American Elephants


Nobody’s in Charge, Nobody Knows Anything, Incompetence Reigns. by The Elephant's Child

The world is in flames, and those in charge don’t seem up to the job of taking charge. The CDC can’t get their information straight, and can’t seem to talk straight. Panic is allayed with calm, correct information, and knowledge of the facts. The Wall Street Journal addressed the question by saying “the fire-brigade approach clearly isn’t working. A sustained, coherent policy is vital to preventing pandemics.”

The spokesman who attempts to soothe the population with platitudes only makes matters worse. Straight talk, good information. When President Obama declared Ebola a National Security issue, he didn’t calm people’s fears, he inflamed them.

Americans are debating the wisdom of sending several thousand troops rather than asking whether U.S. assistance is organized as efficiently and effectively as it should be? Rather than an effort to deliver effective risk information, we were told that it was unlikely anyone with Ebola would ever enter the country and chances of an epidemic were extremely low.

ISIS is approaching Baghdad, taking precautions to avoid attack with our airstrikes, just as we were told that they would, melting into the population, ending their long parades of armored vehicles. There is some evidence they are using chemical weapons. The Kurds fight on, but desperately need the weapons we have not bothered to give them. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that:

Kobani is just one community, and it’s a tragedy what is happening there…but we have said from day one it is going to take a period of time to bring the coalition thoroughly to the table, to rebuild some of the morale and capacity of the Iraqi army, and to begin to focus where we ought to be focusing first, which is in Iraq.

Enterovirus D68 is raging, and we are calmed with claims that it goes away in the winter, so don’t worry. Every mother knows that kids bring everything home from school, so people worry.

But never fear. “The Pentagon released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security with  increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster response as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.”

The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration….

While foreign policy experts have for years warned that climate change could present a future risk to national security, the Pentagon’s characterization of climate change as a threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military.

Never one to be outdone in the absurdity category, Secretary of State John Kerry  declared “Life as you know it on Earth ends if climate change skeptics are wrong.”

“But even if climate alarmists are wrong, nothing bad can come of enacting their taxes, restrictions and regulations,” Kerry said in a speech at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Another Democrat who never took a course in economics:

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

Eighteen years of a complete lack of warming, and nobody seems to notice that the more immediate danger is a very cold winter and the EPA trying to shut down all of our coal-fired power plants with nothing — nothing — to replace that electricity. Numbers of hurricanes are way down, Numbers of  tornadoes are way down. But those are weather, not climate.

We are in the best of hands. When everybody is completely incompetent, what can possibly go wrong?



The New York Times is Astonished At Republican Concern About Secret Service Failings by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times, the “paper of record,”is apparently astonished to find Republicans, who regularly criticize the president, showing concern for Secret Service failings in protecting the president and the White House. They assume that is merely a political ploy of some sort. They hate Republicans, want them permanently defeated, jailed, put in camps, killed, gone. They are unable to tolerate dissent, and believe that Republicans hate the president, and not only that, hate him because he is black. That is the theme they try to impress on blacks. If we don’t like the president’s policies, then we must wish him dead? Astonishing.

The headline today was “Showing Concern for the President, Even While Criticizing Him.” Even?

President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy. Although the target of the legislative scrutiny is the Secret Service, not the president, the furor over security has left the White House on the defensive.

The American Interest noticed as well “GOP Taking Advantage of Events to Make WH Look Incompetent?”

Those horrible, mean, nasty Republicans are apparently “using” the revelations that the Secret Service isn’t being managed very well to create an impression of general incompetence at the White House. Here’s the money graph from the New York Times:

So unfair! Botch the public rollout of your most important domestic political program, fail to reform the VA after campaigning on a promise to do exactly that, and then make serial misjudgments about world affairs while Russia launches a war against Ukraine even as the U.S. goes back into Iraq—and those awful Republicans start a whisper campaign about your competence. Right before midterms, too! Have they no shame?

I am very critical of the president’s policies, and the Democrat Party’s policies. I believe they are responsible for the worst economic recovery ever.  The recent recession was not the worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s. It ended, officially, in 2009. ObamaCare is a badly conceived disaster. Immigration is an unfolding disaster. Federal agencies are corrupt and show no signs of improvement. Foreign policy is one misjudgment after another. I think Obama was unprepared for the office and mistook his ability to sway audiences with his speeches for qualification for the highest office. But I don’t hate him personally. I don’t wish him harm. I don’t know of any Republicans who do. I oppose his ideology with all my being, but he is the president, and I respect the office.

