American Elephants


Obama’s Touchy-Feely Foreign Policy Isn’t Working! by The Elephant's Child

As the United States plans to complete the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the US military and its Coalition partners are increasingly shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces.  If the transition is going to succeed, it depends a lot on the competence and strength of the Afghan military and security forces. So training has become a major focus of Coalition strategy, which depends on the work of the trainers with Afghan security forces.

The US Army has been ramping up instruction in the languages of Afghanistan, and in Afghan customs as well. Key installations have added several hundred speakers of Pashto and Dari to their ranks, more than doubling the number of soldiers trained in Afghan languages.

Attacks on Coalition forces — called green-on-blue attacks — have increased dramatically and emerged as a major threat, accounting for 14% of Coalition casualties. Commanders estimate that attacks are due to cultural differences and personal disagreement, but others estimate that about half have been carried out by Taliban infiltrators. Nevertheless the US military has become so concerned that they have ordered a designated ‘guardian angel” whose job is to provide security for troops working with Afghans. ISAF commander John Allen has recently directed all US and NATO troops to carry a loaded weapon at all times. They were previously forbidden to carry magazines in their weapons as a sign of trust, while Afghan trainees carried loaded weapons. There have been a total of 57 attacks. 

The US consulate where the American ambassador to Libya was killed is an “interim facility” which was NOT protected by the contingent of Marines that safeguards embassies. It was an unfortified building in a volatile city that has been targeted by jihadis before— and it was the anniversary of 9/11.

According to Marine blogs, the US Marines defending the US embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition, limiting their ability to respond to attacks such at the storming of our embassy in Cairo this week. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit US Marine guards to carry live ammunition. She neutralized any US military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the American Embassy. The Pentagon denies this and says no restrictions have been imposed. Reports indicate  the Obama administration was relying on Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-backed government to ensure American security.

— When the elite Border Patrol tactical unit known as BORTAC late on the night of Dec. 14, was working Peck Canyon, northwest of Nogales, they were hunting a predatory criminal gang that targeted drug couriers and illegals being smuggled over the border.  They ambush the victims for their drugs or possessions sure that it will never be reported.

The team, with night-vision equipment spotted five men carrying rifles moving through the canyon. One of the officers demanded that they drop their weapons. The suspects did not, so two Border Patrol Agents deployed their “less than lethal” beanbags at them. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was hit with one bullet and died shortly after. One of the suspects was also hit. Agency policy: beanbag rounds are one of the “less than lethal” shotgun rounds designed to deliver a stunning, momentarily incapacitating  blow to allow officers to rush in and physically control an ‘uncooperative’ suspect.

The standard doctrine is that less-than lethal weapons will only be used in situations where the suspects are not armed with deadly weapons of their own.

Filled with less-than legal shells, the shotgun is still a shotgun, when fired, a shotgun blast is heard, a flash and puff of smoke and the weapon recoils. Any person not immediately incapacitated is apt to return fire. Border Patrol officials lied at least once about the order to use beanbags, in an effort to cover up the murder of Brian Terry with “fast and furious” weapons.

— There is a discernible pattern here — born of notions that the United States must be just one nation among many, no more exceptional than any other nation, never throwing our weight around, appreciating diversity, respecting other cultures, and above all not being judgmental. People who live lives of apparent safety and comfort have difficulty appreciating how fragile the world is. We are always in more danger from our fellow man, and from bad ideas celebrated by those living their lives of safety and comfort.



For a Feckless Foreign Policy: Rules Clarify. by The Elephant's Child

The conversation, plentiful, about the events in Egypt and Libya today, was mostly around Governor Romney’s very appropriate remarks — which the media was very anxious to turn into an undeserved and uncalled for attack on Obama, politicizing an unfortunate event… blah, blah, blah.  In the general comments sections, liberals attempted to brand Republicans with the term “war-mongers,” and I heard the term “neo-cons” bandied about for the first time in ages.

It is important for foreign policy to be decisive. Firm lines must be drawn — you may go this far and no further, for a reason. Not to be a bully, but to establish what the rules are. That’s why games have rules, otherwise you’d have all these men running around a football field in big shoulder pads and helmets randomly tackling each other with no purpose. No touchdowns and not very interesting. Rules clarify. And they don’t always stay the same. Football is no longer played with the 1920 rules. Foreign policy could be described as a big clumsy game with nations pushing and shoving each other and posing and pretending. The rules keep changing, but they really need rules.

Liberals are very confused about rules. They want lots of them for other people, but for themselves, not so much. Yet when it comes to a squalling child in the grocery store who is grabbing things off the shelves — if you give said child a smack on the behind, they may well call child protective services. The child may learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Nobody is advocating beating a child.

The Obama government has set records for issuing regulations, yet no administration in the nation’s history has been so lawless — simply choosing which  of the nation’s laws they will obey and which they will ignore, in spite of any annoyances like oaths. Overregulation can lead to contempt for rules. So when it comes to drawing firm lines for other nations, this administration is feckless. I looked it up: feckless, adj. – lacking purpose or vitality, feeble, ineffective, careless, irresponsible. (from the Scottish feck, short for effect). Sounds about right.

Libya is a mess, with essentially no government, and everybody running around causing trouble: that game with no rules. Egypt is a different deal. They are the most populous of Arab nations, and desperately poor. Some people exist solely on government handouts of bread. The U.S. sends around $1 billion in aid each year. The new Muslim Brotherhood  president, Mohamed Morsi, had been invited to the White House. He is reportedly seeking a reduction or cancellation of Egypt’s debt to the U.S. He also wants the release of the blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahmani, who was behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, a variety of other offenses, and was a deputy of Osama bin Laden. That seems to be a wealth of material for drawing firm lines, but I don’t expect much.




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