeking to look at it from the perspective of the receiving country.”  Novel that.  someone might have a different perspective than Foggy Bottom.

The truth is, NGOs are great meddlers. No one likes a meddler (unless, maybe they are on the take from said meddler).

Mr. Merry has it nailed, “For anyone trying to understand why this anger is welling up in those countries, it might be helpful to contemplate how Americans would feel if similar organizations from China or Russia or India were to pop up in Washington, with hundreds of millions of dollars given to them by those governments, bent on influencing our politics. One supposes it would generate substantial anger among Americans if these groups tried to tilt our elections toward one party or another. But suppose they were trying to upend our very system of government, as U.S.-financed NGOs are trying to do these days in various countries—and have done in recent years in numerous locations.”

One would think the push back long overdue and should not be surprised if the various targets compare notes and work together on dealing with all the little sinecuristas in their midsts.

Mr. Merry ends the article by writing, “crusades on behalf of presumed “universal values” have a way of going awry.”  Didn’t we just “celebrate” the 95 anniversary into the “War to end all wars?”

*Mr. McFaul is now ambassador to Russia where one hopes he is behaving himself.

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Apr 5, 2012): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/ngos-not-beyond-reproach-6719

Source URL (retrieved on Apr 5, 2012): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/ngos-not-beyond-reproach-6719