American Elephants


Reminder: Iran is Not On Our Side, Not Now, Not Ever. by The Elephant's Child

Iranian_Supreme_Leader_Ayatollah_Ali_Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the “new world order is emerging” and that “Iran will have a strong role in creating it,” according to a Farsi language transcript of Khamenei’s remarks late last week to the country’s Assembly of Experts.

Iran will lead this “new world order” that will replace American influence as capitalism and Western influence collapses, according to Khamenei, who underwent surprise prostate surgery on Monday.

“Iran will have a strong role in creating the new world order,” Khamenei said, explaining that Tehran will expand its already growing influence in Latin America and even Asia.

We have important potential outside Iran, we have supporters, we have strategic depth, in the region, some because of Islam, some because of language, some because of Shia religion, they are our strategic depth, these are all our strengths, we should use them all.”

And it is not only in the region, outside the region, in Latin America we have strategic depth, in some important parts of Asia we have strategic depth, we have the tools to use these opportunities and we have to use these opportunities, using them makes the country strong.

A sign of the West’s waning power came when “the Zionist regime of Israel” supposedly “lost the battle against the small population of the Muslims in Gaza” according to a separate recounting of Khamenei’s remarks published by the state-run Fars News Agency.

The recent war in Gaza was an example of miracle; a small region with limited capabilities accomplished a task that brought the Zionist regime, as the symbol of the West’s power, to its knees” he was quoted as saying. “The current world order cannot continue and a new order is emerging.”

Back in the real world, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group. “A nuclear Iran would be a thousand times greater threat to the world than ISIS, he told guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence. He also cautioned the U.S. against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade ISIS. He praised the American president for leading a coalition to defeat the terror group, but warned that Iran must not be a partner in this effort.

Now I know there is still some absurd talk in certain quarters about Iran being a partner in solving problems in the Middle East,” Dermer said. “They are not a partner, they were not a partner, they never will be a partner. Iran as a nuclear power is a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS.”



When It’s a Hard Question, Whose Advice Matters? by The Elephant's Child

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Michael Ramirez, as usual, gets it right. To whom do you listen? Who do you trust? Who is the best qualified? When do you change your mind and why?

(h/t:Investors)



Dancing Around the Subject of Boots on the Ground by The Elephant's Child

bootsWhite House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained carefully today that “I think the way that I would describe it is that everybody did — that everybody was surprised to see the rapid advance that ISIS as ale to make from Syria across the Iraqi border and to be able to take over large swaths of territory in Iraq — did come as a surprise.”

Jonathan Karl, ABC News reporter questioned, during the White House Press Briefing, Obama’s comments during his CBS 60 Minutes interview that the intelligence community had “underestimated” the strength of ISIS in Syria.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama said.

Karl brought up the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who warned back in February that ISIS  “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”

Josh Earnest responded that the president was simply referring to Clapper’s comments and had “complete confidence” in the intelligence community.

Clapper became director of national intelligence to “Obamacize” America’s intelligence operations according to Investors. He replaced Admiral Dennis Blair who was described by former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) as being “cut off at every turn” by a White House intent on treating terrorism as a law-enforcement problem. Hence all the “workplace violence” claims, and refusal to say the word ‘terrorism’ or ‘war.’ Investor continued:

You could also see it all in the venom that accompanied Obama’s laying the blame on former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not producing “a government that had built a sense of national unity.”

New Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, says Obama, “so far at least has sent all the right signals.” And so “it goes back to” that “we can’t do this for them” — the familiar Democrat rationale for pulling troops out prematurely from Iraq. These countries that have never known representative government must “think about what political accommodation means, think about what tolerance means,” according to Obama.

Richard Epstein said that Obama does not change his mind. If he once believes something, it is set in concrete, and he believes it today. The preceding comments suggest that Obama expects far more change to come from Iraqi Prime Ministers  than he is willing to consider for himself.  This is the leader of the free world trying to explain to the cameras why a country infested with terrorists didn’t follow the program devised for them by a political party in this country wrote to win an election.

