American Elephants


700 Civilians Killed In Just Two Days in Syria, but The News Is All About Gaza. by The Elephant's Child

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The outrage over Israel’s attempt to end Hamas’ rocket attacks on their civilians has brought demonstrations in Europe and even here. Hamas goes to great lengths to see that any news is slanted to favor Hamas, for to them any opportunity to discredit Israel or even cause them discomfort  is a triumph over a hated enemy. In other words, you cannot believe Hamas’ counts of civilian deaths or deaths of children. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

Hamas sees the death of its civilians as an advantage; Israel sees the death of its civilians as a disaster. Defensive missiles explode to save civilians in Israel; in Gaza, civilians are placed at risk of death to protect offensive missiles.

Hamas wins by losing lots of its people; Israel loses by losing a few of its own. Hamas digs tunnels in premodern fashion; Israel uses postmodern high technology to detect them. Hamas’s missiles usually prove ineffective; Israel’s bombs and missiles almost always hit their targets. Quiet Israeli officers lead from the front; loud Hamas leaders flee to the rear. Incompetency wins sympathy; expertise, disdain. …

Democracy and free markets bring Westerners liberty, human rights, and prosperity — but many Westerners scorn these things in Israel, siding with those who deny human rights, ruin their economy, and practice a brutal prejudice against women, gays, and non-Muslims. In Gaza, a gay reporter, a female reporter with bare arms, a reporter with a small crucifix around his neck, the rare journalist who, surrounded by screaming Hamas supporters, dares to broadcast the truth from Gaza — all these in private would admit to being in fear while they are in Gaza in a way they are not when in Israel.

More Muslims were killed in two days in Syria than in the entire Hamas/Gaza War. More than 700 people were killed in Syria over last Thursday and Friday in some of the bloodiest days in that conflict to date. Assad is taking advantage of a media environment in which most everything else is ignored to concentrate on Gaza. That’s what civilian casualties look like in a real war. In Gaza, residents are warned when the IDF is going to demolish a tunnel, they get leaflets telling them what parts of Gaza are perfectly safe. The IDF is not only not interested in killing civilians, they try desperately to avoid it, for they are only interested in destroying tunnels and missile bases. Hamas sends civilians to the sites that are going to be attacked to act as human shields, and if they are killed, Israel can be blamed.

According to Twitter and Google, an NBC journalist reported they had personally witnessed an Israeli drone attack and fire on a he main hospital in Gaza. The report was shortly completely scrubbed. Israelis say they have confirmed that the Gazan hospital was hit by rockets fired in Gaza by Hamas, not by Israel or an Israeli drone. I understand that Gaza has only the one major hospital, the one where Hamas  has it’s leadership’s bunker buried underneath the hospital. One hundred rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza.

Israel was celebrated by the left when it was represented by socialist kibbutzim, with happy workers tilling the fields. When it fought a war against the Arabs of the Middle East and won, they quit being celebrated. I have a hunch, which may be wrong, that the left is deeply influenced by words like “refugee camps,” “poverty,” “blockade,” ” border fence,”  and conversely odd ideas about the Jews controlling governments or industries.  Oddly, this time around, Israel is supported by Egypt and Jordan, and even the Fatah Palestinian faction that runs the West Bank want Hamas to become weaker.

The picture above is of a pleasant Syrian neighborhood.



Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel, and Kill All Israelis by The Elephant's Child

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“While Gaza is ‘Mired in Poverty,’ Hamas has built at least 36 tunnels at $1 million each.” That was the headline in the Washington Post.

While the Gaza Strip remains mired in poverty — the 2011 per capita income was $1,165 — Hamas is thought to have sunk more than $1 million into the excavation and maintenance of every tunnel. “Much to the misfortune of the people of Gaza, Hamas has invested far more resources in ‘underground Gaza’ than in ‘upper Gaza,’” wrote al-Monitor’s Shlomi Eldar. “The ‘change and reform’ that Hamas offered its voters was invested in its tunnels at the expense of the people of Gaza.”

