American Elephants


The Obama Administration Violated the Law By Releasing Gitmo Detainees in Exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. by The Elephant's Child

From Powerline:

The Government Accounting Office has concluded that the Obama Defense Department violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it transferred five detainee at Guantanamo Bay to Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits the Defense Department from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Gitmo unless the Secretary of Defense provides such notification.

The GAO also found that by using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act, as well.

These five individuals were considered to be the equivalent of “Top Brass” for the Taliban, and were transferred to Qatar, a government that is a major supporter of terrorist groups. It is a major backer of Hamas.

The prisoner transfer was part of the deal in which the Taliban released Bowe Bergdahl in another example of Obama’s disregard for the law, and common sense.

Obama has been intent on trying to empty Guantanamo Bay of any detainees, apparently under the assumption that the world hated us because we had detainees at Gitmo. Early detainees were pictured shackled, in orange jumpsuits behind a guarded fence, which naturally convinced the Left that the poor innocent detainees were being tortured by the hated George W. Bush. The detainees were better treated that their military guards, and most gained about 20 lbs. on generous halal food, which can certainly be called torture in a weight-conscious world.



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



Sorry! Your Politician Does Not Care About You. by The Elephant's Child

The exit polling from the 2012 election showed clearly that people voted for Barack Obama because they believed that “He cares about people like me.” This was closely related to Hurricane Sandy, and I believe the picture of President Obama comforting Donna Vanzant who had just seen her marina totally destroyed, influenced a lot of people. Mr. Obama promised her prompt help from FEMA and that he would make it all better. But she never heard from FEMA, nor from the President, or anybody else.
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The picture, however, went viral.

I hate to bring you bad news, but politicians do not care about you. The better ones care about “the people” in general, but generous donors in particular. They care about the big businesses in their districts, influential people in their party and in the opposition, but we ordinary folk are, at best, merely a statistic. They care about those who are important for some reason, particularly those who have given campaign contributions or are clearly in a position to make a donation, or are important enough to influence others.

Maybe, if you are an activist who seems to have a large number of voters behind you. I know, I know. We’d all like to believe that those in whom we invest so much hope really mean it. You could design an embossed letterhead suggesting that you are an officer in an organization for (or against) your politician’s favorite issues, that might get some attention. Phone calls, at least allow you to talk to a human, however lowly. Visit his/her office in your district with your request or complaint, but sugar catches more flies than vinegar.

It’s nothing personal. They have their big donors and all the members of their delegation, the press (local and national) the members of the committees on which they serve, their opposition, and all the members of the House or the Senate as the case may be to worry about. They don’t know you from Adam, expecting attention is futile. The idea that “I voted for you” and now I expect, at the least, a response to my email, is also futile. Going to every town hall meeting held in your district might improve the situation slightly, but don’t bet on it. They shake a lot of hands, and remember few.

But, your opinions may be tabulated (or not). They need feedback, but there’s no guarantee they will pay attention. But if  you are well-informed and your call or email or letter is short and to the point, it may get through. Even volunteering in their campaign may not help. Your chances are better if your expectations are low, and your determination is very high.



What Is The Impulse To Go Join A Riot? by The Elephant's Child
August 20, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Law, News, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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I understand why journalists flock to a town like Ferguson, Missouri. There’s a famous old saying “If it bleeds it leads,” and even more if there is the possibility of interesting interviews and especially good photographs or videos. But why do ordinary people flock to a riot?

Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan reported from Ferguson that seventy-eight protesters were arrested during last night’s clash between the police and the protesters. Only three of those arrested were actually from the town of Ferguson. A lot came from the state of Missouri, but some came from as far away as New York and California. There were some concerns that rioters were using the demonstrations as a cover to launch attacks against police.

I understand the people who are there, those who feel personally harmed demonstrating and the demonstration turning to riot. Unfortunate, but it happens.

I don’t get it. What is the impulse that sends someone from some distance away to go and join in a riot? Is it the possibility of looting?  The possibility of attacking the police? It is surely obvious that you can get hurt at a riot, at best. Do they just think it will be fun?

Al Jazeera reports that the Islamic State has recruited 6,000 people in the last month, and the recruitment push is gathering pace. They claim the number of fighters is now over 80,000 in Iraq and Syria (totally unverified numbers). Let’s all go kill infidels. Behead infidels, execute those who have different beliefs. Is this the same impulse? Drawn to danger and chaos?

