American Elephants


The Strange Ways of Hamas Militants by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker has a brief column demonstrating an amazing run of bad luck. Pictures from Israel show that the same family that was killed in Syria by Bashar Assad, was unfortunately also killed by IDF bombing in Gaza just a few days ago.
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The Hamas Interior Ministry has released guidelines for how activists should describe Palestinian war casualties. Some excerpts translated by Memri read:

Any one killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or  Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add “innocent civilian” or “innocent citizen” in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Begin [your reports of] news or resistance actions with the phrase “In response to the cruel Israeli attack” and conclude with the phrase “This any people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.” Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of “the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction”

Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians.

Hamas has a long track record of using mosques, as well as schools and hospitals for storage of its rockets and weapons. They are quite effective at propaganda, and many seem to buy the idea that Israel is the evil country. The use of language is carefully constructed: “refugee camps,” “occupied territories.” Israel is probably the only country in the world that warns civilians in advance to evacuate an area where a bomb in going to strike a Hamas rocket storage site. Hamas brags of 16.000 rockets ready to strike Israel. As Benjamin Netanyahu said:

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.

“The strong Israeli response is focused on eliminating the rocket-launching sites, military facilities in genera, Hamas militants, and the underground tunnels on the Egyptian border that have been used to smuggle arms.” There are limits to Israeli willingness to live under constant rocket attack. Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease fire. Hamas rejected it.

The current operation is intended to destroy the tunnels from Gaza into Israel, used by Hamas to attack and murder civilians. Finding them all is difficult and destroying them even more so.

The current operation, which is both meant to neutralize the tunnel threat and serve as leverage during the search for a ceasefire formula, should take, from a technical perspective, two weeks, officers said.



Nevermind the Fire, That Truck Might Be Emitting CO2! by The Elephant's Child

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The president has asked Congress for an additional $3.7 billion to “comprehensively address this urgent humanitarian situation” at the border. The request includes $615 million for emergency wildfire suppression activities operations starting in 2015.

Fire season is upon us, and there are fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington state, but perhaps, the Wall Street Journal says, the Obama administration could start by getting its own agencies off the firefighters’ backs. The Defense Department has had a fit of environmental consciousness which is disrupting disaster efforts in peak wildfire season.

The Pentagon decided to suspend the program that supplies federal equipment to states for fighting wildfires. DOD suspended the program because the equipment did not meet the latest federal emissions standards. Emissions? in the case of wildfires? Emitting, spewing CO² by the ton and they are worried the EPA will come after them for tailpipes that aren’t up to date? Forest fires are major air-polluting events. You can see and smell the smoke for miles and miles.

There are two programs, the Federal Excess Personal Property Program and the Firefighter Property Program that each year loan local firefighting units more than $150 million of equipment that the federal government no longer needs. Involved are trucks, pumps, generators, engine parts and are a lifeline for small all-volunteer fire departments that can’t afford $500,000 for a new tanker. The vast majority of the wildfires that local units fight are on public lands.

The DOD suspended the transfer of trucks and generators, many of which were made for the military with diesel engines that don’t meet the EPA’s latest emissions standards. The Defense Logistics Agency realized they weren’t abiding by a decades-old agreement with the EPA to abide by the standards of the Clean Air Act. So naturally they just suspended the program.

Well, enormous outcry, forests burning, the DOD decided the EPA grants a “national-security” exception to the standards rules for transferred military equipment. The agencies have decided the  program restart should come with —new regulations— including the requirement that local firefighters track and return every piece of equipment so the feds can destroy them.

Good grief. Don’t let a diesel truck emit any carbon while fighting a thousand-acre forest fire. Priorities. The Bureaucrat is required to follow the rules of the bureaucracy, and not ask annoying questions. When it gets this bad, you know the government is too big to function.



The Limits to Tolerance: by The Elephant's Child

Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a line that he used in the prepared statement he read at his Friday news conference on Fox News Sunday this morning. It warrants repetition. Israel and Hamas conduct in the current hostilities can be explained:

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

Here’s a brief cell phone video of “Summer Vacation In Israel” It conveys a sense of what it is like to live under constant threat of rocket attack, with only seconds to get to shelter.

