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.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

The world order changes and continued Western or US hegemony is not on the cards

 Moon of Alabama has a thoughtful argument as to the the diminishment of US influence due to the new conflict in the Levant:

West's Pro-Israel Position Accelerates Its Loss Of Power

In the article, they quote extensively from a Naked Capitalism article:

The gist is that no matter what we do, we can't put the humpty dumpty of world order back together again.

Now of course, here at the Neutralist, recognizing that in real terms that the games is up is always a reason to recognize we need to pursue a neutralist foreign policy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

From Substack, our post on kicking the can down the road as foreign policy


Getting a kick out of a can

The eternal recurrence of doing the dumb thing forever

AUG 22, 2023

Kick the can is an Americanism from an old children's game that literally was about kicking the can. Of Depression era provenance, it went out of fashion when enough prosperity returned that balls were affordable and preferable to tins left over from meal preparation.

Nevertheless, the term, kick the can lives on.

According to a Merriam Webster online word history, "round the mid-1980s a new phrase began to be heard in the U.S. Congress. To “kick the can down the road” became, in the rhetoric of some lawmakers, a colorful and mildly critical new way of referring to putting off work on an issue for a later date."

That does sound like Congress.

Entering "the economy" and "kicking the can" on the Brave search engine returns many articles. The recent debt ceiling had its share and is an example of the cliché.

Kicking the can down the road may not be thought of in terms of foreign policy but it is something we have done before. We kicked the can down the road at the end of the Korean War and have been more or less doing that since.

We did stop kicking it at the end of the Vietnam War only because we lost. If we had gotten a Korea like arrangement, we would still have troops and planes and bases and PXs all over the South. There would be brass on the border taking meetings ad infinitum with the officers of the North. We would forever be rebuilding the South. 

It would all have been a big kick the can down the road. The day of Vietnamese resolution would never arrive.

Alas, we don't have to think about it. It's as if we left no forwarding address and they disconnected the phone.

So ended our ten year Southeast Asian Field Training exercise.

We were kind of shy for a while after that, but Afghanistan was beckoning and we supplied enough that the Russians left, but nothing much was solved. Sort of a can kick.

Our temporary buddy, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and we made it our business for reasons other than Maggie Thatcher's chick shaming of Bush père ("Don't go wobbly, George").

That glorious victory took about 100 hours and led to… yup, we kicked the can. 

Saddam was allowed to continue his regime. He suppressed the Shia in the south of the country. This was disgraceful on our part as US radio broadcast over Iraq during the war that the we supported the Shia uprising before abandoning them.

No-fly zones were set up and the people were squeezed by sanctions, a contingent of soldiers remained in Saudi Arabia and the can remained in play.

Can kicking had other bad results. Bin Laden would go to war over our  “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula.” That would lead to planes taking down buildings in Manhattan and the US taking the wrong lesson and getting another can.

On September 11, 2001, the planes roared into multiple targets and a couple of decades of meandering war began.

We demanded Bin Laden be turned over. Scott Horton, in his book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, recounts how the Taliban tried to work with the US, but there was nothing for it but just to comply.

Thus, the war would come and Osama would not be found. The mission would then become "nation building." 

We spent the next two decades plus searching for something and never finding it.

That proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was promised with surges and COIN (Counter Insurgency warfare) as the ticket.

A momentary superstar, General David Petraeus, came to the fore. Petraeus was the man with a plan. He and his confreres "promised Obama that with the plan they could have the Taliban sitting at the table, ready to concede to American terms within 18 months–by July 2011."

It didn't work and, in the end, Petraeus would out himself as a clown when he and his amanuensis and mistress, Paula Broadwell, were caught sharing classified material, and he got a slap on the wrist. Dave is still seen pontificating on the media.

It would be obvious to everyone that the project was a failure and we were going to stop kicking the can on this one as we had become the can.

Even to the reality challenged, it was obvious we would be leaving. 

So the Trump administration in February 2020 negotiated a withdrawal agreementwith the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government, freed 5,000 imprisoned Taliban soldiers and set a date certain of May 1, 2021, for the final withdrawal.

The Biden Administration delayed the agreed upon time, setting an August 1 date. In the end, it would not go smoothly.