Is it a matter of getting all emotional, all fired-up, indignant over what you have heard? When we had the WTO riots here in Seattle, lots of broken windows, trash cans set on fire, and groups of anarchists appeared from somewhere else to join in the fun. People uninvolved in the Occupy movement rushed to join in the fun at their various riots.

I would understand defending your home or your community from an outside threat, but I don’t get rushing to join a riot, or even a demonstration in which you have no personal involvement. People also rush to go see a catastrophe. Stop on the highway to see the accident (when it’s clear they don’t need help, but just want to see).

We should be instructing our children when they are young, never to go to a riot. Riots are not always peaceful, and sometimes people get killed.



Cease-Fires Don’t Work When One Side Won’t Cease! by The Elephant's Child

From Friday’s Wall Street Journal :

JERUSALEM—White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

Funny. This is the customary way that Israel secured supplies of ammunition through a military to military purchase that required no approval from White House officials.

If people in Pennsylvania were shooting rockets at the White House many times a day leaving everyone to run for shelter immediately, would the administration be so eagerly pressing for a “cease-fire” that everyone knew those crazies in Pennsylvania would not observe? And if they were digging attack tunnels designed to come up in the Rose Garden, or down by Michelle’s veggie garden?

The U.S. government classifies Hamas as “a terrorist organization.” Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry just don’t seem to understand terrorism. “No victor-no vanquished.” let’s have another cease-fire. Hamas’ charter clearly says they intend to destroy Israel and all its people. Israel has the backing of Egypt, and Jordan and even the West Bank for attempting to stop the rocket attacks. Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry just don’t seem to get it. But I repeat myself.

There are cease-fires, and Hamas breaks them. They fire rockets from their storehouses in UN schools, and the administration is shocked by the pretend numbers of casualties claimed by Hamas, and assumes them to be real.  President Obama   doesn’t like disagreement, and has proved to be somewhat vindictive.

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained the situation with Hamas quite clearly, in language easily understandable:

The difference between us is simple.
We develop defensive systems in order
to protect our civilians, and they
use their civilians to protect their missiles.



How Do We Do a “No Confidence” Vote? by The Elephant's Child

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down on Thursday, and announced that he would not seek a third term. The administration considers this a diplomatic coup for the administration, which has worked behind the scenes in Baghdad for months to find a successor who could begin uniting Iraq’s ethnic and religious factions.

Ah, yes. “No victor, no vanquished” We mentioned that strategy. Now we will have a “more inclusive government.” A “negotiated settlement.” And who will bring the new Caliph to the table, and how many will get beheaded in the process?

The U.S. now faces the equally, if not more, difficult challenge of confronting the growing threat from Islamic State militants and promoting a functioning government in Baghdad. The increase in U.S. assistance isn’t expected to result in a major expansion of military operations in Iraq, though there could be selected increases.

Iraq’s parliament on Monday nominated Haider al-Abadi, another Shiite politician from Mr. Maliki’s al Dawa party, to be the next prime minister. He has 30 days to form a government.

U.S. officials said they are hopeful Mr. Abadi can do more to heal ties between Baghdad and Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish communities, which were badly strained during Mr. Maliki’s eight-year rule.

The military, and we have no idea how many of our people are there, are trying to make plans, but they have no authority nor intent to do much more than Obama’s very limited order. The Kurds are getting mortars and small arms. Drones destroyed 2 Islamic State armed vehicles. Experts on Iraq say any increased engagement by the U.S. will require a major makeover of the Iraqi military. Yes, images of ISIS herding long lines of captured soldiers into a ditch where they were then executed probably does have an effect on morale.

Inside the liberal bubble, everyone is really ready to go to the negotiating table.



Can Obama Escape the Bubble? Probably Not! by The Elephant's Child

I have, in odd moments, been pondering Obama’s statement of his foreign policy— “no victor–no vanquished.” Where did he get the idea that was a workable or satisfactory policy? He clearly was proud of the alliteration. Conservatives were confused  by the statement.

But then I recalled the leftist movement to stop the practice of having winners in games, as part of the”self-esteem movement.” There should be no winners and losers they said— everybody gets a trophy, everybody gets a medal. Prizes were for participation. Wrecked all kinds of contests and games, and most of the fun. Not much satisfaction in competition when even the worst performers get the same medal.

That was, of course, mostly in elementary school, and given time, the self-esteem movement fell into disrepute when people realized that our kids had the greatest self-esteem in the world, but we were being beaten all hollow in things like math and science, reading and history. But it didn’t go away for everyone. The Left accepted it as a given, and decided that competition was a bad thing.