Everyone is noticing that when Obama takes credit it is all “I” and “my success.” When it doesn’t go well, somebody else gets the blame — that’s all “they and “you,” or even the passive “We.” Obama himself is never, never at fault.

The air strikes are apparently all taking place at night on previously noted targets. ISIS is moving in among the general population to make themselves safe from American attack — exactly as we were told they would respond.  So we have some advisers on the ground, apparently bootless, but no troops. So this is a war that is not a war, but merely an advisory role with a coalition of Arab states who are going along with our air strikes with their planes, or not. It is not exactly clear who is doing what.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal is titled “The Obama-Military Divide,” with the subhead “what should senior officers do if experience tells them that the president’s plan to defeat ISIS is unworkable without U.S. Combat troops?”  It is abundantly clear that the president has little understanding of things military and how the military works. He remains stuck on hating Bush for the Iraq War, and believing that ending the War in Iraq was what got him elected. I believe he’s wrong on all counts.



Attacking ISIS In An Environmentally Sound Way, With Weapons Obama Scrapped. by The Elephant's Child

To protect the environment, coalition forces will attack only small capacity mobile petroleum refineries but not fixed oil fields, in order to minimize the potential for environmental damage. (escaping carbon) It’s a precaution, they say. I gather that a mobile petroleum refinery is a modular make-shift refiner capable of being set up elsewhere, but I freely admit I know nothing about that. They are used to process oil from the Syrian fields into diesel fuel which is then smuggled across the border into Turkey. which gets them up to $2 million a day to support their efforts.

From a strategic perspective, the decision to leave ISIS oil fields intact makes little sense. On the other hand it’s not smart to repeat the damage in 1991 when Saddam Hussein set Kuwaiti oil fields on fire. The government says they are attempting not to destroy a potential future for post-Assad Syria.

In another odd note, the president is launching attacks on the Islamic State with two weapons that he targeted for elimination years before their usefulness ended or when replacements were ready. He slashed the budgets and weapons systems that he opposed, yet suddenly at the start of a long and sustained campaign to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group, he’s finding the military quite useful.

The first strikes on Monday included 47 Tomahawk missiles fired from two guided missile warships, part of the George H.W. Bush carrier battle group. The Tomahawk was slated by Obama to be phased out though there is no timely replacement. The Navy last year had plans to buy 980 more Tomahawks ans the primary cruise missile used throughout the fleet.   Obama has already fired off almost half of next year’s planned purchases.

The Syrian campaign was expected to be tougher going than the effort in Libya where there was no serious air defense weaponry to worry about. The Air Force chose to use the F-22 Raptor for the first time in combat because its ability to evade radar detection and high-speed maneuverability make it ideal for high-risk environments. Obama called it a “Cold War ” weapon and slated it for the scrap heap.

Someone noted the other day that Obama went to great lengths to avoid saying the word ‘war.’ He’s called it an ‘effort,’ a ‘process,’ a ‘fight,’ a ‘campaign’,and ‘a moment of American leadership.’ That’s a pretty impressive list of avoidance vocabulary.

It’s nice to believe firmly that peace is good, and that with expert diplomacy we can avoid these nasty little wars. Trouble is we don’t have expert diplomacy. We have John Kerry, and previously the reset button Hillary Clinton, and a couple of unserious young women as  spokespersons for the State Department.



Struggling to Understand This President. by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama
Another day, another attempt to figure out who our president is. Today, it’s Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. Peter Baker had a long piece in the New York Times, on the 13th, with some excerpts from a series of off-the-record dinners while he was weighing action in Iraq. And another from Walter Russell Mead on the 14th in The American Interest. All are interesting and worth your time. Peggy Noonan’s piece destined for the Friday paper already has 260 comments, many rude, some not.

Americans have a long history of disagreeing with their presidents, loving them, hating them, believing the end of the world is nigh, and wanting desperately to make them stop doing what they are doing. Does it all mean anything?

I read somewhere today that the majority of Americans cannot name the three branches of government. Are we all terminally stupid and need smarter people at the helm to manage us and our affairs? The conclusion I reach is that people are puzzled by Barack Obama and do not understand why he is doing what he is doing,

“I was not here in the run-up to Iraq in 2003,” he told a group of visitors who met with him in the White House before his televised speech to the nation, according to several people who were in the meeting. “It would have been fascinating to see the momentum and how it builds.”

