American Elephants


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.



He Didn’t Know! Can’t Be Blamed. Didn’t Know! by The Elephant's Child

bo_don_t_know_diddly_3_
(click to enlarge)

He didn’t know that these unaccompanied minors had all sorts of contagious diseases unseen in this country for years. He didn’t know that there were Mara Salvatrucha recruiters among the unaccompanied minors. He didn’t have time to go to the border to spare from his fundraising. He didn’t know there were Americans aboard that Air Malaysian plane that was shot down by Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, because he had fundraisers to attend. He didn’t know that the world turmoil hasn’t been this bad since the 1970’s. He was only a kid then, so he didn’t know.



World Turmoil Unseen Since the Seventies. Now What? by The Elephant's Child

A Wall Street Journal’s front page article on Monday said politely “Obama Contends With Arc of Instability Unseen Since 70s.” “A convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South Chin Sea, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and reflecting a world in which U .S. global power seems increasingly tenuous.”

The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam.

In the past month alone, the U.S. has faced twin civil wars in Iraq and Syria, renewed fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, an electoral crisis in Afghanistan and ethnic strife on the edge of Russia, in Ukraine.

Bewildered leftists say that he promised to end the War in Iraq, and wind down the war in Afghanistan and he did. He fulfilled his campaign promises. But there is ending and ending. I don’t know if anyone voted for Obama because he said he would end the War in Iraq. They voted for Hope and Change, and fancy theatrics and a litany of carefully crafted meaningless phrases.

Foreign policy is hard, and the big things may be controlled by the little things like personalities, and ego as well as deep knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of a country. Obama wasn’t much interested in foreign policy. He seems to have had in mind simply being the anti-Bush. Bush made wars, he would make peace. Bush had a muscular presence in the world and emphasized American strength. Obama wanted us to be just a nation among other nations, and let other nations deal with stuff. Obama found his national security briefings boring and quit going.

He yanked our people out of Iraq too abruptly and failed to establish a status of forces agreement to help prepare the Iraqi army for just what is happening now. The countries in Eastern Europe didn’t get their missile defense. Obama said in a May speech at West Point that the Obama foreign policy doctrine, would rely on U.S. leadership, but not troop deployments. Well, we’re not any good at the U.S. leadership business either, it seems.

A few meetings with Obama and Hillary’s “reset button” convinced Putin that nobody was likely to do anything, so he went right ahead to annex Crimea. The allies who had relied on America to prevent Russia’s ambitions lost confidence in American action as well. The Taliban got their leaders back. Obama drew a Red Line in Syria, and then erased it. The Arab Spring was misunderstood from the beginning, and the administration fell for the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to Egypt. The feckless John Kerry has been trying to solve the problems of the Middle East by forcing Israel to give more land to the Palestinian terrorists. The Chinese, watching our military downsize, have decided to upsize theirs and are vigorously growing their navy and submarine fleet and flexing their muscles in the South China Sea.

And there is the self-declared new Caliphate, now encircling Baghdad, another surprise to the administration, and our negotiations with Iran go on. We want assurances, they are happy to give assurances. We seem unable to learn that deception is a way of life in the Middle East, and expect an agreement to be worked out that will enable them to have all the sanctions lifted.To call it all an “Arc of Instability” is perhaps the understatement of the year. But the stakes have never been higher.

Jonathan Karl lists some of the “instabilities.” Obama, we are told, no longer talks to anyone but Valerie Jarrett and Michelle. We are in the best of hands.



Iraq Was The Dumb War, Afghanistan Was The Smart One, And Russia Is Our Friend! by The Elephant's Child

ISIS has now renamed itself as the Islamic State that has established a Caliphate stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria. They have bigger ambitions, however. Here is a map of their intended territory. The westernmost territory labeled Maghreb, is the Western Sahara, and includes Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and several other nations. They are reaching back to the Middle Ages when Muslims controlled Spain. They now incorporate almost every nation between Spain and the borders of China.

article-2674736-1F46221200000578-100_634x381

The map surfaced on social media as ISIS made strides in conquering cities in Iraq. They seem to be imitating the ruthless behavior of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. as they execute, murder, behead and crucify — sweeping all before them. The map was widely disseminated as the terrorist group formally announced the caliphate under their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who will be the Caliph.

Nine leading jihadist groups in Syria promptly rejected the claim. Their online statement said “the announcement by the rejectionists [the Islamic State] of a caliphate is null and void,” both “legally and logically.”They warn other jihadists individuals and organizations not to support the Islamic State.