On the Right, Ted Forstman once remarked in the Wall Street Journal that “There has never been an industry, a business, or a product that competition has not improved.” For most Republicans, a completely unremarkable statement. Of course. Most of our economic ideas are based on just that idea. But Mr. Obama clearly does not get it. “No Victor, No Vanquished.” Everybody gets a prize. No winner, no loser. Nobody has to feel bad. Well, here is Ralph Peters:

Wars are to be won. They are not playing fields for theorists. Enemies are to be destroyed, not merely admonished. And the best chance to destroy a military enemy is to pursue him relentlessly and ferociously when his organization begins to come apart. From Varus’s Roman legions in the marshes of Germany through Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow to the destruction of, first entire Soviet armies, then entire German ones on World War II’s Eastern Front, down to the Highway of Death leading north from Kuwait City, mighty armies—or those perceived as such—have been destroyed utterly when their fronts collapsed and they struggled to save themselves by fleeing. This is a killing hour and we must rise to it.

And Victor Davis Hanson:

It is an iron law of war that overwhelming military superiority, coupled with promises to the defeated of resurrection, defeats terrorists—in the past, now, always—whether they be zealots, dervishes, or Ghost dancers. We do not really care whether bin Laden and his thugs are real Islamic fundamentalists, old-time Mahdists, or Christian nuts in drag. Nor does it ultimately matter much whether they plan to poison water, hijack airplanes, spread germs, or throw spitballs at us—only whether we have the military power and will to kill them first, destroy their enclaves, strip away their money and refuges, and demonstrate to their followers that death and misery are the final and only wages of a terrorist’s life.

The Left lives in an impermeable bubble. Leftist thought is contained within the bubble. They can shoot moral arrows at everyone else to demonstrate their moral superiority. Within the bubble they can reinvent history to make it more agreeable to present circumstances, whatever they may be. Unpleasant matters do not penetrate, or at least can be repelled.

The current situation in Iraq has required significant adjustment. Iraq was the “dumb war.” Obama believed the public was “war weary” because the media told him so, so he was impatient to get out and had little interest in a “status of forces” agreement, nor in how such agreements came about. It was a trophy in his trophy display. (Consistency is not required)

So when ISIS swept out into Iraq, nobody in the White House paid any attention, because Iraq was a done deal. When executions and beheadings penetrated the news, it was presumed that getting rid of the troublesome Maliki and forcing a more “inclusive” government would make everybody feel good and a “negotiated settlement” would prevail. But then Islamic State terrorists slaughtered 900 Yazidis in Erbil in an act of genocide. Obama had to act, and he danced around it trying to make sure that everyone understood that our military intervention was not really a military intervention and there were no boots on the ground, and we weren’t going to do boots on the ground.

Bubbles are artificial constructions that don’t stand up in the real world.



A World in Chaos, and Secretary Kerry’s Biggest Challenge is Climate Change? by The Elephant's Child

American concern over President Obama’s national security advisers grows. He seems increasingly unable to understand the risks from the Islamic State, and his advisers seem increasingly inept.

Yesterday, as threats to the United States multiply, Secretary of State John Kerry remains fixated on — global warming. On Wednesday at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Secretary Kerry repeated his claim that climate change is “the biggest challenge…we face right now.”

ISIS has established a terrorist state across northern Iraq and Syria, Israel is under siege by terrorists, Ebola is spreading in Africa and threatens to arrive on our shores, our southern order is wide open to terrorists, criminals and diseases by presidential order, China is engaging in a massive military buildup and working on shooting down our satellites. Russia is attacking Ukraine and threatening its other smaller neighbors, and our biggest worry is climate change? Unbelievable.

It’s hard to know what Mr. Obama’s relations with his advisers is, are they so in awe of him that they do not question any of his ideas? Some sources say that Obama only meets with his very closest associates. It’s been reported that he doesn’t attend foreign policy briefings, and that he doesn’t like meetings. The big problem is that there seems to be genocide going on in Iraq, and Obama is fully engaged on the golf course.

ISIS, or the Islamic State, is increasingly intent on attacking the United States. They have proclaimed they want their flag flying over the White House. We should probably take them seriously. A lot of military people are alarmed, as are those who are deeply familiar with the Middle East.

Mr. Kerry recently warned African leaders to stop creating new farms and focus on what they already have. “Certain agricultural processes can actually release carbon pollution,” he explained to the Africans who were hoping for help in feeding their starving people.