The tunnel network, and the IDF has so far discovered 36 though there are undoubtedly more,  was intended not just for kidnapping, but for a grand assault on the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. The plan entailed a surprise attack in which 200 Hamas fighters would be dispatched through dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel , to seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.

Excavation of the concrete-lined tunnels which are elaborate, with arteries, veins and offshoots in intricate and elaborate arrangement has meant the seizure of  tons of Hamas supplies and weapons, as well as plans for attacks. The tunnels  were apparently constructed with the work of Palestinian children, (to get into small spaces?) at least 160 Palestinian children are known to have died in tunnel construction.

Egypt’s army said that they have destroyed 13 more tunnels running between the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. Hamas uses the Gaza tunnels to smuggle arms, food and money into the Palestinian enclave. Hamas talks often of “the blockade” but all that is blockaded are arms, weapons and tunnel-making supplies. Food, medicine and ordinary goods are checked for the presence of weapons and sent freely into Gaza. Hamas is an affiliate of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and they have made many attacks on Egypt.

Con Coughlin reports in the Telegraph that Hamas terrorists are attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to continue their offensive against Israel.

Israel left Gaza entirely in 2005. Settlers were forced to move. The Gaza territory could have been a thriving seaside resort, they have long beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Israel left a vast array of greenhouses that could have been a source of jobs for Palestinians, food, and income. Instead they destroyed the greenhouses.

Evelyn Gordon noted at the Commentary website that this sentence from a Haaretz news report “that Palestinians have been taught to measure their national self-worth by the amount of pain, or even mere disruption, they can inflict on Jews,” explains why Israel and Hamas go to war every few years.

Here is a translation of the main points of “The Covenant of The Hamas.” It’s important to understand who they are.

European newspapers are full of stories about all the protests against Israel going on across Europe. But one notices that the articles never mention who is protesting, the simply call them protesters. Accompanying pictures make it pretty clear that they are Moslem immigrants, unassimilated.

Now just to escalate the situation a little further — “Freedom Flotilla II” is set to sail for Gaza from Turkey. Same deal at 2010’s ‘Mavi Marmara’ scheduled to take off with Turkish military protection. The ostensible excuse is to bring “humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled coastal sector. It’s being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) the same organization that was behind the previous flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. “

” Israeli Navy Commandos boarded the ship, were attacked, and killed nine of the attackers.  So far there has been only  a declaration of intent.” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has long been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel’s blockade of shipments to Gaza is only to prevent military weapons and  tunnel construction material from reaching Gaza. Humanitarian aid gets through just fine.

Hamas hides rockets in schools, hospitals, and in private homes. When the IDF is sure where the missiles are coming from, they call the residents and warn them, send leaflets, and do everything possible to avoid injury to civilian Palestinians. Hamas demands that civilians stay in targeted locations as human shields for their weapons.



Why Yes, We Knew — We Just Didn’t Do Anything About It! by The Elephant's Child

Weren’t we told by the administration that they were blindsided by the rapid advance by ISIS last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city fell to this new jihadi army that seemed to come out of nowhere? They not only captured Mosul, but five divisions of the Iraqi army fell and we heard of mass executions, beheadings, crucifixions, and terrified residents fled before the onslaught as the long column headed towards Baghdad.

The administration, according to the record was not surprised at all. Congressional testimony as far back as November made it cleat that the United States had been closely tracking the black-clad jihadis, a ruthless al Qaeda spinoff. Intelligence officials had been closely tracking the group since 2012.

According to McClatchy, Obama administration officials were quite aware of the group’s intention to send men and material back into Iraq and turn loose waves of suicide bombers, which they knew that Iraqi security forces could not handle. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee in February that the campaign had the stated objective of carving out a Caliphate in the western regions of Iraq and Syria.

So — if the Obama administration had all that advance warning why are they still trying to figure out what steps, if any, they should take to stop their advance? With all the pictures of the long ISIS column strung out on the road to Baghdad, it looked like a pretty vulnerable target, but I’ve probably read too many thrillers.

They’ve seized all sorts of Iraqi military equipment, drained banks of their assets, seized oil and natural gas fields, military outposts. Nearly every day we hear about another town that has fallen or another outrage they have committed.