 



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?



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.



Poor Care at VA Hospitals Cost 1,000 Veterans Their Lives by The Elephant's Child

Veterans Medical Care

The problems at Veterans Affairs extended far beyond long wait lists. A report today showed the department is plagued with poor care that has cost up to 1.000 veterans their lives, and left American taxpayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in malpractice settlements since 2003.

Senator Tom Coburn reports that “the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined.” Dozens of veterans have died while stuck on secret waiting lists at a VA facility in Phoenix. An inspector general’s investigation has found widespread misuse of secret wait lists in a number of facilities.

Senator Coburn’s report, titled “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA,” argues that problems go back well beyond the Phoenix scandal and run far deeper than phony wait lists and scheduling practices designed to demonstrate that managers were meeting their performance goals. His report details dreadful cases.

A Philadelphia vet went in for a tooth extraction. Doctors went ahead despite his dangerously low blood pressure. On the way home from the operation, he had a stroke and was paralyzed. A vet in South Carolina had to wait nine months for a colonoscopy. By the time he had the procedure, he was diagnosed with stage three  cancer. The VA admitted  that had he been treated earlier his case might not have been so severe. Another veteran had annual chest X-rays, but doctors never spotted a growing lesion in his lung. It ultimately killed him.

Some legislators recommended more financing, as usual, but the problem can be traced back to bad management and lax working standards, not to lack of money. In one finding, Coburn said, VA doctors average about half the workload that private-practice primary care physicians do.  He added:

Female patients received unnecessary pelvic and breast exams from a sex offender.  The VA is way behind on processing disability claims and constructing facilities. Some VA health care providers have lost their medical licenses, but the VA hid that information from patients. The federal government has paid out $845 million for VA medical malpractice settlements since 2001.

A security chief, Richard Meltz, head of security at the Bedford VA Medical Center pleaded guilty in January in involvement in what the FBI called “two sadistic kidnapping, rape and murder conspiracies.” He also advised two others on how to avoid being tracked, such as not using toll roads, and where to dump bodies.

The FBI says it has opened a criminal investigation of the Veterans Affairs Department. The Bureau’s Phoenix office has joined an ongoing review by the VA inspector General.

Somme of the reasons for the chronic problems include a bonus system that rewarded managers for meeting goals regarding access to treatment. The audit findings, covering 731 VA facilities nationwide and based on interviews with more than 3,700 staff members, said a 14-day goal instituted by the Obama administration, for providing care to newly enrolled veterans proved “simply not attainable” due to growing demand and lack of capacity. “Imposing this expectation the field before ascertaining the resources required represent an organizational leadership failure.

The audit portrayed 57,436 newly enrolled veterans facing a minimum 90-day wait for medical care, 63,869 veterans who enrolled over the past decade requesting an appointment that never happened. A patient who had been admitted for “significant and chronic mental health issues” lived in the 106 bed facility for eight years before he received his first psychiatric evaluation.

Well meaning bureaucrats had no other way to measure the effectiveness of VA Hospital care—than wait times, so they gave them 14 days maximum wait time for a veteran to be seen by a medical professional. That’s the way it works in large government bureaucracies.



The Left Lies to Sway Public Opinion — Here’s Proof! by The Elephant's Child

Memory is just so — fallible. Politicians particularly have trouble remembering today what they actually said yesterday or the day before. They have not yet totally absorbed the advances in technology that have preserved their words actually coming directly out of their mouths. So inconvenient!

Hardly a day goes by when there is not some lefty on the radio referring to Bush’s illegal War in Iraq, or claiming Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to get us into Iraq to get Iraq’s oil. Halliburton! One would think that by now they would have noticed that we never got any of Iraq’s oil. The deal was making it the possession of the Iraqi people instead of funneling the income into Saddam’s bank account.

In 2001 and 2002, Democrats were still reeling, as we all were, from the attack on the World Trade Center. Most of us, innocently,  had never dreamed of such a devastating attack on our own country. Pearl Harbor was 60 years previously, few were old enough to remember. We invaded Iraq in March of 2003. By April 10, Baghdad had fallen; by September 3, the first post-Saddam  government had been established, and by December 13, Saddam Hussein had been captured in his hole.