.



“They’re Coming” and “Another 9/11 is Imminent” by The Elephant's Child

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An editorial from the Washington Post last Friday was headlined “Obama’s authorization of Iraq airstrikes isn’t connected to a coherent strategy.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA was right to order military action to prevent a potential genocide in northern Iraq and to stop forces of the al-Qaeda-derived Islamic State from advancing on Baghdad or the Kurdish capital of Irbil. However, the steps the president authorized on Thursday amount to more of his administration’s half-measures, narrowly tailored to this week’s emergency and unconnected to any coherent strategy to address the conflagration spreading across the Middle East. …

Yet by the White House’s own account, the measures ordered by Mr. Obama are not intended to defeat the Islamic State or even to stop its bloody advances in most of the region. Instead they are limited to protecting two cities where U.S. personnel are stationed and one mass of refugees. The hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere threatened by the al-Qaeda forces will receive no U.S. protection.

That’s the Washington Post’s Editorial Board, not usually leading the charge in criticism of the president.

President Obama is trapped in his self-created bubble. He was elected, he believes, to end the war in Iraq, and sees doing so as possibly his greatest achievement. He regarded getting out as the goal, rather than a gradual turnover as Iraq became more able to deal with problems on their own. Even now, he doesn’t understand that there is a genocide in progress, that is endowed with billions stolen from all the banks in Iraq, the world’s best and most modern weapons which which we outfitted the Iraqis, and gullible jihadis are flocking from all over the world to join up in the bloodletting.

Europe assumed that it was a good idea to replace their declining birthrate by admitting immigrants, for they had seen how immigration enriched America. But they didn’t get the assimilation part. They got a lot of Islamist immigrants, but they didn’t turn them into real citizens. It looks like over 900 French nationals have answered to call to jihad in Iraq, and volunteers in significant numbers are coming from Britain and most European countries. Even young women are flocking to become ‘jihadi wives,’ unaware they will end up as sex-slaves and either dead or in the brothels of the Middle East.

I cannot imagine what visions of “the Caliphate” attract them— the opportunity to kill with abandon, long trains of battle-hardened jihadis bristling with guns and tanks, flying the black flag of the Islamic State? Is it an ideal of suddenly being powerful? Too many romantic movies?

We see the primitive blood-lust, the sheer barbarianism and fail to take it seriously at our peril. The Middle East is more unstable today than it has been in years. Global energy supplies are at risk and with that, the entire world economy. The Islamic State seizes vast swaths of land and resources, murders and terrorizes whole nations and recruits thousands of new fighters with Western passports and plots another attack on the United States. Its much more comfortable to blame the failures of your own society on the west than to fault your own backward society.

Ali Khedery is an expert on the Middle East, CEO of the Dubai-based Dragoman Partners, and previously worked the U.S. State and Defense departments, and served as an American official in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, special assistant to five U.S. ambassadors and senior advisor to three commanders of U.S. Central Command.

When he says “They’re coming” and “another 9/11 is imminent” we need to pay attention. He wrote a letter to President Obama in Politico on Tuesday, attempting to warn the president that he needs new advisors, and a “Middle East Czar.” “Someone who can help contain and quell separate conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq before they merge into a full-fledged regional war.” This is not the J.V. team, but the most virulent form of transnational jihad the planet has ever seen. Here he is, being interviewed by Jake Tapper.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saving the World With Platitudes, One At a Time. by The Elephant's Child

On August 8, Friday, The New York Times published an interview with the president by Thomas Friedman, titled a bit grandiosely “Obama on the World.” Mr. Friedman is a long-time admirer of Mr. Obama, so it is a gentle interview that allows the president to fully express his successes (many) and failures (very few). It’s hard to know just what to make of it.

Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.

At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.

America, he believes, is dysfunctional, and societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. Oh please. Just explain yourself in straightforward prose — all of Obama’s problems derive from the nasty Republicans who won’t do what he says. Can he possibly believe that a clever new phrase will allay centuries-old enmity that has had Muslim tribes killing each other ever since the sixth century?

Scott Johnson, over at Powerline, apparently had the same misgivings. He said: “I asked the person who is perhaps the most worldly-wise man I know if he could comment on Obama’s interview with Obama apostle Tom Friedman as related …in the Times article “Obama on the World.” His acquaintance responded that he had wondered about this viewpoint.