Democrats hated George W. Bush and wanted him dead, because he was a Republican and because he was president. They hated everything about him. They said so. They hated the way he walked. They hated the way he talked. They hated his “squint.” They hated that he was from Texas. Doubt me? Here is the evidence, if you have forgotten.



The Rise of the New Caliphate and Its Inevitable Fall by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-fighters
Here’s your Sunday reading assignment. I know, I  know, you don’t have the time, and why should you pay any attention to my advice about your choices in what you want to read anyway? I read these three pieces and have been pondering them ever since. Real food for thought, and I’d love to start a conversation. But of course it’s entirely up to you. You would find them deeply informative, in contrast to the media take.

— The first is a conversation between Michael Vlahos, a professor of history at the Naval War College, and John Batchelor on the John Batchelor show on Friday, September 26. They remind us that Syria is a product of the West’s attempt to cut up and redefine the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of the First World War. Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and Wilson attempted to divide up the Ottoman Empire into nation states in imitation of — ourselves. Professor Vlahos’s theme is our lack of understanding of Islam and the Middle East — and the quagmire we are blundering into without understanding. It’s just over 18 minutes, but worth your time.

— The second is an article by Edward N. Luttwak,  from the Hoover Institution’s “Strategika” which intends to use conflicts of the past as lessons for the present: “Caliphate Redivivus? Why a Careful Look at the 7th Century Can Predict How the New Caliphate Will End.” Never fear, the article is hardly long enough to compensate for the long title. It takes us on a speed run through the history of the Muslim Caliphates, to note that when modern Muslims invoke the Caliphate as their ideal of governance for the Ummah, the planetary community of all Muslims and all humans once converted or killed if stubbornly pagan, they refer way back to the rule of Muhammad’s first four “rightly guided” successors who followed one after another after his death in 632. Not least because their reign saw the collapse of the then all-powerful  Roman and Sassanian empires who had long dominated all the lands of the Middle East fertile enough to be worth ruling. Wildly improbable victories, that were soon followed by waves of conquest across northern Africa to the Atlantic and as far east as the eastern edges of Central Asia.

— The third is another piece from the Hoover Institution’s “Strategika” on “The Rise and Inevitable Fall of the ISIS Caliphate” by Peter R. Mansoor. The rise of the modern al Qaeda in the Hindu Kush in the Soviet-Afghan conflict in the 1980’s goal is to 1.) attack the”far enemy” — the United States— to force its withdrawal from the affairs of the Islamic world, 2.) destabilize the “near enemy” — the Arab/Islamic states of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia 3.) destroy Israel, and 4.) recreate the caliphate that ruled the Islamic during it’s heyday a millennium ago. The first part of the strategy was 9/11.

The near-term response was not what they expected, but the longer-term outcome may be more in their favor as Americans seem to tire of seemingly endless conflict. The U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq along with the more recent uprisings of the Arab spring have seriously weakened a number of the Islamic states. The new jihadist proto-state in Mesopotamia and the Levant is an emerging reality.

Is it really a case of no matter what we do—we’re screwed? Or is it only a case of treading cautiously and encouraging alternatives around the inevitable collapse of the Islamic State?

A ” transparent” White House would help, and a media more interested in reporting the facts would also help — but in the meantime we’re left to our own defenses. Informed is better than the alternatives.



There Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Across The Middle East And Africa by The Elephant's Child

While all our attention is focused on Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria is sweeping across northeast Nigeria with equally brutal means to attempt to break up the most populous nation on the continent.

Boko Haram overran Gwoza, a city of about 275,000 in Borno state, declaring on August 24, that the town now had “nothing to do with Nigeria”— and declared it part of “the Islamic caliphate.

This is the area where the kidnapping of schoolgirls in April gave birth to the hashtag campaign #Bring Back Our Girls. Wars are not won and problems are not settled with hashtag signs. Other events in the news cycle soon took over the attention of the world. Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau called the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as among his brethren, as well as al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Security experts have said that Borno state may be the start of Boko Haram’s new country. They are aggressively attacking the Nigerian military which is poorly equipped and under armed.