At this point, blame is irrelevant to the argument that can kicking is not a great policy, even if, as policy it is unofficial, as it always is.

Then there is the case of Iraq. Those were heady days. The world was faced with a madman who was building the big one. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) became a mantra.

In the runup, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice would intone, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Silly stuff and foolish. We went to war for it and the perpetrators, for the most part, did well enough out of it.

The war did meander, but with the elections and civilian government the Iraqis were going to have some say in events, and after failing to agree on an acceptable status of forces agreement, The last US combat troops withdrew from Iraq on 18 December 2011.

Embassy staff, marine guards and contractors remained. A not inconsiderable amount that suggested the can kicking habit is hard to kick.

We would come back to deal with the Islamic State and kinda stick around.

On January 3, 202 the United States assassinated The Iranian General Qassim Soleimani of the Quds Force. Soleimani arguably had diplomatic immunity. It was hardly an act of genius on the part of the Trump Administration.

According to Al Jazeera, "Currently, the US has 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and 900 in Syria to help advise and assist local forces in combating ISIL, which in 2014 seized swathes of territory in both countries."

Those 900 in Syria are "keeping the oil" according to Trump. Looting would be a more appropriate term.

There are other policies that continue with little other than the seeking of control. Libya, maybe more a NATO mess but a mess. 

We've been bugging Syria as mentioned above as the Middle East is welcoming them back into the family.

There are countries we bother in South America. Venezuela may not be running an efficient state, but why do we sanction them? You will hear the reply about how un-democratic they are, but does anyone believe that is the reason?

Bolivia was subject to a coup due to having a surfeit of Lithium.

Nicaragua, which the American left used to wax poetic about is now a pariah under the guy who was once thought to be worthy of canonization.

And, what can you say about Cuba, holding on despite an eternal embargo?

More Cans

Right now, there are two cans that are most on our radar. We are at proxy war with Russia, and are challenging China, mostly about Taiwan, and currently, les Chinois are lately about the evilest beings one could imagine all around.

There is occasional talk of settling the Ukraine matter. It appears to be dawning on some, if not all, that things are not going as well as hoped.

All of the suggestions that have appeared seem to have one thing in common.

If you guessed kicking the can, well done.

As most of them are from the west, that is understandable.

Most reports lately seem to include accounts of horrendous Ukrainian losses in men and material, yet suggestions for peace all seem to put forth that Russia give up land, pay reparations, maybe in return for Ukraine not getting into NATO. They don't seem to get that, at the least, Russia has not lost the war, and at best has done rather well.

At least one has suggested peacekeepers which is deferring peace to a future time, i.e., kicking the can. 

Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy suggested a deal with Russia to go after China. As to what has been going since the US/NATO drang nach osten that began after Russia left Germany, one could be forgiven for suspecting the Russians would not be jumping for joy.

To put this in idiomatic grade B movie language, imagine Putin sits down with President Vivek and listens to the proposal and replies, "So let me get this straight, you pushed NATO east after saying you wouldn't. You engineered a coup in a border country and broke the Minsk agreements."

"You expect me to trust you?"

An agreement with us to go after another country, if successful could only mean the struggle would resume and is just can kicking.

Considering that the Ramaswamy plan is a non-starter, we shall still have our China can.

The hysteria is ramping up, and is working. The noise, from mainstream news, Republicans and Democrats is that we are being confronted by Chinese aggression and must respond.

We might ask why?

Are we completely innocent?

Maybe what we see as containment, they see as encirclement.

The question for us is, do we have to be there? If we were to withdraw from Asia, would they continue to grow as a military power with the idea of sailing to the east and becoming the great hegemon?

No one has yet suggested that.

Is their current foreign policy and military posture a reaction to encirclement/containment, or is it expansionist, or a combination of both. Though there are occasional noises, conciliation does not really seem to be on the table.

What is not arguable is that our long post-World War II can kicking has not worked out well in that we are on a treadmill, but it is a treadmill we just refuse to get off.

The question is, is there infinite road to eternally move that can down?