If you remember, Bill Clinton was complaining because he didn’t have a war to fight to enhance his legacy. The left was beginning to notice that the George W. Bush they hated so, was emerging as decisive, reassuring, in command, and they began to get restive.

The website American Thinker, took on Douglas Hanson as their National Security correspondent. Douglas Hanson was a US Army cavalry reconnaissance officer for 20 years, and  a Gulf War I combat veteran. He had a background in radiation biology and physiology, and was an Atomic Demolitions Munitions (ADM) Security Officer, and a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Officer. As a civilian analyst, he had worked on stability and support operations in Bosnia, and helped develop a multi-service medical treatment manual for nuclear and radiological casualties. He was initially an operations officer in the operations/intelligence cell of the Requirements Coordination Office of the CPA, and was later assigned to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

In the summer of 2003, he was serving as Chief of Staff in the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), an organization formerly called the Ministry of Atomic Energy. They had a small staff of Americans and Iraqis, part of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad. One of their key tasks was to transition some 8000 Iraqi scientists and engineers from military and state enterprises to civilian jobs. That gave Hanson a unique vantage point on the activities of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG), headed by Dr. David Kay and charged with finding WMD.

Hanson explained that Dr. Kay pronounced there are no large stockpiles of WMD. His searches were haphazard and uncoordinated. In his October 2003 report, the ISG had not even searched 120 of the 130 known ammo storage points, much less any underground sites. Previous intelligence assessments, were developed by intelligence analysts who had been working on Iraq’s WMD and knowledgeable UNSCOM personnel who had conducted UN searches for WMD. When Dr. Kay arrived, he shifted focus from the list of known sites to interrogating scientists, a necessary effort, but a shotgun approach. ISG was swamped by the amount of corroborating data which should have been used to test the validity of scientists’ stories. Stories which could well be incriminating.

Dr. Kay concluded  Iraq’s key scientists had ended up working directly for Saddam in development of WMD programs and they had fooled him into believing in non-existent weapons. That always sounded fishy. Hanson’s experience indicated just the opposite. The ISG did not have the resources, security of suspected sites, or the preparation to cope with the task. Charles Duelfer, head of the ISG,  testified that “the picture is much more complicated than I anticipated going in.” The ISG was composed of personnel from CIS, State Department, and Defense Intelligence Agency—the same organizations that were getting raked over the coals for bureaucratic bungling of intelligence prior to 9/11.

Many have confused the term WMD as referring only to nukes, but it includes Chemical and Biological weapons as well. Proclamations about ‘stockpiles’ were confusing. One nuclear bomb is not a stockpile, but could wipe out an American city. Stockpiles of biological weapons can be kept in a scientist’s refrigerator at home. The ISG proved that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions. Iraq was involved in manufacturing the biotoxin Ricin ‘right up to the end.” Saddam’s nuclear program was restarted, and development of BW ‘seed’ agents, such as botulinum, could be used to regenerate stockpiles of BW agents once UN sanctions were lifted.

UNSCOM inspectors understood these factors when they concluded in 1995 that, at the time of Operation Desert Storm in January of 1991, Iraq had largely solved key technical issues. The problem of precursor storage and stabilization for VX, a powerful and persistent nerve agent was solved by Saddam’s scientists. In addition, UNSCOM noted the development of prototypes for binary sarin (non-persistent nerve agent) artillery shells and 122mm rockets. Binary rounds consist of two non-lethal substances that combine upon detonation to form a lethal agent.

Pesticides are the key elements in the chemical agent arena. The general pesticide chemical formula (organophosphate) is the ‘grandfather’ of modern day nerve agents. They are also the precursors of other chemical weapons including Mustard-Lewisite, Phosgene – a choking agent, and Hydrogen Cyanide -  a blood agent. As Coalition forces attacked into Iraq, huge warehouses and caches of “commercial and agricultural” chemicals were seized and painstakingly tested by Army and Marine chemical specialists. The ISG quickly refuted the findings of these specialists, and have been silent on the significance of the caches. They simply called them “agricultural commodities.” But why did they secure drums of pesticide in camouflaged bunkers six feet underground?

