American Elephants


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?



The Obama Administration Violated the Law By Releasing Gitmo Detainees in Exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. by The Elephant's Child

From Powerline:

The Government Accounting Office has concluded that the Obama Defense Department violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it transferred five detainee at Guantanamo Bay to Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits the Defense Department from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Gitmo unless the Secretary of Defense provides such notification.

The GAO also found that by using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act, as well.

These five individuals were considered to be the equivalent of “Top Brass” for the Taliban, and were transferred to Qatar, a government that is a major supporter of terrorist groups. It is a major backer of Hamas.

The prisoner transfer was part of the deal in which the Taliban released Bowe Bergdahl in another example of Obama’s disregard for the law, and common sense.

Obama has been intent on trying to empty Guantanamo Bay of any detainees, apparently under the assumption that the world hated us because we had detainees at Gitmo. Early detainees were pictured shackled, in orange jumpsuits behind a guarded fence, which naturally convinced the Left that the poor innocent detainees were being tortured by the hated George W. Bush. The detainees were better treated that their military guards, and most gained about 20 lbs. on generous halal food, which can certainly be called torture in a weight-conscious world.



A Few Words of Praise for Congress by The Elephant's Child

Operation Enduring Freedom

Before you get hung up on the “do-nothing Congress” theme, it’s time for a moment of praise. Before they left for their summer break, the Senate unanimously passed an extension to the U. S. visa program for at-risk Afghan translators who worked with American troops in Afghanistan. Many of them are living under the threat of retribution from the Taliban. The measure to issue another 1.000 visas was also passed by the House of Representatives unanimously.

The program had been criticized by advocates for the military translators, for its bureaucracy, opaqueness and slow pace. Recent reforms have improved the program to the point where for the first time the U.S. State Department ran out of the number of visas that Congress had authorized.

State has been distributing an average of 400 visas a month after reforms, which include the appointment of a coordinator between the State Department and agencies that conduct security and background vetting of visa candidates. It is the right thing to do, and a matter of national honor.



Global Chaos — and It’s Only the First of August! by The Elephant's Child

—Israel and Hamas were having a 3-day cease-fire at the behest of Ban-Ki-Moon and John Kerry. I’m not sure what they think they are accomplishing. This time, it lasted just 90 minutes, at which point Hamas sent a batch of suicide bombers into Israel, and killed two Israeli soldiers.  Then they kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Hamas is a terrorist organization that  wants the destruction of the State of Israel and the death of all its inhabitants. Israel wants Hamas to stop firing missiles into Israel, and they want to destroy all the terror tunnels Hamas has dug. Hamas is fighting to win.

ISIS is threatening Kurdistan, and the Kurds have asked the U.S. for military help. They have a good army, but spread a little thin because the border is so long. Obama turned them down, said they’d have to get help from Iraq’s central government—who are more than a little busy at present. Whatever emergency crops up, Mr. Obama is right on top of it.

—The Russia problem continues. The U.S. and the E.U. will impose new sanctions as soon as Monday, in the hopes that with the right balance of carrots and sticks, Mr. Putin will knock off the power grabs. Slap on the wrists and then we can all get back to ordinary business. Mr. Putin is just acting understandably. Ukraine is part of Russia’s historic sphere of influence, so let him have them.

This is Western self-deception. Mr Putin’s Russia is an authoritarian regime bent on redoing the Cold War. He has no democratic legitimacy, so to maintain power he must employ an increasing nationalism and foreign conquest to maintain power. Foreign meddling is not limited to just historic claims. Mr. Putin is not going to be swayed by either mild sanctions nor by reset buttons. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

The Obama administration often either denies any responsibility for the current global chaos or claims that it erupted spontaneously. Yet most of the mess was caused by, or made worse by, growing U.S. indifference and paralysis.

Over the last five and a half years, America has had lots of clear choices, but the administration usually took the path of least short-term trouble, which has ensured long-term hardship.