Now we are involved in Niger, the place made famous by Colin Powell's speech to the UN about "Yellow Cake" which was a less than truthful. We have 1,100 troops there and the word democracy is mentioned, but maybe more important in calculations are valuable natural resources such as coal, gold, iron ore, tin, phosphates, petroleum, molybdenum, salt, and gypsum. Did we mention yellow cake?

Somewhere, someone in the Military Industrial Complex is audibly salivating at the thought of the money to be made out of the minerals and other materials.

Reporter Seth Harp posted a picture on X and wrote: "This is the US drone base in Niger. It cost $100 million to build. More than 1,000 American troops are stationed there. You did not vote for this. Neither did Nigeriens. You cannot change it. Neither can they. This is what the State Dept means when they

Quite so.

Maybe there is infinite road, or maybe the end of the road is a cliff and the can goes over and takes us with it.

Monday, August 21, 2023

At Neutrality Studies, Pascal Lottaz speaks with Graham Fuller about the CIA and how it affects and doesn't affect policy

 Around 46:35 Graham Fuller, speaking  with Pascal Lottaz about how democracies can be more dangerous than other forms of government when it comes to foreign policy.

Not an argument for adopting an authoritarian form of government, but recognizing limitations.



Thursday, May 25, 2023

John Mearsheimer lays out what has happened in Ukraine.

 For those not paying attention, or mindlessly pro Uke, this is a corrective.

Watch and learn.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Worth checking out from a neutralist standpoint

 This article was found at Liberation: Newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Now, the neutralist blog is not socialist, but we share an anti-imperialist sentiment and this article is more than useful.

Six war mongering think tanks and the military contractors that fund them


The Six are:

1 – Center for Strategic and International Studies

2 – Center for a New American Security

3 – Hudson Institute

4 – Atlantic Council

5 – International Institute for Strategic Studies

6 – Australian Strategic Policy Institute


There is a lot of the story behind the story at the website. We suggest a visit. 

Link here





Saturday, March 04, 2023

Dan Kovalik's The Plot To Scapegoat Russia - from the September, 2017 Sturbridge Times Magazine

Human rights lawyer and law professor Dan Kovalik has written about events in the world with US fingerprints on events. Below is the review of his The Plot To Scapegoat Russia, but there is a more timely discussion at the Neutrality Studies Youtube.

 Return of the Red Scare

The Plot To Scapegoat Russia

By Dan Kovalik

Skyhorse Publishing, 2017 

Paperback, 240 Pages

ISBN-10: 151073032X

ISBN-13: 978-1510730328

List: $18.99 Amazon: $12.78

Review by Richard Morchoe


Dan Kovalik probably never thought that he would have written The Plot To Scapegoat Russia the way he did. Not that he believed the Central Intelligence Agency was beyond any skullduggery in promoting foreign adventures.  Indeed, he has spent years observing the agency’s antics in Latin America.


Mr. Kovalik must be surprised by the fact that the only man we can pin our hopes on to stop the march to conflict, if not nuclear war is Donald Trump.  Trump, being a reactionary plutocrat is the type of person Kovalik would normally have nothing but disdain for.  


It can’t be anything he is too happy about.  Dan Kovalik is an old-school lefty.  He cut his teeth protesting U.S. involvement south of the border, traveling to Nicaragua in 1988 to oppose the Contras.  There may a social program he’s against, but that is hard to imagine.  The Trump agenda must gall him.


Except for one aspect.


Donald Trump was suggesting, in his campaign utterances, that it may not be a bad idea to actually try and get along with Russia.  He suggested as well that maybe we did not have the solution to the Syrian imbroglio.


In that one aspect at least, Donald stood head and shoulders above the competition.  


How did we get to a point in history where a progressive activist could see Donald Trump as preferable to the Democrat’s standard bearer?  It’s a long story and in no way travels a straight line.


He spends much of the book discussing his activities in Latin America.  Kovalik identifies with the Sandinistas and opposes United Fruit (i.e. Chiquita Brands International) Company and their pervasive and destructive influence in Guatemala going back to the 1954 coup.  His account takes the side of the poor and indigenous peoples.  At first, I thought his narrative dwelt a little bit too much on the past.  It does become obvious that he sees U.S. policy as continuing from the past into the present and all cut from the same cloth.


