American Elephants


White House Correspondent Ed Henry Asks — Why? by The Elephant's Child

During today’s press briefing, Fox News White House Correspondent Ed Henry inquired of Press Secretary Josh Earnest whether it was prudent for the president to spend the weekend fundraising for his party and golfing while terrorist acts are being committed against the United States. Obama has stated that his administration has no strategy for dealing with ISIS. Henry asked Earnest:

I wonder what you think about the optics of the president, from that podium yesterday, does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS in serious military, and then next day, without that strategy, goes out and raises campaign money?

Is he detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore?” Henry asked. “Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?

Josh Earnest:

The job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different responsibilities at the same time,” Earnest replied, in defense of Obama’s fundraising and golfing. The secretary added that Obama has a national security team, to whom he has outsourced the job of looking after America’s national security challenges.

“Outsourced.” There’s a remarkable lot hiding behind that word.



The President Made a Statement to the Press. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama held one of his rare press conferences today, and even took a few questions. He announced to the world that he has no strategy to deal with ISIS.  Maybe later.

He announced that we aren’t taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. I’m sure Mr. Putin is relieved.

He’s sending Secretary Kerry to Iraq, because they have to develop a more inclusive government. Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy, but we don’t have that either.

He has, however, directed Secretary Hagel and the Joint Chiefs to prepare a range of options.

Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson, showed that our State Department is right up on things. She held up a little handwritten sign with a hashtag. I forget what it said, probably something about being concerned.

Our country is in the very best of hands.

The President’s statement is available here.

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Obama Can’t Identify the Problem, and Doesn’t Want To Deal With It. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, and on Monday he spoke at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention. To sparse applause, he said the answer for ISIS’s “evolving terrorist threat” is not for America to “occupy countries and end up “feeding extremism.” …

The answer is 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.

Still blaming Bush, after all these years. The White House is struggling to find a message on the Middle East, any message. Marie Harf, State Department spokesperson, refused to acknowledge ISIS’ declaration of war with the United States of America. A reporter said “The reality is ISIS has announced it’s in a war against America,” adding that “Right or wrong that is what they are saying.”

Harf  emphasized the administration’s view that ISIS does not accurately represent the religion of Islam as a whole.

ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.

The Islamic State is fairly clear on who they believe themselves to be. Max Boot, is also clear:

Want to know what happens when the U.S. retreats from a leadership role in the Middle East? This is what happens–Egypt and the United Arab Emirates together collaborate to stage air strikes against Islamist militias in Libya. And meanwhile Qatar, which is at odds with its fellow Persian Gulf sheikhdom, the UAE, has been funneling arms to the very Islamist militias that UAE’s air force is bombing.

American officials quoted by the New York Times are said to be fuming about these attacks, “believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution…. ‘We don’t see this as constructive at all,’ said one senior American official.”

But guess what? When the U.S. has abdicated its leadership role, there is no reason for anyone–not our enemies and not our allies–to listen to what we have to say. In the case of Libya, the American failure to do more, in cooperation with our allies, to build up central government authority has brought us to a point where this country is fast becoming a failed state consigned to perpetual civil war.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson offered the usual mush:

Libya’s challenges are political, and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. And that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.

You see the problem. Obama believed from the first that American interference  was the cause of all the problems in the Middle East, and if we would just lend our expertise to “peaceful resolutions” then he would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that he was so prematurely awarded.

Well, Hillary took a magical “reset button” to Russia, and Vladimir Putin decided the time was ripe to recover the Soviet Empire. Secretary Kerry has brokered “peace processes” and “cease fires” and misidentified intentions and misunderstood threats. We cannot even officially call the Fort Hood shooting terrorism, or call anyone a terrorist. This is not just a language problem, but a matter of facing up to reality instead of just wishful thinking.

“Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have said there are no credible threats to the United States from the Islamic State terror group.” according to an intelligence memo  issued to state and local authorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel described the Islamic State as “beyond anything we’ve seen.” He called on U.S. intelligence resources to “take a cold steely look” and to “get ready” for a “9/11 level threat” to the United States, and presents a “whole new dynamic” as a national security challenge.