What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.

Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.

Chairman Royce said Iraqi officials and diplomats at our embassy began urging drone strikes as early as August last year against Islamic State bases near the Syrian border.

This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.

“This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy,” said Nasr. “It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”

The article from the Merced Sun Star is long and, frankly, depressing. Dithering, indecision, Obama believes one of his greatest accomplishments is ending the war in Iraq, he can’t undo that. Drawing red lines in Syria, misunderstanding the Middle East. Obama came to office believing that the key to the problems of the Middle East was Israeli intransigence. If he could broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, then the problems of the Middle East would end. That’s why Kerry has been over there wearing out his welcome, pushing absurd agreements. Obama seems to have learned about the Middle East from his friend Rashid Khalidi, the firebrand Palestinian professor.

Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller has a column in Britain’s Telegraph today, suggesting that “Barack Obama has already checked out of his job,” in which he suggests that Obama is “no longer even worried about keeping up appearances, he doesn’t care enough to fake it.”

The United States has apparently not yet delivered the helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq has already purchased. The administration has also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, though 300 were dispatched after Mosul fell. Obama doesn’t seem to get along with Maliki. George W. Bush had weekly video conferences with him.

Gaza’s charter says they will eliminate Israel and take over the land. That’s fairly clear and straightforward. The Islamic State says they have established a new Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and then…? Putin is still busily working to take over the Ukraine, al Qaeda is threatening a cyber attack on the United States. We have thousands of children, (mostly between the ages of 14 and 17) who are being recruited by MS-17.  Obama says he wants to send them back home, but he is settling them in all over the country, and schools will be expected to take the kids. The border is wide open because Border Patrol people have been called away to deal with the ‘unaccompanied children’, and security officials are worried. More businesses are moving their corporate offices overseas to escape taxes, and Obama can’t think of anything to do but punish them. Cutting taxes is not in his vocabulary.

What’s the old saying? Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.



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.



Jihad in Britain, and In The Other Nations of the West by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know if you know Janet Daley. She was born in America, graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and has been living and reporting in Britain for many years. Her column in today’s Telegraph is notable for her outlook on the Islamization of Britain. Elsewhere there is a column noting that France is not a safe place for Jews. We have been warned that without some serious and real change, Europe will be entirely Muslim within fifty years.

In the midst of the deeply unfunny news coverage of the two young British jihadi volunteers who were arrested on terror charges when they arrived back from Syria, there was one moment of comic absurdity. It seems that before setting off on their mission, Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar found it necessary to place orders with Amazon for those invaluable scholarly treatises, Islam for Dummies, The Koran for Dummies and Arabic for Dummies. Hilarity aside, there is something important to be noted here.

First, these 22-year-olds were obviously not the products of some extreme mosque which had drilled them in Islamist fundamentalism. In fact, they were so untutored in the religion to which they were nominally affiliated that they had to equip themselves with a crash course in its basic principles. Nor had they come from families which were inclined to endorse their terrorist fantasies. Indeed, their own parents were so horrified when they learned of the men’s activities that they turned them in to the police. So we need to ask, as a matter of urgency, where it came from, this bizarre determination to be inducted into a campaign of seditious murder that (we can assume from their decision to plead guilty to the terror charges) they fully intended to bring home with them. What causes young men to risk their own lives, and those of who knows how many others, for a cause about which they know so little that they have to mug it up before they catch the plane?

Do read the whole thing. There’s a lot of food for thought there that includes our own present border crisis.  Assimilation matters. She adds:

Contrary to all the educational shibboleths of our time, young men are motivated by aggression and power: their dreams are of glorious triumph over rivals. If they are denied these things – even in the ritualised forms that used to be provided by an education system that understood how dangerous male adolescence was – then they will seek them wherever they can be found. Gang violence, with its criminal initiation rites, or Muslim fanaticism can fill a void, offering not just a licence for brutality but for banding together into hostile tribes. There was a time – before characteristically male behaviour was devalued in favour of the female virtues of empathy and conciliation – when these proclivities were dealt with quite effectively by combative team sports and military cadet corps. Institutionalised aggression was supervised by adult authority until the young men grew up and became responsible for their own impulses.