In his coverage of the Cold War between NATO and the Soviets he is also somewhat kind to the memory of the Eastern Bloc.  Not that there is not sufficient blame to go around.


When he does get to the subject of the book’s title, the author is on solid ground.  His detail of the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and the role of people from the West in looting the corpse, as well as the continuing demonization of the Putin regime is worth the price of the book for the uninformed.  That would be most Americans. 


On Page 132 he begins the story of how we started on the road to the new cold war and though he does not say it, the origins of 911.  


“Another momentous and arguably disastrous, Cold War maneuver of the US was its support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, which at the time shared a 1000-mile-long border with the Soviet Union.”


Without our support for what turned out to include many fanatical Islamic extremists, including Bin Laden, the Soviet Union would probably still have had a lot on its hands, but would have had been better able to manage any changes necessary. 


Our support for the Mujahideen insured, like for us in Vietnam, that the Soviets could never defeat the enemy.  It would be a slow bleed and would fatally weaken the U.S.S.R.


Things had to change and they did. The Reagan Administration and Mikhail Gorbachev came to a modus vivendi.  On Page 111 the author quotes the LA Times,


“In early February 1990, US leaders made the Soviets an offer.  According to transcripts of meetings in Moscow on Feb. 9th then- Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation, US could make ‘iron-clad guarantees’ that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.”  Less than a week later, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to begin reunification talks. No formal deal was struck, but from all the evidence, the quid pro quo was clear: Gorbachev acceded to Germany’s western alignment and the U.S. would limit NATO’s expansion.”


Kovalik notes the promise was quickly broken and most of the old Warsaw Pact are now NATO members.  The expansion continues with the U.S. trying to enlist former Soviet Republics.  It is hard to argue that the world is better for NATO enlargement.


Chapter 7 CLINTON MEDDLES IN RUSSIA WITH DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES gives an account of the machinations of Bill Clinton’s presidency as regards the Yeltsin regime.  He did not do us proud.  Yeltsin was essentially our stooge until he knew he could not continue.  This led to Putin whose big sin is not being our patsy. 


Chapter 11 THE US EXPANDS AS RUSSIA CONTRACTS: BROKEN PROMISES AND HUMILIATION explores the project to extend our influence at the expense of Russia.  None of it is anything we can brag about, but the worst bit is our Ambassador Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland deciding the fate of the Ukrainian government after we had helped riot out an elected, if corrupt, president.  The pair were recorded doing just that and the heavy-handed discussion is rightly attacked by Kovalik.  He does not mention that the recording went “viral.” *


Mr. Kovalik eventually reaches the reality show of the recent American election.  The desire to blame the Russians for the inept campaign of Hillary Clinton is explored at length as are the commonsense pronouncements of The Donald.  


Suggesting that we not bug the Russkies and maybe overthrowing Syria was not a genius level idea appealed to a population that was tired of wars without result.  The Putin is the devil campaign left something to be desired with many including an old socialist like the author.


Post-election, Trump has not lived up to his better nature.  Kovalik notes on Page 170 that “it is never clear what Trump is truly thinking or intending.”  This is true and whether it is a good strategy or evidence of a scattered mind is a matter for debate.  Trump was quick in throwing some token bombs at a Syrian air base after a supposed chemical attack.  


Since the book has been published, the new president has not bombed North Korea.  He worked out an agreement with Putin for a ceasefire in South West Syria that is holding and cannot make the neocons in or out of his government happy, so we live in hope.


In his short book, Dan Kovalik covers a lot of ground.  The continuing demonization of a nuclear power makes his book an important resource for anyone who wants to understand what is going on.


Some of the author’s views are a bit one sided.  His favoritism of the now Soviet Ancien Regime can seem a bit overboard.  It is at odds with your reviewer’s memory of the brutal repression of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, and certainly the Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn.  Still, his account of the anti-Russian hysteria is well sourced with ample footnotes.  Unfortunately, with the media’s parroting of the hostile narrative, from NPR to The New York Times, do not expect him to get glowing reviews.


*The recording is still extant and one can hear it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV9J6sxCs5k .  After listening you may be forgiven for wondering if State recruits at clown colleges.