Mush. It is all mush. We have another “cease fire” between Hamas and Israel, until Hamas is ready to fire some more rockets at Israel. The Islamic State has captured a region the size of Belgium, and is recruiting fighters from all over the Middle East, Europe, Africa and America and Canada, and growing exponentially.

They have captured a nation’s American military equipment; a Syrian air force base. aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons. They have demonstrated a brutality beyond imagining, and the State Department carefully doesn’t want to admit that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam. We are not only unprepared to address the threat, we cannot admit that there is a threat, nor describe it clearly. We’re still babbling about “brokering a peaceful solution.” We are easy prey .



Taking the ISIS Threat to America Seriously: by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-tank
Stating it plainly, David French laid it out in six sentences at NRO:

  1. Al-Qaeda carried out the deadliest attack on American soil in American history and the most devastating foreign attack against an American city since the British occupied and burned Washington in the War of 1812.
  2. ISIS is more brutal than al-Qaeda.
  3. ISIS has more financial resources than al-Qaeda.
  4. ISIS controls more territory—and possesses more firepower —than al-Qaeda.
  5. ISIS has seized uranium in sufficient quantities to make a dirty bomb.
  6. The leader of ISIS told his American captors: “See you in New York,” and ISIS militants have pledged to rise the black flag of jihad over the White House.

I would add that large numbers of the Islamic State fighters have been recruited from European countries and the United States and Canada — they have passports. The 9/11 terrorists came in on ordinary passports, they didn’t find it necessary to cross a border surreptitiously, though our currently open borders must be tempting.

“Brutal” isn’t a strong enough word. The Islamic State is recruiting by encouraging a kind of blood lust. Come join us and chop off people’s heads, whatever you ever wanted to do, in your wildest fantasies, to your enemies — come and let us fantasize together.

And now we learn that Obama dithered for a month after the rescue mission was planned. We have been told that the captured Americans were not where intelligence thought they were — was that information from before or after the month of dithering?



Dismantle The Islamic State Suddenly, Swiftly, Surgically by The Elephant's Child

General John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.) led the Marines in Anbar Province and was commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He is a distinguished fellow of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. His piece at Defense One is very worth our attention:

Make no mistake, the abomination of IS is a clear and present danger to the U.S. The only question really is whether the U.S. and its allies and partners will act decisively now while they can still shape events to destroy IS, an act that seems increasingly self-obvious. …

The U.S. is now firmly in the game and remains the only nation on the planet capable of exerting the kind of strategic leadership, influence and strike capacity to deal with IS. It is also the only power capable of organizing a coalition’s reaction to this regional and international threat. As a general officer commanding at several levels in the region, I can say with certainty that what we’re facing in northern Iraq is only partly a crisis about Iraq. It is about the region and potentially the world as we know it.

General Allen points out that the Islamic State is executing a well-thought-out campaign designed to dismantle both Syria and Iraq and replace them with an Islamic Caliphate. It is undoubtedly populated partly by former members of Saddam’s military, and has just captured a major Syrian air base with fighters and helicopter gunships. It includes an ugly mix of fighters from Chechens, Uighurs and  Pashtuns, but also Europeans and Americans. With their newly acquired wealth and American armaments, they are a force to be reckoned with. He adds:

The Kurds, the Sunnis and the Free Syrian resistance elements of the region are the “boots on the ground” necessary to the success of this campaign, and the attack on IS must comprehensively orchestrate these comprehensively diverse forces across the entire region.

The Islamic State, General Allen says,must be destroyed. If given the chance to consolidate its forces, they have been clear they will focus on Western and American targets. We must move quickly to break it up, destroy its pieces. Does President Obama have any understanding of the true nature of the threat? And does he understand what actions are needed? His vacation is over, and he’s due back at the White House. This seems to be the time for swift action.

Maybe you want to rethink dumping all those A-10s, while you’re at it.



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?



Is This What’s Called “Speaking Truth to Power?” by The Elephant's Child


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(Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily)                   Click to enlarge




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