You Should Probably Worry, Or At Least Pay Attention! by The Elephant's Child

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ISIS has now renamed itself as the Islamic State. They claim to have established a Caliphate stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria, but their ambitions are far greater. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, pictured above, has renamed himself Caliph Ibrahim, though the viciousness of their advance is more reminiscent of Saddam Hussein. Nine other jihadist groups have declared the “Islamic State” and the “Caliphate” null and void, legally and logically and everybody else better condemn them too.

The movement of ISIS across Iraq has been ferocious, determined and vicious. In only a month they have swarmed from obscurity to being perhaps the most well-funded terrorist group on earth. Some of the officers from Saddam’s army have reportedly joined them.  Nobody seems to know how many there are in the ISIS army, but some estimates at the beginning were only about 800 people.

They have captured much of the equipment with which the U.S. enforced the Iraqi army, so they have Humvees, MRAPS , rocket launchers, helicopters and I don’t know what else. Some suggest that they won’t know how to operate or maintain the equipment, but they’ve cleaned out the banks in Mosul and any other town they pass through, and get funding from some wealthy Sunnis who are glad to fund jihadist movements. They are estimated now to have over a billion in finances, so they can probably hire a teacher or two, and if the officers of Saddam’s army have joined up they may have more capability than our state department is assuming.

According to the AP, “Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.” (What? I thought there were no WMD in Iraq?) “Terrorist groups entered the Muthanna site June 11 ans seized weapons and equipment from the protection force guarding the facility.” Secretary Ban Ki-moon “singled out the capture of bunkers 13 and 41 in the sprawling complex, which according to a 2004 U.N. report also contained the toxic agent sodium cyanide, which is a precursor for the chemical warfare agent tabun, and artillery shells contaminated with mustard gas.” Maybe it’s time to start worrying, or at least paying attention.

Why did the Obama Administration ignore all those warnings about ISIS?  Eli Lake describes all the warnings. Team Obama was told over and over, that the Iraqi army could not stop a terror group that was ready to pounce.  It’s a long, sad tale. It probably has the most to do with Obama’s dogmatic positions. Once he makes up his mind, it set in concrete, and Iraq was the “bad war” that he promised to get out of.  Speaking to the foreign press, Ben Rhodes, the White House Deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communication said,”In terms of additional u.S.military action, President Obama again made clear that while he has not ordered any military action, he reserves the right to do so as necessary.”

Obama’s best advisors on Iraq have been saying such military action has been necessary now for months, but Obama is busy with fundraising and golf.

ISIS has begun systematically destroying artifacts and antiquities found in Iraqi museums because they are “against Islam.” They issued a city charter in Mosul and declared that “false idols” would have to be destroyed. For this strain of Sunni Muslim jihadists, representations of the human form or any shrine that might lend  itself to idolatry, or any place of worship dedicated to the Shiia faith must be obliterated. If you remember the Taliban blew up the world’s two largest standing Buddhas—one of them 165 feet high . They had been preserved for 1,700 years.  ISIS has expressed an intent to destroy the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site. More than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca every year, and the Kaaba is the direction of Muslim prayer.
That wouldn’t seem to be a good PR move, but I am not a Muslim.

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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.

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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 Nation Grieves. by The Elephant's Child

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Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped over two weeks ago, and murdered by Hamas thugs. One can hardly imagine the grief of a nation. In a remarkably tasteless remark, President Obama urged Israel not to “destabilize the situation,” he warned Israel—not Palestine. Blame the families and friends of murdered kids, but not the murderers. He claimed that “Israelis have the full support and friendship of the United States.” I doubt that many Israelis believe that one.

The sixteen year olds are Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel who is also an American citizen. Our hearts go out to their families, and the Israeli people.

It is President Obama’s radical Mideast policies that have destabilized the entire Middle East. The president’s 2009 Cairo University speech helped to open the door to revolution and upheaval. He came to office with the illusion that all the problems in the Middle East were caused by the “problems between Israel and Palestine.” Obama believed that he could bring the Israelis and the Palestinians to the bargaining table and make a lasting peace agreement between them, and there would be peace in the Middle East, and he would be celebrated as the peacemaker or something like that.