Two of the nine signatories are the Islamic Front, a powerful rebel coalition that includes the al Qaeda-linked Ahrar al Sham, and the Majlis Shura al Mujahideen (MSM) in Deir Izzor. The MSM is an alliance of groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, that is opposed to the Islamic State in eastern Syria.

On its Twitter feed, the MSM posted a link to the statement rejecting the Islamic State’s announced caliphate. The MSM says the Islamic State’s announcement is part of “a systematic campaign to distort sharia terms” and the Islamic State has “distorted jihad, sharia, and [the rules for] punishment, and now they want to distort the Caliphate.”

Seeing pictures of little kids recruited as jihadists with their weapons is a little unsettling. These are kids 9, 10 and 11 years old.. On the other hand, an NGO in Syria confirmed that the Islamic State had crucified nine men who were not vigorous enough in their jihad.

Who knows how this will work out. The battle lines between the Islamic State and its rivals are not new. They are all trying to be the leaders. The Caliphate may not be real, but the brutality is. Their stated aim of attacking the U.S. is not encouraging.

The administration was caught by surprise by the ISIS advance. But then they were caught unprepared by Russian aggression. This is a major intelligence failure that should be sounding alarm bells in Washington. And in Afghanistan.the administration is surprised that the Taliban are moving hard against the democratic government. New York Times correspondents described one of the most sophisticated and coordinated assaults on the government in years. The Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in Northern Helmand province.

The reporters called it “a new worst-case situation for Western officials, an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.” Now why do you suppose the Taliban would attack while the Americans are busy elsewhere?



A Dangerous World — The Wages of Weakness. by The Elephant's Child

Obama Profile

No president in my memory has so often referred to himself as “the President of the United States of America”or as “the Commander in Chief,” as if he needs to keep reminding everyone of his importance. Perhaps I’m being unfair. George W. Bush often said of himself “I’m the decider.” That seemed to me to be a humble statement that the troubles of the world landed on his desk and he had to make a difficult decision—whether it turned out well or ill. As I said, perhaps I’m being unfair.

But Bush was right. Decisions have to be made. We may make a decision about Iraq, but as in all conflicts, the other side gets a vote. The Obama administration has admitted that they were blindsided by the ISIS invasion of Iraq and their rapid progress. Obama is accustomed to, well, dithering. He doesn’t like foreign affairs. He likes traveling with an enormous entourage to other countries and making a speech or two, but he came to office convinced that America was a world bully, interfering in other countries, and was no more exceptional than any other country. He has followed a deliberate policy of disengaging from the world and its quarrels.

We called it “the Apology Tour” when Obama made his way around the world bowing to foreign rulers and apologizing for our influence in world affairs. Democrats were offended at the name, but is that really what Democrats believe, that we should fail to assert a positive influence over world events? Or have they remained too enamored with Obama himself to have given it much thought? The world clearly expects more American leadership. Many countries have not done much about raising a military or acquiring major weapons because we were there.

Obama drew a red line that did not faze Assad, turned the Syrian bloodbath over to Vladimir Putin, which undoubtedly led the Russian president to launch his claim on the Crimea and his aggression against Ukraine. Obama frequently cites polls showing American “war weariness,” but just what is meant by that is not clear. America had won the War in Iraq, and Obama just wanted out. As Elliott Abrams said:

 So we got out, fully, completely, cleanly—unless you ask about the real world of Iraq instead of the imaginary world of campaign speeches. We could no longer play the role we had played in greasing relations between Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, and in constraining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian excesses. The result was an Iraq spinning downward into the kind of Sunni-Shia confrontation we had paid so dearly to stop in 2007 and 2008, and ISIS—the newest moniker for al Qaeda in Iraq—saw its chance, and took it.

So we’re back in Iraq—Obama has sent 300 military advisers. That’s a very small number.

I’m inclined to believe that just as members of a family have trouble getting along, so the natural state of world affairs is not peace and harmony. That doesn’t mean that we must be eternally engaged in war. Weakness invites ambitious nations to act on their ambitions.

Putin has long regarded the collapse of the Soviet Union as a disaster and wants to restore its position as a world power. The Mullahs in Iran are quite clear about their ambitions regarding the Great Satan and the Little Satan. The newly enriched and increasingly dangerous fanatics of ISIS have already warned that they will see us in New York. Germany has said the United States must consider a renewed military intervention. “It’s the Americans’ task to deal with security in Iraq.” The  French place the direct cause of the Iraqi implosion on Obama’s decision to back off from air strikes against the Assad regime last August as the fatal step.