It is a particularly vicious  terrorist organization, linked to other terrorist organizations. Bombings, assassinations and kidnappings, genocide on Christians, attacks on schools where the students are taken if they are girls, or slaughtered if they are boys, and they have begun to operate like a conventional army with tanks and artillery.

When these groups are victorious their recruiting is more successful. They seem like conquering heroes and the bloodlust and brutality are an attraction until their armies are decimated, and reality sets in.



We Have No Strategy and No Prospect of Getting One. by The Elephant's Child

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I find it truly interesting that Liberals are so much less concerned than Republicans are about the threat of terrorism, of militant Islam, of the actual threat to the United States, and why this should be so.

Liberals care about power — theirs. They don’t like mass democracy (in spite of their party name), middle class capitalism, the individual businessman’s pursuit of profit as well as the individual citizen’s self-interested pursuit of success. They care about being in charge, about the administrative state. Liberal social programs don’t work, they are not as good at administration as they like to think, and their experts aren’t all that expert — but the next program will surely work. Liberals have no foundational principles, but react to events on a case by case basis as they occur.

They essentially bypassed the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by lumping them under their hatred for George W. Bush, and didn’t learn much of anything about the countries, the wars, the people or the threats, and their only interest was in getting past it. It has left them dreadfully ill-prepared to understand foreign policy and national power and its needful uses. Nor, lost in a mush of political correctness and tolerance, are they even able to call mass murder and genocide — terrorism. They are simply unprepared to grasp the potential threat that faces us, nor able to plan how to treat with it. We are easy prey.



The Painful Work Of Crafting A Winning Message! by The Elephant's Child

Obama is having a hard time developing a message. 1.) “We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its finances, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

And 2.) “So the bottom line is this: Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

Sphere of influence? Manageable problem? In his statement on Sotloff’s murder, Obama said the killers “make the absurd claim that they kill in the name of religion , but it was Steven, his friends say, who deeply loved the Islamic world.” Absurd?

Obama said: “[W]hat we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.” Who are the “international community” and what does “organizing the Arab world” mean?

This is all so confused. It’s a morass of misunderstandings, political correctness, multiculturalism, ignorance and plain old leftist theology. ISIS has changed their name several times, always beginning with the word “Islamic” — the latest iteration is the Islamic State. They are restoring the Islamic Caliphate, and they are not killing in the name of religion? Of course they are.

You noticed the vast demonstrations across the world by Muslims rising up to denounce the beheadings that ISIS claimed to be doing in the name of Islam, didn’t you? The Moslem religion has a sector of it that is intent on returning to the 7th century, is extraordinarily violent, intolerant, and viciously cruel. The part that is the “Religion of Peace” needs to figure out how to deal with the 7th century part. And this is what Obama speaks of “organizing”?

The Left was so busy hating George W. Bush and therefore hating the War in Iraq, that they never managed to gain any understanding of why we were there, what we accomplished and what we didn’t accomplish and why. They didn’t learn anything about Iraq, or about the people and most of what they did learn wasn’t true.

Obama blamed America for the rise of ISIS. At the American Legion’s National Convention last month, he said the answer for ISIS “evolving terrorist threat: is not for America to “occupy” countries and end up “feeding extremism.” “The answer in not to send in large scale military deployments that over stretch our military, and lead for us occupying countries for a long period of time and end up feeding extremism.” That didn’t go over particularly well with the Legionnaires. It’s gobbledygook.

You can see what a mess his view of Iraq is. He probably thinks his greatest accomplishment was getting us out of Iraq, and the faster the better.  With the press telling us constantly about the “war-weary” American people, he undoubtedly thought he was doing just the thing that would make him popular, but you don’t want to put too much faith in the American media, nor in polls. Obama has known about the rise of ISIS for over a year, but been uninterested in the briefings. When he got the troops out and downsized our military, he thought he was done. He doesn’t know how to do war.

Yet he has watched ISIS grow exponentially, gain wealth unimaginable from capturing Iraq’s banks and businesses and from capturing the oil fields, and gain high quality military equipment from what fleeing Iraqi troops left behind. Now they have captured an airfield in Syria, to round out the supply of helicopters, tanks and trucks. We are told that America is conducting “targeted air strikes” but further information tells us “we destroyed a couple of trucks.” Not quite what I thought targeted air strikes meant.

