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.



Figuring Out Barack Obama. Take 137 A. by The Elephant's Child

I think I’ve got Obama figured out. Yes, yes, I know — join the crowd. The line is right over there. Just get in the back.

Obama has a  bad case of BBUL, not to be confused with a bubble, like the bubble occupied by most inhabitants of the White House. No, this stands for “Bright But Unusually Lazy”— BBUL. Valerie Jarrett gave us a clue:

I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. … So, what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.

Well, Law professor Richard Epstein disagreed. He said famously that Barack Obama “imitates an intellectual.”He got some flack for that statement, but he did not back down.

No, I have known several people like this. Given a book, or an assignment, they will read the introduction or the first few paragraphs and feel that they understand what the article or book contains. They know the rest of it and feel no need to continue, because they really get bored by reading. And they managed to get through college with snips and snatches of the material and filling in with a glance at the summary. Grade inflation in the Ivy League helped. They never studied any matter in depth, never re-read, and never discussed and compared the material with someone else. They already knew enough. And they never read further in the subject in books written by someone with a different take.

It’s the difference between passing a quiz and mastering a subject.

Ever notice in reports of meetings with Obama and how he sits back and absorbs what everyone has to say, then rounds up the important points and, changing them slightly, claims them as his own?

Or take the number of “Czars” in the White House. Granted, an artificial name for officials appointed by the president without Senate confirmation. Wikipedia claims 44 appointees for Obama, 11 for Bill Clinton, 33 for George W. Bush but the numbers aren’t really important. We know there are a lot. And they seem to be appointed to be experts in subjects or policies that Obama doesn’t know much about. He has, reportedly, asked that they present him with a very short summary on a policy and 3 choices. From those he will pick one as his policy.

It is reported that he doesn’t like meetings, and does not attend them. That he seldom attends his national security briefings. That he talks only to his closest advisors, mostly Valerie Jarrett.

So that’s where we are. The September 7 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reports that 67% of the people believe the country is on the wrong track, more than at this point in any midterm election is two decades. Daniel Henninger in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal:

In a 2008 New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, Mr. Obama is quoted telling another aide: “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.” Also, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters.”

In the days before Mr. Obama’s ISIS address to the nation, news accounts cataloged his now-embarrassing statements about terrorism’s decline on his watch—the terrorists are JV teams, the tide of war is receding and all that….

Some of these gaffes came in offhand comments, but others were embedded in formal speeches from the presidential pen, such as the definitive Obama statement on terrorism last May at the National Defense University: “So that’s the current threat—lethal yet less-capable al Qaeda affiliates.” A year later, ISIS seized one-third of Iraq inside a week.

I don’t know. I’m worried about what might happen tomorrow. I found myself wishing something horrible would happen to wake up this president, and then was horrified at the wish. It would make no difference to Obama. Major Hassan massacred his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, and the administration has never been able to acknowledge anything beyond “workplace violence.” The Tsarnaev brothers bombed the Boston Marathon. The shooting at the Navy Yard  in D.C. left 13 dead. All on Obama’s watch. And he still has trouble with the terrorism word.

A reluctant president goes to war. Will he be there when the going gets rough? Somebody in the White House said a day or so ago that they would leave this war for the next administration.



War On a Terrorist Organization That is Not Islamic, With No Boots On The Ground? by The Elephant's Child

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That was a very odd speech. This is a long way from the soaring rhetoric of the campaign or the inauguration. I didn’t watch, that was asking too much. I listened on the radio. But he was not commanding, but belligerent. His speech came in those little bursts that he uses when he is particularly angry. He said he had all the authority he needed to do what he wanted, and Congress should make themselves useful by giving him the money needed.

No boots on the ground, but he was going to lead a large coalition, and they would attack and degrade ISIl forces, and we would train Iraq and Free Syrian forces, but no boots on the ground, (except for all the personnel and equipment needed to train those forces and defend our embassy) but we wouldn’t have any boots on the ground.

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“ISIL is not Islamic? No religion condones the killing of innocents.” John Kerry said something equivalent. The Koran is full of killing, and beheading. It is completely intolerant of unbelievers, other religions, and anyone who has not submitted to Islam. How can you wage war, even a minor airstrike war, and fail to grasp the nature of the opposition?