There was no need to “reset” the relatively mild punishments that the George W. Bush administration had accorded Vladimir Putin’s Russia for invading Georgia in 2008. By unilaterally normalizing relations with Russia and trashing Bush, Barack Obama and then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only green-lighted further Russian aggression, which has since spread to Crimea and Ukraine.

There was no need for Obama, almost immediately upon assuming office, to distance the U.S. from Israel by criticizing Israel’s policies and warming to its enemies, such as Hamas and the authoritarian Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan.

China, Iran, Syria, Libya, and oh, yes, North Korea, who just threatened to drop a nuclear weapon on the White House.

When the uprising in Syria against Bashar Assad arose, it was dominated by patriotic Syrian freedom fighters who asked for our help. Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the Arab world urged us to provide arms and help to the rebels. We didn’t. Iran and Russia did. They saw the larger importance of the conflict and poured in  weapons and personnel to support Assad. Somewhere in that period Obama did draw a red line, but it didn’t mean anything. The Saudis have clearly stated their opinion. We and the Europeans are naive and ineffective and as a clear result, they have been planning to obtain their own nuclear weapons.

In December of 2010, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his goods and the harassment from municipal officials. That began the Tunisian Revolution and the so-called Arab Spring. That was followed by the Egyptian Revolution  in January of 2011, a popular uprising against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and then in February, the revolution in Libya began with anti-government demonstrations in Benghazi, which escalated into a civil war. Egypt elected the Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a questionable election and finally the army took over again. The West condemned, demanded an end  to violence, was concerned — all the usual. We had an ambassador, his aide and two brave former Seals murdered.  And how preposterous does it look now to have attempted to blame that on an amateur video?

Libya is more than unstable, and we have pulled our embassy staff out of Tripoli. Walter Russell Mead is not so sanguine:

Throw in the resulting civil war in Mali and the scattering of insurgents and weapons to the four winds, and you have a classic exhibition of reckless incompetence—of American arrogance, ignorance, carelessness and moralism combining in a toxic stew to sink a fragile country we never understood.

Luckily for America’s self-esteem, it was liberal Democrats that produced this particular shambles. If Republicans had done this, the media would be on the administration non-stop, perhaps comparing Samantha Power to Paul Wolfowitz—a well-meaning humanitarian way over her head who wrecked a country out of misguided ideology. There might also be some pointed questions for future presidential candidates who supported this fiasco. But since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq.

ISIS is still rampaging over Iraq. Egypt, Jordan and even the Palestinian West Bank are hoping that Israel can eliminate Hamas as a power.  There is still civil war in Mali. We have set free the Taliban’s top generals in a misguided attempt to empty Guantanamo. Victor Davis Hanson adds:

Christians are being exterminated and cleansed from Iraq and Syria. But we seem to think they are equivalent to bible-thumping Texas evangelicals and their killers exotic versions of Che, and so the ethnic cleansing is rarely condemned. If Barack Obama would just close his eyes and envision ISIS, Hamas, or Putin as the Tea Party or Fox News, and then react accordingly, the world would be a safer place. …

The U.S. looks at the current global violence and then looks away, after a call for a “pivot” or a flash card calling for Boko Haram to give back the girls it has enslaved. Our generation’s version of the bad memories of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive is Iraq and Afghanistan. Like our grandparents of the 1930s, we feel that the dead lost abroad in the most recent wars were not worth it — and so ignore the gathering war clouds on the present horizon, as if ignoring them means they must disappear.

Glance about — Central America, Venezuela, China, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey, etc. — and the world outside the West is mostly a nasty place.  The three common denominators in all these catastrophes are the usual demagogic leaders blaming someone else for their people’s own self-inflicted miseries, a comfortable West that shrugs that somehow all these depressing things and mean people will just go away — and a tired global enforcer whose community organizer leader went into retirement and offers “make no mistake about it” warnings between swings on the golf course.




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