The only flaw in the ointment was that Palestinians had not the slightest interest in peace, and wanted the Israelis all dead and no country of Israel to exist. The Palestinians fire rockets into Israel regularly, kidnap citizens, as they did these three teenagers. They bring up their children to hate Israel, toddlers are given mock suicide vests. The mothers of jihadists who blow themselves up in an effort to kill Israelis celebrate their dead sons as martyrs in a righteous cause.

In 2011, Obama declared out-of-the-blue that Israel should be shrunk back to its indefensible 1967 borders, and warned Israel “the status quo is unsustainable.” He declared “the international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome”, and claimed “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” This is sheer  ignorance of both the history of the Middle East and the history of the state of Israel.

The U.S led “peace framework” talks broke down earlier this year. The idea seemed to be that Israel would offer all sorts of concessions to the Palestinian Authority, and then the U.S would dangle releasing convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard before Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hope that he would fold.

The State of Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. They are the only country that shares our ideas of free markets and free people. The other guys are talking about blowing up Israel, driving Israel into the sea, preparing to attack the United States, declaring a new Caliphate, and trying to smuggle more weapons into Gaza so they can kill more Israelis. One would think our president and our State Department would notice the difference.



Stop Making Speeches, Mr. President, And Tend to Business! by The Elephant's Child

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Seems like everything is heating up. There are all these enormous problems that are just coming to our attention,  a lapdog media who ignore the problems, and there’s our natural reluctance to stop playing and pay attention. They are collectively going to get a lot worse before they get better, if they do.

— Obama has appointed a man who seems qualified to attempt to fix the problems at the Veterans Administration Health network. Robert McDonald is a former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, so large organizations are nothing new to him. He is a West Point graduate, and served in the military for the required 5 years post graduation. The limited military experience is unusual for the post which is usually filled by a former general or at least a colonel.

The big problems at the VA are 1. unionized employees, 2. a culture that plans to go home around 4:00 and schedules no operations after 2:00 pm and 3. has no way to measure efficiency except by wait-time for appointments. The bigest problem is that it is a big-government 340,000 employee  bureaucracy, which may preclude its ever becoming an efficient health care program.

ISIS , the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, has erupted out of the Syrian crisis and swarmed its way across Iraq, executing and beheading opponents, crucifying members of the opposition, or throwing them alive off cliffs. This is the new Middle East caliphate, a religious and political successor to the prophet Mohammed and sovereign over all Muslims. They have stripped banks, captured military equipment and stockpiles, and captured oil fields. The current al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri once said a new caliphate would signal a turning of world history “against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.”

A bunch of fanatic thugs, perhaps, but a well-funded and equipped bunch intent on creating an Islamic state as a launching pad for attacking the U.S. homeland, according to a new congressional report. Four analysts at the Congressional Research Service made that assessment relying on intelligence reports and the words of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, (ISIL). Wealthy Sunni sheiks in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have funneled money to the group to help it bring down the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Alawite , an offshoot of Shia Islam. They already have many hundreds of jihadists with Western nation passports. The Russians have sent military advisors to Iraq. This is a crisis of Obama’s own making, and he’s not really prepared to deal with it.

“President Obama’s recently announced energy and environment policies have been tried in many countries with the same result: abject failure. Yet when critics point this out, explaining that “the U.S. economy will lose millions of jobs and billions of dollars in growth,” Obama simply waves their objections away. Every European economy that has followed the same green agenda has faltered badly. In 2013, Germany built six more coal plants. China and India build four new ones every week, yet Obama can’t wait to shut down the coal industry. He remains deeply concerned about global warming.