He said both James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. separately and in other contexts said something about “ignorance allied with power” being the worst imaginable combination. I  just read a piece by Angelo Codevilla, which began with a similar quotation: “Combining the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.” Thus did Theodore Roosevelt define statesmanship at its worst. This is what America’s bipartisan ruling class is giving us.

Scott Johnson’s unidentified worldly-wise man continued:

I think with Obama it starts with ignorance which in his formative years became a required doctrine of the intelligentsia when it came to understanding the way the world works in matters of international security; to be considered politically correct you had to spurn and despise such painfully developed concepts and practices as the balance of power, the necessity of using strength and diplomacy in tandem, etc.

This was allied with a personal drive for High Moralism, the felt need to build a castle around yourself behind a moat of 12-foot thick walls from behind which you could shoot moral arrows at everyone else to demonstrate your superiority and quickly destroy any emerging criticism of yourself. So from this position of invincible ignorance allied with moral perfection and then allied with power, you could become able to cross a line in history to reach a new world shaped by your conviction of your perfected sensibility.

This would mean, 1.) taking the US out of its despicable role of world leadership, which has been immoral and has caused almost all the world’s problems over at least the past century, and 2.) “Transforming” America into a country moral enough to be worthy of you, a kind of big Belgium. As the wicked of the world have refused to fall into line behind this vision, it has made the president increasingly sour and feeling put upon.

At this point he has been forced to do something like take a presidential decision of the kind that all previous presidents have known they would have to take– the “hard decisions” recognized by the president’s hero Reinhold Niebuhr but never recognized by the president. So he has been forced by events to do it. But he didn’t want to do it. And he keeps making it clear that he is determined not to do it in an effective way, to assure our enemies of the many things he will never do, and to sulk about it for the foreseeable future as he relates his unappreciated fate to those who share his feelings, like Tom Friedman.

This makes sense to me. We on the right side of the political spectrum spend way too much time trying to understand the left — how they think, what they understand and what they don’t understand — because they just don’t seem to make sense. That is correct. They do not make sense. The philosophizing and moralizing that are such an animating factor and seem so formidable in the hot house of the faculty lounge — don’t work well out in the real world.

They are not operating in the real world. They don’t do their homework. “High moralism” just doesn’t cut it. It’s all very nice to come up with a new phrase — “no victor, no vanquished”— or you just have to compromise, and if  you don’t, we’ll wash our hands of you. This is not exactly a viable foreign policy.

Obama told Mr. Friedman that the “extremist ideology” that’s taken over the GOP, the “balkanization of the media has blocked my agenda.” What agenda is that? Can’t everybody just get along — is not an agenda. It’s not even an idea, but simply a platitude.

Tom Friedman apparently spent the weekend mulling things over. This morning he said we are absolutely clueless in the Middle East. That’s about right.



Obama: Leaving Iraq? “As If This Was My Decision!” by The Elephant's Child

Just before he left on vacation on Saturday, President Obama spoke briefly about the  situation in Iraq. One reporter asked the president if he had any “second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S. — is doing the same thing in Afghanistan?”

The President:

What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.  Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government.  In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system.

And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances.  And on that basis, we left. We had offered to leave additional troops.  So when you hear people say, do you regret, Mr. President, not leaving more troops, that presupposes that I would have overridden this sovereign government that we had turned the keys back over to and said, you know what, you’re democratic, you’re sovereign, except if I decide that it’s good for you to keep 10,000 or 15,000 or 25,000 Marines in your country, you don’t have a choice — which would have kind of run contrary to the entire argument we were making about turning over the country back to Iraqis, an argument not just made by me, but made by the previous administration.

So let’s just be clear:  The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis were — a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.

ObamaPromiseIraq

Direct from the White House website. From the White House press office:

“After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011,” he said. “So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”

Yesterday, the president said in the state dining room:

I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.

And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.

The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

As if that’s going to happen. There can be no reconciliation with ISIS, and there cannot be peace or reconciliation until ISIS is defeated. How that is to be accomplished is unknown. Stronger Iraqi security forces are needed, but what is Obama going to do to bring that about?  Apparently not much.

Dexter Filkins explained in The New Yorker how Obama failed to secure the status of forces agreement. When Obama announced the withdrawal, he portrayed it as the culmination of his own strategy.

Must be hard — keeping track of which way the political winds are blowing. Does he really not think we can look up what he said the last time? Or does he just believe it doesn’t matter?

Max Boot explores the problem a little more deeply in the Weekly Standard, September 19, 2011.

If it’s good, the president will take credit, if it’s bad, it’s not his fault.  Simple.




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