American Elephants


Did You Ever Wonder What Is Meant By “Getting All Your Ducks In a Row?” by The Elephant's Child

It’s simple. Lots of training, and the voice of authority.



Because Of Obama Policies, the World Is On Fire, And He’s Sending Pink-Slips to the Firemen! by The Elephant's Child

Sunday morning data points from the Drudge Report and elsewhere:

That superficial report would seem to indicate something of the state of the world. But not   everyone is concerned. Obama’s off at Camp David for a birthday bash with friends.  And also reported is that the Army is going to tell 550 Army majors will be out of the service by next spring as “part of a budget-driven downsizing of the service.” That follows 1.000 captains pink-slipped, 48 of them while they were serving in Iran.

Those of flag rank were discharged earlier.

Wasn’t Mr. Obama just urging some of the ‘children’ crossing the border to serve in the military so they can become citizens?  Is it written somewhere that cutting the budget has to come out of military readiness? How about cutting back on the full-entourage family trips to Africa? Or some of the excess numbers of Czars? I can think of whole departments that should go.

An independent panel appointed by the Pentagon and Congress has warned in their report just issued that “President Obama’s strategy for sizing the armed services is too weak for today’s global threats.” The shrinking U.S. armed forces, the report acknowledged, is a “serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States,” “Inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment.”

“Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve,” the report said. “Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating.”

The panel knocks Mr. Obama’s QDR for reducing the military’s global mission from being able to defeat two enemies nearly simultaneously to defeating one and denying the objectives of a second. The report calls on Mr. Obama to expand this overriding mission statement.



Meanwhile, Back at The Russian Yearning For Empire: by The Elephant's Child

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From Bill Gertz at the Free Beacon:

Moscow violated a key strategic nuclear arms accord by developing a ground-launched cruise missile banned under the 1987 agreement, according to the State Department.

“The United States has determined that the Russian federation is in violation of its obligations under the [Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces] Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” the annual arms compliance report made public Tuesday states.

The INF treaty breach, which had been kept secret by the Obama administration since 2010, is a setback for President Barack Obama’s arm-control-focused national security policies. (emphasis added)

Obama finally got around to acknowledging that Mr. Putin’s Russia  has violated the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by President Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. He sent Vladimir an angry letter. As reported by the New York Times it was written with presidential outrage, and Obama “expressed his desire for a high-level dialogue with Moscow with the aim of preserving the 1987 treaty and discussing steps the Kremlin might take to come back into compliance.”

Uh huh. I’m sure Russia is just itching to get back into compliance. Vladimir Putin also dropped by Cuba to renew the old relationship. Mr Putin wants to rebuild the old Soviet empire. He has said so. He has also said that the collapse of the Soviet empire was the greatest catastrophe in the world. Why do we always assume that when people tell us their aims, they are lying and we know better?

The Castros remain paranoid, and power-hungry as ever. They run a good business  making the island available to criminal states like Iran and North Korea. A spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet announced in August of 2013 that the Russian guided missile warship Moskva, the flagship, would visit Cuba and other ports in Central and South America. In February the Russian Defense Minister announced that Russia had engaged in talks to establish military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Does Putin really want to do the Cold War all over again?

The Obama administration clings to sanctions as the way to conflict resolution. The fundamental flaw in that way of thinking is that Putin cannot retreat, for retreating poses a real threat to his own power position at hone. After the invasion of Crimea, he has been talking up the return to empire and Russian greatness. Putin believes the West to be weak and irresolute.

The U.S. and the EU made good on their threats of dramatic sanctions on Russia. They targeted the energy, arms and finance sectors. The EU only blocked future arms business with Russia, not past deals. Obama said mildly “the issue is how do we prevent bloodshed in eastern Ukraine?” At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden quoted the Financial Times:

One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine.  “There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?”

At the American Interest, Andrew A. Michta points our that the West is treating the fighting in eastern Ukraine as a specific crisis, rather than what it is:  part of Putin’s larger strategy.

None of the actions taken by the United States and Europe thus far would cost Putin more than he is willing to pay. Worse, the West’s foot-dragging and disunity only confirm Putin in his judgment that he remains in control, while also deepening his disdain for the West. Even if the West were to get its wish and Putin were to agree today to a ceasefire and negotiations, he would retain both de facto control of eastern Ukraine and the option to recommence hostilities at will. He would, in effect, get the West to do part of his work for him.

What Putin wants is fairly clear. What he will actually do about it is not. The adventurism in Cuba and South America is probably intended to distract us with events in our backyard, and the alliances make Russia seem more important? They’re a little short on friendly alliances.



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.



The Official Foreign Policy of the Obama Admistration by The Elephant's Child

This is actually a clip from the British comedy series “Yes, Minister,” but it seems so precisely applicable, and funny, that I couldn’t resist. The comedy that captures accurately the foibles of humanity is always the best, though we like the comedy of the other guy’s foibles better than when our own are exposed.



Southern England Holds Billions of Barrels of Shale Oil by The Elephant's Child

Shale rock underneath some of the wealthiest counties in the south of England may contain billions of barrels of oil, a government report said. The Weald basin covers counties south of London, including Surrey and Sussex, may have oil in quantities as large as 8.6 billion barrels, according to a British Geological Survey report published on the 23rd. It was also noted that the potential for shale gas may be limited.

Britain is required by law to shut down their elderly gas-fired power plants. Dependence on alternative sources like wind has not turned out to be as dependable as advocates assumed. They have been reduced to importing wood pellets from U.S. North Carolina forests.

The Bowland basin, which extends across east and northwest England may hold as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas. That would be enough to meet demand for almost half a century if they had extraction rates similar to US. fields. The U.K. government has offered tax breaks to drillers to stimulate the infant industry.

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The European Union is determined to shift away from dependence on Russian gas imports, according to a draft European Commission document on energy security. Producing oil and gas from shale could partially compensate for declining conventional production. There will be the usual protests about high volumes of water, sand and chemicals to drill shale, and whether it can damage the environment. Probably more protests than we have experienced. Big steps forward always being out the Luddites.

The European Union has enough gas trapped in shale to free the bloc from reliance on Russian energy supplies for about 28 years if the member countries are prepared to extract it. Russia has been fairly clear that they are prepared to use their vast supplies of gas as blackmail.

According to Reuters, Russia is the world’s top oil producer, but is pumping near capacity. It needs advanced technologies to sustain their output. They want a boom in unconventional oi; output by the start of the next decade. They are targeting a new shale oil boom by the next decade.

It would be very good news indeed if Britain and the EU are self-sufficient in energy, and cannot be blackmailed by Russia, who is inclined to do just that.



Russia Will Ban U.S. From Using the International Space Station! by The Elephant's Child

article-2227338-15D4A236000005DC-550_634x465Russia will now ban the US from using the Space Station over our Ukraine sanctions. If the Obama administration is going to deny export licenses for some high-technology items, a blow to Russian industry, well two can play that game. They will also bar its rocket engines from launching U.S. military satellites, as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

The two countries have long cooperated closely on space exploration in spite of clashes on foreign policy. The space station is manned by both Russian and American crews, but now the only way to get there is by using Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. The U.S. now pays Russia $70 million per seat to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station.

Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin pointed out that Russia could use the station without the United States. “The Russian segment can exist independently from the American one. The U.S. one cannot.”

And they will suspend the operation of 11 GPS sites on Russian territory from June, and will seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the U.S. for Russia’s own navigation system Glonass. So there.

We will see how this all turns out. I would suggest, however, that Vladimir Putin is more accustomed to playing hardball.




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