But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.

Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.

If you want to distinguish ISIL from other Muslim countries, add “radical” or “terrorist” to Islamic each time. But do not pretend that they are not motivated by a radical version of Islam. It’s a fine distinction, but don’t pretend it away.

Then he drifted off into his usual roundup of his accomplishments, which keeps getting heavier on the things accomplished by others during his tenure, and things that just haven’t been accomplished at all.

Very odd speech, quite short, only about 20 min. Pretty much what was expected.

Do you think Obama ever went to a war movie?  Or read a military history? Or even a military thriller by one of today’s popular novelists? Just asking.

“This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

“This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”

He said over the last month”we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq.” Col. Ralph Peters remarked that he should have conducted 150 airstrikes on the first day. That would be a start.



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.



What About American Citizens Who Have Gone to Fight With ISIS? by The Elephant's Child

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The Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) says the number of Americans who are fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is “in the hundreds.” He says:

There are “hundreds” of Americans “that have at least one time traveled, participated, and trained with them. Some of them have drifted back [to the U.S.], some of them have gone to Europe.”

Rogers says the group appears to have carried out attacks on Europe already.

You saw the Brussels event, the attack on the Jewish Museum. That was, we believe, an ISIL-led or inspired event. So that was the first time that they had attacked, we believe, outside their borders.”

It is my understanding, and I really don’t know, that taking-up arms against the United States of America is not just a passport-losing event, but a go directly to prison event. That anyone who has participated with ISIS who tries to reenter the U.S. should be arrested at the point of entry, but I have heard nothing whatsoever about this.

What About American Citizens who have chosen to fight with ISIS? Probably wouldn’t matter since we now have open borders anyway. I would like to feel that someone out there, from ICE or Homeland Security is paying attention, but that is probably too much to ask. We have the anniversary of 9/11 coming up, which is always a popular occasion among terrorists.



The Rise of Terrorism — And the Response: by The Elephant's Child

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Speaking as a partisan right wing-nut, and a 4th generation Republican at that, the Republican presidents with which I am familiar — would have bombed the hell out of every ISIS-known stronghold by now.

President Obama spoke yesterday from the Edgartown School in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Among other things he said:

So ISIL speaks for no religion.  Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.  No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.  ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings.

But they call themselves The Islamic State, they claim to be establishing “a new Islamic Caliphate” and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has proclaimed himself the Caliph. A few days ago, it was claimed that ISIS, which arose out of the defeated Sunni ‘militants’ of al Qaeda in Iraq fighters, had been banished by al Qaeda in February, but apparently, since ISIS has been pretty successful in getting financing (robbing banks and ransom money for hostages), and acquiring a vast store of American weapons, al Qaeda is claiming them again.

We have seen videos of all sorts of jihadists, including little children, who proclaim that God requires them to do jihad until all the unbelievers are gone.  Early in Dexter Filkins essential book The Forever War, he spoke of talking to some Pakistani prisoners in Lejdeh in Northern Afghanistan.

Then there was Faiz Ahmad, seventeen, wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, a hajj cap and no beard. He seemed listless like the others, but when I asked him a question, he came alive.
“It is written in the Koran that we must kill the nonbelievers,” Ahmad said. “My teacher taught me this.” … “There is no end to the jihad,” Ahmad said.”It will go on forever until doomsday.”

I understand the politically correct need to proclaim that Islam is a Religion of Peace, and there are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, just under the numbers of Christians, and most are not jihadists. But how are the 1.6 billion going to stamp out the very noisy jihadists who want to destroy us all, if we keep saying ‘never mind, it’s really a religion of peace? “Sayyid Qutb, one of the intellectual forefathers of jihadist thought, believed that Islam could not truly be practiced without a caliphate unifying the Muslim world and implementing Islamic law.”

President Obama, in his statement, added that “we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.” Attorney General Eric Holder said today that his Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the brutal execution by Islamic State militants of American journalist James Foley, in the latest move by the administration to use the criminal justice system to pursue terrorists.

I assumed it was a military matter, but political correctness trumps all. “Speaking truth to power,” as the saying goes — doesn’t have much truth in it. And considering consequences is seldom involved. The Islamic State may be rich in cash and weapons, and according to Al Jazeera has jihadis flocking to their cause, but al Qaeda has the linked organizations all over the world. Killing bin Laden did not make the threat go away, To the contrary, we now have jihadists with American and European passports.

Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was killed in early 2002, was killed for the same reason that an ISIS fanatic killed James Foley — to convey an impression of strength— an admission of weakness instead. Max Boot has outlined the necessity for a military intervention and its essential nature.

Janet Daley, writing in The Telegraph sums it up with clarity in a column that asks “What does the Obama White House stand for?”

Barack Obama is discovering – rather belatedly – precisely what is involved in being president of the United States. How he has managed to avoid this for his first term and a half in office is a historical peculiarity. But we are where we are. He now has a full-blown, world-threatening foreign crisis in which the decisions that he makes from one minute to the next might result in immediate mass slaughter, a prolonged war or a gradual de-escalation of the conflict – or possibly all three in progressive stages. At the same moment, bizarrely, he is facing a domestic upheaval of staggering proportions: the return of riots and racially based violence in the urban streets of a kind which his very election as president was supposed to have made a thing of the past.



Are We Capable of Learning From History? by The Elephant's Child

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What do you do with human nature? Good and Evil? There have been many articles portraying the Islamic State, ISIS or IS, as pure evil—yet they see themselves as purifying their world by eliminating those who do not worship their real God properly. They are tearing down shrines and archeological monuments as antithetical, destroying the past as portrayed by rival religions. They are not just demanding adherence to their version of Islam, but those who don’t submit instantly are slaughtered, executed, crucified, beheaded or buried alive. All in the name of religion. Clearly, they believe they are doing good.

Obama, to all appearances, believes that America’s assumption of world leadership has been immoral and has caused almost all the world’s problems over the past century, and we need to let others take the leadership position so we can be something more like a big Belgium. He has been forced by world events to take notice, but he doesn’t want to do it, he finds the ways prescribed to tackle events disagreeable, and he would much prefer to just tell everybody to stop it and start getting along. To make matters worse he keeps telling everyone that he won’t do anything actually unpleasant because he would prefer to be admired. That has no restraining effect on our enemies. That Nobel Peace Prize was a long time ago.

This is in total agreement with a major sector of the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Warren, leftist crackpot, said that “the president has now taken two very targeted actions, and those two actions will change the mix of what’s happening in Iraq, and we’ll just have to monitor it.”

“The point is there has to be a negotiated solution in Iraq, but we don’t negotiate with terrorists. This is partially a question of whether the U.S. government negotiates or whether we have the Iraqi government doing these negotiations, and how we help support them as they try to maintain an integrated country, and a country that better represents all of the people who live there.”

I don’t think the president’s actions will change anything, except IS will spread out more so they are not such good targets. Nobody is interested in the slightest in negotiation, or in sharing a nation. It is way too late for that. There may be a moment in time when antagonist forces are open to just stopping their losses, but that was before they became the richest terrorist group on earth and the best equipped.

Obama is still certain that he can negotiate a settlement between Hamas and Israel, that somehow he can persuade the Israelis to give up enough land and freedom to satisfy Hamas and there will be a “two-state solution.” He really cannot get it through his head that Hamas just wants all Israelis dead. Genocide.

Understanding human nature means grasping the depths to which human evil can descend. We read about it, but we just don’t get it. The media, to protect our sensibilities, carefully blurs the heads and the bodies of the victims of the Islamic State. We have a picture today of a little kid, 7 years old, with a decapitated head in a bag over his shoulder. You can’t see the head, just the bulge in the bag. Small children are being offered weapons so they can go kill infidels for the glory of Allah. What do you do with the mentality that glorifies killing and celebrates blood lust?

There are lessons to be learned from every conflict, but we seldom learn them. We prefer to be entertained, and wait for the media to tell us what they believe we ought to know. The media, in general, are not up to the task. We have an obligation to study up, to understand our own times and our own history. We expect our representatives to manage our affairs responsibly, and we elect representatives who are neither responsible nor qualified.  Will they learn the lessons of history?

Democracy cannot thrive without a certain diet of truth. It cannot survive if the degree of truth in current circulation falls below a minimal level. A democratic regime, founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decisions in ignorance of reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions.
………………………………………………...Jean-Francois Revel




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