I have borrowed Douglas Hanson’s words to describe and abbreviate three of his columns. A report by the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) said Coalition forces had recovered several hundred munitions containing nerve agents. Hanson added:

The left and their allies in the press are apparently too dense to understand the significance of the Coalition previously finding biological agent seed cultures, several hundred tons of purified nuclear material, and tons of chemical weapon (CW) precursors.  But this entire controversy has never been about the weapons themselves, the age of the munitions, or the media promoted fantasy of pallets of chemical rounds ready to be loaded into Iraqi artillery pieces.

The left and the media could trumpet the WMD stockpile image to bend and shape public opinion. This is what Obama has used as an excuse and as guidelines for the past 6 years. Does Obama even know that all the claims of “No WMD”and “A War for Oil” were as phony as the war to save the planet from the perils of global warming?

Douglas Hanson’s columns have remained in the archives at American Thinker, just enter his name in the search function there. I linked to three here.  Hanson’s was a sturdy voice of sanity on the Left’s attempt to blacken the name and actions of George W. Bush. You always knew they were lying, didn’t you?



Obama’s Failure To Grasp the Nature of Al Qaeda Is Frightening! by The Elephant's Child

Obama Arrogantt

“President Barack Obama has described al Qaeda as having been “decimated”, “on the path to defeat” or some other variation at least 32 times since the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to White House transcripts.”  That was an article at CNS news on November 1, 2012. He’s probably upped that 32 times considerably since then. Here’s one of the more typical statements:

Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq — and we did. I said we’d wind down the war in Afghanistan — and we are. And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.

Fredrick W. Kagan is one of those people that can be correctly called an “expert.”  He has years  of study and experience behind this testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on “Missing the Target—Why the U.S.Has Not Defeated al Qaeda.”

All conditions are set for a series of significant terrorist attacks against the US and its allies over the next few years. But that’s not the worst news. Conditions are also set for state collapse in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly Jordan. Saudi Arabia, facing a complex succession soon, is likely to acquire nuclear weapons shortly, if it has not already done so. Turkey and Egypt confront major crises. Almost all of Northern and Equatorial Africa is violent, unstable, and facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is likely to empower al Qaeda-aligned jihadists in Crimea and in Russia itself. That eventuality is, of course, less worrisome than the prospect of conventional and partisan war on the European continent, likely threatening NATO allies. The international order and global stability are collapsing in a way we have not seen since the 1930s. There is little prospect of this trend reversing of its own accord, and managing it will require massive efforts by the US and its allies over a generation or more.

This distressing context is essential for considering the al Qaeda threat today. On the one hand, it makes that threat look small. The long-term effects of global chaos and conflict among hundreds of millions of people across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on US security, interests, and way of life are surely greater than any damage al Qaeda is likely to do to us in the immediate future. Yet the two threats feed each other powerfully. Disorder and conflict in the Muslim world breed support for al Qaeda, which is starting to look like the strong horse in Iraq and even in Syria. Al Qaeda groups and their allies, on the other hand, powerfully contribute to the collapse of state structures and the emergence of horrific violence and Hobbesian chaos wherever they operate. They are benefiting greatly from the regional sectarian war they intentionally triggered (the destruction of the Samarra Mosque in 2006 was only the most spectacular of a long series of efforts by al Qaeda in Iraq to goad Iraq’s Shi’a into sectarian conflict, for which some Shi’a militants, to be sure, were already preparing)—and have been continuing to fuel.  Al Qaeda is like a virulent pathogen that opportunistically attacks bodies weakened by internal strife and poor governance, but that further weakens those bodies and infects others that would not otherwise have been susceptible to the disease. The problem of al Qaeda cannot be separated from the other crises of our age, nor can it be quarantined or rendered harmless through targeted therapies that ignore the larger problems.

Kagan goes on to explain that we make a major mistake in defining al Qaeda as a terrorist group from whom the danger is an attack on America. Al Qaeda is a terrorist group, of course, but they define themselves differently. They have devoted most of their resources to “seizing and governing terrain and populations in the Muslim world. They see themselves as a global insurgency that uses terrorism, and its ability to field small irregular armies in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere that demonstrates the seriousness with which it takes that self-conception.”