In his own way, Mr. Obama said, he had seen something similar, a virtual fever rising in Washington, pressuring him to send the armed forces after the Sunni radicals who had swept through Iraq and beheaded American journalists. He had told his staff, he said, not to evaluate their own policy based on external momentum. He would not rush to war. He would be deliberate.

“But I’m aware I pay a political price for that,” he said.

That’s from Peter Baker. Well, yes. It’s clear that he intends to be deliberate, probably for a long time. He also intends to control everything himself. He is ignoring any and all advice from his military advisors and generals with long experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will approve every strike of our Air Force in Syria personally. Is this back to “I’m probably a better general than my generals,” kind of thing—like when he said he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters? Certainly there is a degree of hubris there.

There are levels of knowledge that we usually don’t acknowledge. We credit academic degrees, and summa’s and magna’s, and titles and positions but that doesn’t really get down to the nitty-gritty of what a person really knows. We all know of academics with grand degrees who are so narrow and ideological that they’re essentially dumb as posts.

What about those generals whose advice the president does not want? They probably attended one of our nation’s military academies, which are some of the best schools in the country. Today’s officers usually get advanced degrees while they are serving, and the military has its own intensive schools like the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. They may be sent to language school and they learn how to apply all the training they get in practice by leading troops, and by making mistakes and learning from that. And many lead troops in combat and learn the lonely role of command, and victory and loss. And some will be very good generals whose depth of knowledge resulted in wisdom, and some will never reach that point. But there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice, which doesn’t mean that they are always right — just that there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice — and it pays to listen.

I think that pretty much explains the problem, without further explication. In his first term Obama surrounded himself with some strong advisers. Having won a second term, he feels more confident and has chosen sycophants who make him more comfortable because they inevitably agree or because they share his outlook, and a sorry bunch it is. The president looks at the world through a narrow political lens, and all is calculated on  the basis of how it will reflect on him.

But what about America?



Critics Complain About Obama’s Leadership. Does Obama Grasp Why? by The Elephant's Child

Obama ArroganttPresident Obama spoke today at MacDill Air Force Base. But he wanted everybody to know that there would be no boots on the ground. He is still talking about is grand coalition, but he doesn’t mention who is actually in it, and he’s not going to have any boots on the ground. Somebody else can do that. But the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

All his generals and advisors have told him that he cannot succeed with ISIS without having boots on the ground. Isis fighters will shelter among civilians, and use those civilians as shields. It is hard to know what he has in mind, it apparently is a personal political decision. Certainly the last of the anti-war left is part of his base and those who are sure that peace is natural state of mankind in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Obama seldom attends his national security briefings, and seems totally unfamiliar with the realms of strategy and intelligence.

Mr. Obama has a bad habit of telling the enemy just what he will and won’t do, leaving nothing to the imagination. There are no plans for the outcome, no contingency plans for the time when the terrorists merge into the civilian population, nor for when the actual fighters fail to take Fallujah or Tikrit. Then what?

We have heard him speak before on situations like this. He is a more qualified field commander than his generals, a better planner than that bunch in the Pentagon. Or it’s all about politics and only politics matters. His constant emphasis that he will have no troops on the ground seems the ultimate in a warped Bush-hatred

I think Obama thought he was riding to election on the basis of giant waves of Bush hatred. Nancy Pelosi said something dumb today about Democrats never having been as rude and nasty to President Bush as Republicans were to President Obama. When Republicans recovered from raucous laughter, and were able to stop giggling, they thought gratefully of Minority Leader Pelosi and DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with runaway mouths and little sense — gifts that keep on giving.

The emphatic “no boots on the ground” came along awkwardly with the other announcement that the president was sending 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola. Many found that announcement preposterous. However, the 3,000 number is  heavy on corpsmen, medics, and the experts who can build field hospitals and erect intensive care units.

The situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is dire. Hospitals are overburdened and there are not enough beds, What health system there is is near collapse. The military command center will be in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region. Personnel from the U.S Public health Service will deploy to the new field hospitals. New isolation units and more than 1,000 beds. More than 2,500 men, women and children have died, and patients are being turned away. People are dying in the streets.

ISIS is to be degraded and disrupted— not defeated, at least not yet. If ever. To put “boots on the ground” Obama would have to admit that he was mistaken, and that he does not do. That would take something over 25,000 boots on the ground. Investors remarked that “Liberals always want to wage war by not admitting war is war.”We’ll see. I’m deeply unimpressed with Obama’s politicized ideology, his complete inability to admit fault of any kind, and his tendency to overrule his best advisers because he knows better.  I’m betting on the White House deputy who said they’d leave this mess for the next administration.



War Talk — Exposed! by The Elephant's Child

The internet is alive with War Talk.  Not, unfortunately, talk about aims and principles, but talk about the use of the word “War.” President Obama did not use the word “war” in his ISIS speech, except to say what the American effort against ISIS is not. “This is not a combat mission—we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq…I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

He did say that the Islamic State “is not ‘Islamist’ and “is certainly not a state.” John Kerry, who theoretically engages in affairs of state, said the war is not a war. “What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation.”

Since Democrats don’t believe in principles, but react to events on a case-by-case basis — they spend a lot of effort in parsing language. Republicans and possibly most Americans react to the event of beheading a couple of American journalists on You Tube with the straightforward principle that ISIS obviously just declared war on us, and they will not get away with that.

Obama believes that he was elected to get us out of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe he was elected because a large percentage of the American electorate believed it would be a very good thing to have the first black president, especially one who was so cool. One thing we have learned in the intervening years is that Barack Obama is never, ever to blame, and he will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being blamed.

The choices, from the very beginning, have all been bad. We sympathize, but that’s part of the deal. Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk saying “The buck stops here.” George W. Bush said ” I’m the decider”— he meant that as president, the messes arrived on his desk and he had to accept the difficulty and the blame if things go wrong. That’s why presidents have a lot of national security advisers, and regularly scheduled  briefings on the situation all over the world. Those two presidents had to make some very big decisions that are still questioned today. But they decided.

The fear of being blamed and the fear of being accused of going to war in Obama’s case has led to delay, and more delay. Mona Charen wrote:

Obama is particularly rigid in his adherence to leftist beliefs, but he is hardly an outlier in the Democratic Party. Democrats tend to believe that the natural state of the world is peace, and that if the U.S. is modest and unthreatening, it will be rewarded with happy allies and docile adversaries. Obama’s conviction that the U.S. should act only in support of allies in very limited circumstances, and seek accommodation with adversaries like Russia and Iran, is widely shared in the Democratic Party.

Even the appearance of ISIS couldn’t shake Obama’s belief that wars are “optional” and that, as he said in 2013, “This war, like all wars, must end.” As if the enemy doesn’t get a vote. Asked in January whether the specter of ISIS didn’t cast doubt on the wisdom of pulling every last U.S. soldier out of Iraq, Obama waved it off by calling them the “JV” team.

Obama’s six years of outreach to the Muslim community have yielded only the most chaos in the region since World War II. Mixed messages are the rule of the day. Joe Biden’s promise to go to the Gates of Hell to punish the beheaders doesn’t go comfortably with the President’s plan to reduce ISIS to a manageable problem, and everybody notices. Our allies and our enemies parse the words from this presidency, and they have pretty uniformly refrained from Obama’s broad coalition, on grounds that strong leadership is just not there.

After a day of riotous humor at the squirming avoidance of the word “war,” the administration will —very carefully — use the word.

You cannot help, however, finding it amusing at how frequently the Democrats bandy about the phrase “War on Women,” which seems to be about battling to get equal pay for women, which has been settled law since 1963. And of course they are up in arms about the Hobby Lobby decision which does not require businesses who have a conscientious objection to providing abortofacients for their employees to do so. Doesn’t prevent anyone from buying them over-the-counter. But if one employer escapes being forced to pay for something repugnant to their religion — it’s WAR?




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