Here are some excellent pieces on our current dilemma:



There Are More Than 50 Million Refugees, For the First Time Since World War II by The Elephant's Child

At the end of 2013, The United Nations Refugee Agency’s report released last Friday says, 51.2 million people were refugees. For the first time since World War II we have more than 50 million people driven from their homes, all too often in fear for their lives. And the numbers can only be increasing exponentially as Iraqis and Syrians flee to neighboring countries.

Of the 51.2 refugees— 12 million are being cared for by the United Nations aid agencies. 6.3 million of those have been displaced for more than five years. The largest numbers of refugees come from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. The exodus from Iraq has just started. The countries harboring the most refugees are Iran, Lebanon and Pakistan. At the time the report was released the greatest numbers came from the Syrian civil war, with more than 2.5 million Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries. Lebanon is only a small country of 4.5 million people— one fourth of those are refugees. They are quickly running out of basic necessities. And the chaos in Iraq only erupted this month. It takes a lot of fear to make you grab a little of your stuff and run.



The Bergdahl Blunder is Not About Bowe, But About Barack Obama by The Elephant's Child

The center of the Bowe Bergdahl scandal is not the young man who apparently deserted his post in wartime, but the President of the United States. President Obama was advised by senior military leaders not to make the prisoner swap with the Taliban. Barack Obama released five top Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. This has been compared to releasing five four-star generals belonging to the  enemy in the midst of war.

552x311xtaliban-dream-team.jpg.pagespeed.ic.5R8qrCkOAo

In fact he has been advised fairly continually since 2011, not to negotiate with the Taliban, and not to release these five Taliban leaders (the worst of the worst).

The Obama foreign policy was failing on every front. The president’s handlers developed a program to show that he was really in charge. The first was a quick flight to Bagram Airfield as the first photo-op. (See how I care about the troops). Two days later, there was a Rose Garden press conference to announce his decision about future U.S. troop levels and his timeline for ending the war in Afghanistan( in command) The next day he was off to West Point to deliver “a major foreign policy address” at the commencement ceremony (Commander in Chief). The address received polite applause from the cadets who had undoubtedly hoped the address would be about their future, since it was their graduation.

Back in the real world, setbacks in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine continued. China continued making increasingly aggressive territorial claims, Russia was doing the same, and the White House inadvertently “outed” the CIA station chief in Afghanistan.

It has been said for some time that the president frequently does not take intelligence briefings or chooses to ignore the advice offered by intelligence officers in those meetings, and relies on his close associates instead.When Russian tanks rolled into Crimea, the administration admitted it had no strategic warning of just what Putin was up to.

The Veterans Administration scandal broke to American outrage, and the president was sure that returning the long held prisoner-of-war to the bosom of his family would get the vets off the front pages. With progress on ending America’s overseas wars and closing the detention facility at Guantanamo, he expected a big jump in the polls. Didn’t work. Susan Rice was sent to the Sunday shows. Bergdahl was a hero, the president had an obligation to prioritize the health of Sgt. Bergdahl. His life could have been at t risk. The Taliban would kill him if word got out. (then they’d have nothing to trade), The Taliban would kill the deal if word got out. Something over 90 people in the administration and in Qatar knew about the deal, just not Congress. And the most recent is that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is the one who signed off on the deal. The president’s insistence on never accepting any blame for anything gets tiresome. The Bergdahl affair is something the president blames on his enemies in Congress. “I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up on Washington,” he said.

“The controversy whipped up by others” says an article in The Federalist is in reality President Obama’s desire to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. His administration has already written a memo contending that the executive does not possess sole authority on such matters. Obama’s drive to undo anything and everything done by his predecessor is hampered by the Constitution. You have “an increasingly hegemonic presidency that employs the Constitution as campaign fodder during election season but sees it as a nuisance otherwise.”

It has become clear that President Obama was motivated less by any desire to bring this particular prisoner back, than by a desire to make a deal with the Taliban. The president himself said that the deal could “open the door for broader discussions[with the Taliban] about the future [of Afghanistan] by building confidence.”