Thinking of al Qaeda as a narrow threat of a small group of extremists hiding out in  the mountains of villas of Pakistan, and assuming that allied groups all over the Middle East and Africa are just temporary fringe players is a major error.” Al Qaeda supporters are fanatics, willing ( in some cases) to die, but avoid the martyrdom they encourage in their followers.  “Islam has a very strong tradition of seeing divine blessing or curse manifested in this-worldly success of failure.”

The state of weakness and indecision in the administration is truly frightening. “The threat is growing in size and capability while we are dismantling our defenses. Surely we should consider other approaches, and soon.”

Do read the whole thing, This is more important than we can imagine.  As he says—all conditions are set for future attacks.



Remy: God Bless the USA [VA Scandal Edition] by The Elephant's Child

Remy remakes the Lee Greenwood classic for the administrators of today’s Veterans Administration hospitals.

Iraq and the Release of Taliban Leaders from Guantanamo may have pushed the VA Hospital Scandal off the front pages, but nobody has forgotten or forgiven. Americans care about their veterans.



Blackfive Responds to the Kids at Vox: by The Elephant's Child

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An excerpt from Uncle Jimbo* at Blackfive:

No Zack, they actually had destroyed it. They beat it into a bloody tangled mess of dead tangos stacked so high that they blotted out the sun, They killed so many of the local bad guys and the thousands of jihadist visitors that King Leonidas sent a dispatch saying “Dag! Nice work”. So when you say “the US military and allied Sunni militias famously defeated it” I will accept your words, but not the snotty tone with which you meant them.

You see Zack, the Surge worked. We won the war. The Iraqis actually formed a legitimate democratic government. And then we walked away and said “There you go a Republic, if you can keep it”. We took our toys and left. The Bush administration agreed to take all our troops out because that was the only way to get all the Iraqi factions to join in a government. But neither the Iraqis or us expected that to be the final deal. We and they rightfully expected a follow on negotiation about a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) after their elections and some minor legitimacy for the new government.

We needed to stay because they needed our help to actually make the whole thing work. The groundwork was laid, but the new US President Barack Obama completely torpedoed the negotiations and made sure we couldn’t stay and help. So they were on their own with Iran on one side and Syria on the other, both of whom had been huge enablers of the insurgency in the first place. It is hardly surprising that the Iraqis didn’t dominate at the democracy or the security on their own. And all of us who could identify the clue bag pointed out that our departure would yield this exact outcome. 

……………………………………………….*Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson (“Uncle Jimbo”) is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy.



Headlines of the Day: Friday June 13, 2014 by The Elephant's Child

Obama assures nation his political commitment to inaction trumps international securityHot Air

“How Obama SET FREE the merciless terrorist warlord now leading the ISIS horde blazing a trail of destruction through Iraq.” Daily Mail, UK

“We Never Should Have Left Iraq” Slate

“Obama Acknowledges Threat Posed by Fall of Iraq, Promises ‘Intensive Diplomacy.’  PJ Media

“President Obama Wasted American Victory and Lost Iraq: What Now?”
National Review

“Congress’s Iraq Vets Helplessly Watch Their Gains Lost” National Journal

“Iraqi Air Force Evacuating Besieged American Contractors” WND

“ABC’s Jonathan Karl Casts Doubt on Obama’s Supposed Top Foreign -Policy Achievements” National Review

“WH: Iraqi violence won’t alter Afghan drawdown” The Hill

“The Men Who Sealed Iraq’s Disaster With a Handshake:” Wall Street Journal

“ISIS butchers leave ‘roads lined with decapitated police and soldiers:’ Battle for Baghdad looms as thousands answer Iraqi government’s call to arms and jihadists bear down on capitol.” Daily Mail UK

“Meanwhile, Back In Ukraine:” Wall Street Journal



Obama Is Considering Potential Action And Discussing Options. by The Elephant's Child

Just a few days ago, I was reading about the real and highly consequential democratic process of elections in Iraq.  Iraq, said Bartle Bull, is engaged in a “conversation about government formation in a functional, stable and constitutional electoral setting. There is no talk of coups, of disenfranchised minorities, or politicized electoral commissions.” I quoted part of this previously.