All the leftist claptrap of the past 40 years, the multiculturalism, the political correctness, the invented rights, cultural relativism, views of the other, not only color our views of a different culture, but prevent understanding  and make “organizing” the Middle East a little difficult. So it is not surprising that Obama cannot come up with a strategy or see the situation clearly. At least Joe Biden was a little clearer—he recommended Bombing ISIS back into the Stone Age.

At a ceremony today to appoint Texas Lawyer Shaarik Zafar to be special representative to Muslim communities, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was the United States’ “Biblical responsibility” to ” confront climate change,’ which included protecting “vulnerable Muslim majority countries.

Kerry said Scripture, in particular the Book of Genesis, make clear it is our “duty” to protect the planet and we should look at Muslim countries “with a sense of stewardship of earth,” adding, “That responsibility comes from God.”

Members of Congress are a lot clearer, or at least the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) said they are on the same page. “This is exactly the reason why we have to go after ISIS, why we cannot just let them wreak havoc there. They are killers. They are Brutal,” Rep Engel said.
“Target them and target the terrorist training camps where they’re bringing thousands of fighters from around the world,” said Royce. “Those camps and the munitions should be targeted as well.”

Obama’s inability to come up with a strategy is causing dismay on both sides of the aisle, and members of Congress are quite ready to speak out, both to urge action from the president and to stake out their own positions for the upcoming election.



Foreign Policy is Hard. A Crumbling Worldview. by The Elephant's Child

In today’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked why the administration was unwilling to negotiate with terrorists in the case of journalist James Foley, yet in the case of Bowe Bergdahl  he was willing to release five important Taliban leaders from Guantanamo.

“I think, again, what the president made clear at the time of the Guantanamo transfer was that his commitment to the men and women that serve overseas is a bedrock one, that we will leave no man or woman behind. That’s what he was keeping faith with, and that’s something that’s unshakeable for him,” Schultz said.

“As we’ve made previously clear, the administration determined that it was lawful to proceed with a transfer in order to protect the life of a U.S. servicemember held captive and in danger for almost five years, notwithstanding that Congress did not receive the 30 days’ notice. Again, we disagree with GAO’s conclusion and we reject the implication that the administration acted unlawfully.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes earlier called the beheading of James Foley a” terrorist attack.”

The fact of the matter is, we’ve actually seen, you know, ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort. And so the president’s decision to take military action a number of weeks ago was out of direct concern that if they were able to get into Erbil, that they could pose a threat to our personnel and our consulate there. So, we have seen them posing a threat to our interests in the region, to our personnel and facilities in the region, and clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he’s an American and we see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that.”

Can’t let accusations that the president possibly didn’t do enough to try to get Foley back. Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said that it attempted to rescue the American citizens held by ISIS last summer. Se added that they could not reveal details of the operation. Then more administration spokesmen kept revealing more details. The Pentagon had a statement, Marie Harf, embarrassing State Department spokesperson, had a statement. I don’t know who else had a statement, but we have learned way too many details. We really didn’t need to reveal any details of a failed operation, supposedly based on bad intel.

Except the president’s advisers are quite determined that everybody should know that he did too care, and he ordered an operation, and it’s not his fault if r else screwed up. The misunderstanding is that the most important thing at this time when the president is relaxing on vacation, is to know that he’s completely on top of everything. No it’s not, and he isn’t.

What we must remember about ISIS, or any of the terrorist organizations, is that they advance by causing terror. The more they can scare every observer, the more people will do their bidding. They want to do the awfulest, most horrifying thing ever seen — to impress upon the rest of the world that — resistance is futile.

The president’s worldview is crumbling under the assault of events. He was convinced that getting us out of Iraq completely, closing Guantanamo, and getting us out of Afghanistan would make him an historic figure. Giving everyone medical insurance, and moving the nation away from dreaded fossil fuels and into safe, natural energy from the wind and the sun would be transformative. He would be the strongest  possible contrast with the hated George W. Bush. But the world is isn’t as simple as he presumed.

If he was elected to get us out of Iraq, he is now faced with getting us back in. Drone strikes and air strikes may not be enough, yet he is unable to admit error. What next?




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