Which leads to the news today that al Qaeda has taken over Mosul. The Iraqi Army which was shaping up well, but unready for prime time, needed the extra time with U.S. Military help denied them by the Obama administration. The foreign policy of “Anti-Bush” has not worked too well. Not many people know that the major portion of the military death rate in Afghanistan was under Barack Obama. Obama came into office believing that his ability to make speeches that swayed people into doing what he wanted was all that was needed in American Foreign Policy. That hasn’t worked out either.

Add the problem that the Taliban have now got their hands on modern U.S. heat-seeking Stinger missiles. This is the result of the U.S. government’s efforts to arm the Libyan rebels which backfired, ending up with flooding weapons into Syria.

The prime duty of the President of the United States is foreign policy, protecting the United States of America. President Obama doesn’t like foreign policy and tries to avoid it. He believes in making deals, in negotiation. He believes firmly that peaceful negotiation leads to finding common interests which is the basis for agreements. The government of Iran, for example, believes firmly in the art of deception, which is approved by the Koran. As diplomats pronounce the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal dead, the ayatollahs have managed to string us along for eight months. So there we are.



Consequences. There Are Always Consequences! by The Elephant's Child

Well, a D-Day message. An Army officer serving overseas sent the following to Powerline:

Our troops serving overseas have received an e-mail from the “Threat Integration/Criminal Intelligence Branch”—e-mail subject line: “Kidnapping for Prisoner Exchange.” The message states that the risk to U.S. Soldiers of kidnapping in the wake of SGT Bergdahl’s prisoner exchange has increased. The message is issued as a result of “new operational hazards that pose a threst to personnel” with the following internal subject line:

Subject: Terrorist groups call for kidnapping of westerners and in particular U.S. Military members, combined with the recent release of U.S. Army Sgt Bergdahl increase the threat of kidnappings of military personnel.

The letter mentions that Al-Qaeda leaders (Zawahiri) encourage the kidnapping of Americans for the purpose of prisoner exchange and mentions Gilat Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas and released in exchange for 1,000 prisoners, before specifically identifying the release of SGT Bergdhal in exchange for 5 Taliban prisoners as potentially signaling to terrorists that kidnapping a soldier may increase the opportunity for release of American held prisoners.

The reason Obama did not notify Congress as the law requires is that he knew they would turn him down, because anyone even slightly familiar with war knows that the result of such action would be to endanger all Americans overseas. But he did it anyway.  Supposedly because he believed it will further conversations and negotiations with the Taliban, for whatever reason.  The Afghans in the villages were not consulted.



The Question Everybody is Asking? Why? by The Elephant's Child

obama-morehouse-speech-998x664

The American people are struggling to understand why President Obama would release five extremely dangerous top Taliban commanders to get a deserter back. The whole thing just reeks of incompetence—from the Rose Garden photo-op with Private Bergdahl’s parents to the spin attempts with Susan Rice once again on the Sunday shows with whoppers that no one believed, and Defense Secretary Hagel’s attempt to portray a poor POW in failing health, who must be rescued to save his life.

Did no one vet the Bergdahl parents before their Rose Garden appearance, or suggest that it would be better if Mr. Bergdahl did not lean into the microphone and start speaking Pashto? The video from the Taliban shows a fit and healthy Bergdahl with a gift scarf that concerts to a turban, and they want it known they were kind to him and considered him a friend. The worst of the worst, released from Gitmo to the run of the country in Qatar, have been joined by their families, free to …what remains to be seen. The result of releasing bad guys should be flashing a red light.

It is reasonable to assume that the young Obama did not play Army the way my son and his friends did. I wonder if he watched military movies like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan? Why would Obama refer to the Taliban as ‘folks?’ These are ‘folks’ given to beheading people, blinding or killing little girls for the crime of wanting to go to school. Afghan villagers are terrified of the release of Taliban leaders and have strong memories of the atrocities they committed.

According to the Washington Post:

The negotiations for Bergdahl’s release took shape in the early months of 2011 and evolved over the next three years into the agreement announced over the weekend.

When the talks began as part of what U.S. officials hoped would be a broader Afghan peace effort, U.S. envoys were forbidden to offer any detainees held in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a trade for Bergdahl. According to people familiar with the process, negotiators were allowed to include only Taliban fighters held at the detention center at Bagram air base, outside Kabul.

Top Army officers were so anxious to keep the matter a secret that they directed Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers to sign a non-disclosure agreement about Bergdahl’s 2009 decision to walk away from duty in Afghanistan.

An ugly situation, not improved by the spin attempts. Harry Reid claims to have been notified though no one else was. Harry Reid also claims that the president had to act fast to save Bergdahl’s life because the Taliban were going to kill him if the agreement leaked which would seem to be debunked by the video released by the Taliban of Bergdahl’s release and the helicopter extraction.