The process of forming the next government may take months, and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the front-runner, although his victory is far from certain. Whoever does emerge atop what Disraeli called the “greasy pole”, there is no chance of a government that harbors al-Qaeda or belongs to the mullahs in Tehran, that invades its neighbors, assassinates its enemies, or gasses its own people. All of these things are vote-losers in Iraq, and in Iraqi politics today it is the vote that matters most.

The April election was the seventh time since January 2005 that Iraqis have gone to the polls on a national basis. The land of the purple finger has enjoyed four parliamentary elections, with an average turnout of 63 percent; two nationwide provincial elections, with an average turnout of 52 percent; and a constitutional referendum in which 63 percent of the country turned out to vote (and 79 percent voted “Yes”) on the republic’s inclusive, liberal, federalist constitution.

Every one of these ballots has been judged free and fair by international observers. Even ignoring the local circumstances that make this fact especially remarkable (the constant threat of jihadi violence on polling days, exacerbated by governance so poor that it is a wonder that anyone has enough faith in government to bother to vote at all), Iraqis have once again proven that they are more than deserving of the opportunity presented to them.

Twelve days later, and everything has changed. Well, most everything. ISIS is advancing on Baghdad, the Kurds have taken Kirkuk, and Iraqis are fleeing, trying to find somewhere to get out of the way. President Obama who said recently that his foreign policy can be summed up as “Don’t do dumb s––t !”, is doing just that in resorting to his usual dithering which will undoubtedly be followed by “There’s nothing we could have done,” once it’s too late.

President Maliki has asked for some air support, maybe some drone strikes. We reportedly have some drones doing surveillance. What they need are those A-10 Warthogs that a House panel just voted to scrap.  It’s an old plane, but the troops love it for the close air-support the gunship can deliver. What do I know, I’ve never been in the military, but I’d be inclined to listen to the troops who need it instead of congressmen who benefit from having certain armaments produced in their district. Close air-support is a difficult mission, and the A-10 works because it can go comparatively low and slow. The congressmen who voted to retire it claim the F-16 and the B-1 bomber can do the same mission, but the reverse isn’t true. Five US troops were just killed on Monday in an apparent friendly fire strike in southern Afghanistan. They had reportedly requested close-air support from a B-1 bomber. It’s all about the money. More modern, multi-mission aircraft, new generation of drones….

President Obama is not being well-served by his foreign policy advisers. He’s got Susan Rice,  who tells stories, a former speechwriter, a former campaign hack, Chuck Hagel and Valerie Jarrett. What could possibly go wrong?

The Pentagon, I am told, is always planning for the next war, not the present one. Drones, robots, and other high-tech wonders, while back in the real world we have tribal warfare with pick-ups, stolen Stingers and the American equipment that fleeing Iraqi troops left behind. The American people don’t mind wars when we are clearly winning, when nobody much gets killed, and  last no more than 4 years.  We watch too many movies, read military thrillers where the hero always wins and gets the girl, when we should be reading the books written by men who are reflecting on their time serving in combat.

We will have to wait a while for the definitive history of the War in Iraq. The Media, out to get George W. Bush, gave us a false picture that historians will have to reckon with. The tribal war between the Sunni, Shia and Kurds is hard enough to understand for those of us who are unfamiliar with the Koran, without dealing with Islamic politics, American politics and media misrepresentation. I’ve been re-reading the columns of Douglas Hanson who was American Thinker’s foreign policy person during the Iraq war. Really interesting. I wish President Obama had done that.

President Obama is examining  potential actions with his foreign policy team, and discussing various options. They have asked military and intelligence agencies to draw up options that include limited U.S. military action in Iraq, officials said. “They’re looking at everything and anything and have been told explicitly by the White House to think outside the box of what is possible,” a senior U.S. official said.

The president said he is seeking support from U.S. allies in any effort to keep extremists from gaining a permanent foothold in Iraq or Syria. Don’t want to do anything all on our own, we might be blamed.




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