Canada gave up on getting approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Obama, and is building the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to send their oil to Asia. Major job loss for the U.S. and a major economic loss for the country. Another. Now, inconveniently, scientists and studies are predicting global cooling ahead — Russia’s Pulkova Observatory: ‘We could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years.’  A new solar theory predicts imminent global cooling. The reason is the dramatic fall in solar radiation that started around 2004.  If the temperature on Earth is entirely controlled by solar effects, the cooling will return us to the temperature levels of the 1950s or even the 1920s, undoing the warming of the last 50 or 100 years in nothing flat. A sharp cooling effect is apt to hit in the next five years. There has been no warming at all in the last 17 years. We will need more power to keep us warm, and it’s a remarkably poor time to start shutting down coal plants for no reason. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and has been much higher in the past, and seems to have little, if any, effect on the climate.

And then there is the crisis on the border. The Obama administration planned ahead for the subsequent flood of illegal children, older teenagers, gang members, Chinese and who knows who else. Homeland Security requested contractors as “escort services” for 65,000 unaccompanied children in January. The government cannot find enough places to put them, seems to have no real intention of returning them. Apparently children who have come across the border can effectively remain in the U.S. for years before they face a risk for deportation. In the meantime the federal government will take care of them?

Obama wants amnesty, and blames the whole surge on Republicans for not “reforming broken immigration laws” that Obama refuses to enforce because he wants amnesty and a flood of Hispanic immigrants. He stubbornly intends to get his way with executive orders.The problems are a direct result of his failure to enforce the borders, forbid the Border Patrol from preventing the influx, and he essentially told the Border Patrol and ICE that they may not do their jobs. This is not going to end well.



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:



Oh Yes, There Were WMD Found in Iraq! They Lied. by The Elephant's Child

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I just explained about the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) found in Iraq during the Iraq War. Douglas Hanson explained that the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) did only a cursory search, neglected information directly under their noses and gave a phony report. The Media chose to emphasize that no WMD were found. Where did you think Assad got the chemical weapons he used on the people of Syria?

Today we have the news that “Iraq Crisis: ISIS jihadists have  Seized Saddam Hussein’s Chemical Weapons Stockpile,”reported by the Telegraph in Britain and by the Wall Street Journal (paywall). In their advance to encircle Baghdad, ISIS has been stripping the banks in the cities they have taken. Estimates of how much cash they have captured range up to a billion, but it seems to be a lot. Officials don’t believe that the ‘militants’ will be able to create a functional weapon from the material. I imagine you can buy quite a few scientists and engineers with their new-found wealth.

U.S. officials don’t believe the Sunni militants will be able to create a functional chemical weapon from the material. The weapons stockpiled at the Al Muthanna complex are old, contaminated and hard to move, officials said.

Nonetheless, the capture of the chemical-weapon stockpile by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS or ISIL, the militant group that is seizing territory in the country, has grabbed the attention of the U.S.

Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman who has a graduate degree in empty speech, said “We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL. We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials.” John Kerry is “concerned,” Hillary is “concerned.” I’d even bet that Obama is “concerned.”

The Muthanna complex is near Lake Tharthar, roughly 45 miles northwest of Baghdad, an area now firmly in control of the Sunni rebels. ISIS has taken control of most of Anbar province as well as Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.



All Options Are On The Table, Except They’re Not. by The Elephant's Child

A speech by Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said they would help the U.S. confront “terrorist groups” in Iraq and Syria — referring principally to ISIS. According to President Rouhani:

If the Iraqi government asks us for help, we may provide any assistance the Iraqi nation would like us to provide in the fight against terrorism.

All countries need to embark on joint effort regarding terrorism.

At the moment, it’s the government of Iraq and the people of Iraq that are fighting terrorism.

We have not seen the US do anything for now. Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that.

It has been reported that Iran has already sent two battalions of troops into Iraq, but the Iranians deny it. Iraq is not enthusiastic about Iranian troops, they had a very bloody war still in memory. The Ayatollah Sistani has called for the Shiia to volunteer to fight the ISIS, and they are turning out by the thousands.

Can it be that the Iranian leadership is openly calling on the United States to intervene in Iraq?

The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush has been moved into the Persian Gulf to provide President Obama with “options?”

We have over 5,000 staff in our embassy in Iraq. Some are reportedly moving out and being replaced by members of the military — who do not count as “boots on the ground” but as just shuffling people around.

The situation? Muddled and confusing.




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