The White House seems to believe that America, as a war-mongering, bullying country, is the source of much of the evil in the world. We are not an exceptional country and should conform to international norms. When we are no longer bullies, we can make peace with the other countries of the world, and lead by example. This will lead to peace between a militant Israel and a peaceable Palestine, which will bring a real peace to the Middle East, because Israel is the source of all the troubles in the Middle East. Never mind the Sunni-Shia problems, Iran’s rush to develop intercontinental nuclear weapons, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and all their offshoots. Nice peace agreements are imminent if only we are more modest and moderate—or monumentally misguided.

A White House that believes a peace agreement with Iran is just around the corner if we only remove all sanctions (that brought them to the bargaining table in the first place), is beyond delusional. So we will continue to extract our support from our friends and hew to “international norms” (this is a good thing?) He told us in the beginning that he wanted to fundamentally transform America. Why didn’t we listen? We didn’t believe him. Remember the  embarrassing  Nobel Peace Prize?



The Story of Private Bowe Bergdahl In Five Amazing Versions. by The Elephant's Child

Bowe-Bergdahl-PoW

The Bowe Bergdahl  story is an interesting one. For the Obama administration it is an opportunity to prove how very much they care about our military, returning, at great price, one of our boys who has been a prisoner of war among the terrorist Taliban in Afghanistan. He has been a captive for five long years, and his family longs for his return. They are grateful that he has been rescued, and the entire town of Hailey, Idaho will turn out to welcome home their hero. Call this the political boasting story. Susan Rice was once again dispatched to the Sunday shows to tell the happy story.

The second story is that the White House and the president, embattled with the media proliferation of macabre stories about the mistreatment of veterans at our nation’s VA Hospitals. The bonuses and advancement of administrators were measured by wait times. The Obama administration set a goal in 2011 of 14 days as the longest a veteran should have to wait in order to see a doctor or nurse. A little bit of fudging led to more and there was an enormous scandal with 40 dead veterans, destroyed wait lists.  All over the headlines in every venue, and then information about the Indian Health Service started appearing, and it was clear a major distraction was needed. It was needed so fast that the minor law about giving Congress 30 days notice about releasing any detainee from Guantanamo couldn’t be observed. Five Taliban leaders, called extremely dangerous terrorists, were traded for Bowe Bergdahl. Obama summoned Bergdahl’s parents to the White House for a Rose Garden announcement of the good news that Bowe would be coming home.

Third story, told by the warriors  of Private Bergdahl’s former army unit: the guy sneaked out at night, deserted his unit, leaving behind his uniform and weapons. He had previously sent his stuff home. They searched for him for several months, enduring fire fights with Taliban, and 6 good men were killed in the effort to get Private Bergdahl back. His unit blames him for those deaths, considers him a deserter, and suspects he was working with the Taliban. Obama mysteriously promoted Private Bergdahl to Sergeant First Class, and successfully changed the headlines in the media from the VA scandal to the return of a prisoner of war.

Fourth story: Those with some knowledge of the military are appalled. Trading five high-risk Taliban prisoners for a captive who may have been working with the Taliban endangers Americans everywhere. If kidnapping an American will get five prisoners out of Guantanamo, no one is safe in Afghanistan or anywhere in the Middle East. America becomes a patsy that can be played. The Taliban leaders who have been released will return as soon as possible to the battlefield and to killing Americans. No one familiar with the Middle East believes that they will be detained for long in Qatar.

Fifth story: Obama’s naive belief in diplomacy as the solution to any foreign policy problem—  is a problem. The exchange does not make Obama seem strong and in command of the situation, but unusually weak, and willing to do anything to get rid of bad publicity. Our allies cannot count on the United States, and see Obama’s disinterest in foreign policy and contempt for the idea of projecting power, or speaking firmly and following through is obvious. He believes he was elected to get us out of Bush’s Wars, believes they were a disaster, and does not see any accomplishment to be maintained. Joe Biden was sent to get a status of forces agreement in Iraq, but could not manage it, so we left anyway. Now he has notified the Taliban of when we will leave, and will not attempt to preserve what was won at such cost.

That’s my take, you can take your pick, offer other choices, or tell me I’m way off. We’ll see how it develops. Honor and ethics don’t seem to have a role in the story.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,502 other followers

%d bloggers like this: