American Elephants


The President Made a Statement to the Press. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama held one of his rare press conferences today, and even took a few questions. He announced to the world that he has no strategy to deal with ISIS.  Maybe later.

He announced that we aren’t taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. I’m sure Mr. Putin is relieved.

He’s sending Secretary Kerry to Iraq, because they have to develop a more inclusive government. Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy, but we don’t have that either.

He has, however, directed Secretary Hagel and the Joint Chiefs to prepare a range of options.

Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson, showed that our State Department is right up on things. She held up a little handwritten sign with a hashtag. I forget what it said, probably something about being concerned.

Our country is in the very best of hands.

The President’s statement is available here.

psaki1



Obama Can’t Identify the Problem, and Doesn’t Want To Deal With It. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, and on Monday he spoke at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention. To sparse applause, he said the answer for ISIS’s “evolving terrorist threat” is not for America to “occupy countries and end up “feeding extremism.” …

The answer is not to send in large scale military deployments that over stretch our military, and lead for us occupying countries for a long period of time and end up feeding extremism.

Still blaming Bush, after all these years. The White House is struggling to find a message on the Middle East, any message. Marie Harf, State Department spokesperson, refused to acknowledge ISIS’ declaration of war with the United States of America. A reporter said “The reality is ISIS has announced it’s in a war against America,” adding that “Right or wrong that is what they are saying.”

Harf  emphasized the administration’s view that ISIS does not accurately represent the religion of Islam as a whole.

ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.

The Islamic State is fairly clear on who they believe themselves to be. Max Boot, is also clear:

Want to know what happens when the U.S. retreats from a leadership role in the Middle East? This is what happens–Egypt and the United Arab Emirates together collaborate to stage air strikes against Islamist militias in Libya. And meanwhile Qatar, which is at odds with its fellow Persian Gulf sheikhdom, the UAE, has been funneling arms to the very Islamist militias that UAE’s air force is bombing.

American officials quoted by the New York Times are said to be fuming about these attacks, “believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution…. ‘We don’t see this as constructive at all,’ said one senior American official.”

But guess what? When the U.S. has abdicated its leadership role, there is no reason for anyone–not our enemies and not our allies–to listen to what we have to say. In the case of Libya, the American failure to do more, in cooperation with our allies, to build up central government authority has brought us to a point where this country is fast becoming a failed state consigned to perpetual civil war.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson offered the usual mush:

Libya’s challenges are political, and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. And that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.

You see the problem. Obama believed from the first that American interference  was the cause of all the problems in the Middle East, and if we would just lend our expertise to “peaceful resolutions” then he would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that he was so prematurely awarded.

Well, Hillary took a magical “reset button” to Russia, and Vladimir Putin decided the time was ripe to recover the Soviet Empire. Secretary Kerry has brokered “peace processes” and “cease fires” and misidentified intentions and misunderstood threats. We cannot even officially call the Fort Hood shooting terrorism, or call anyone a terrorist. This is not just a language problem, but a matter of facing up to reality instead of just wishful thinking.

“Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have said there are no credible threats to the United States from the Islamic State terror group.” according to an intelligence memo  issued to state and local authorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel described the Islamic State as “beyond anything we’ve seen.” He called on U.S. intelligence resources to “take a cold steely look” and to “get ready” for a “9/11 level threat” to the United States, and presents a “whole new dynamic” as a national security challenge.

Mush. It is all mush. We have another “cease fire” between Hamas and Israel, until Hamas is ready to fire some more rockets at Israel. The Islamic State has captured a region the size of Belgium, and is recruiting fighters from all over the Middle East, Europe, Africa and America and Canada, and growing exponentially.

They have captured a nation’s American military equipment; a Syrian air force base. aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons. They have demonstrated a brutality beyond imagining, and the State Department carefully doesn’t want to admit that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam. We are not only unprepared to address the threat, we cannot admit that there is a threat, nor describe it clearly. We’re still babbling about “brokering a peaceful solution.” We are easy prey .



Taking the ISIS Threat to America Seriously: by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-tank
Stating it plainly, David French laid it out in six sentences at NRO:

  1. Al-Qaeda carried out the deadliest attack on American soil in American history and the most devastating foreign attack against an American city since the British occupied and burned Washington in the War of 1812.
  2. ISIS is more brutal than al-Qaeda.
  3. ISIS has more financial resources than al-Qaeda.
  4. ISIS controls more territory—and possesses more firepower —than al-Qaeda.
  5. ISIS has seized uranium in sufficient quantities to make a dirty bomb.
  6. The leader of ISIS told his American captors: “See you in New York,” and ISIS militants have pledged to rise the black flag of jihad over the White House.

I would add that large numbers of the Islamic State fighters have been recruited from European countries and the United States and Canada — they have passports. The 9/11 terrorists came in on ordinary passports, they didn’t find it necessary to cross a border surreptitiously, though our currently open borders must be tempting.

“Brutal” isn’t a strong enough word. The Islamic State is recruiting by encouraging a kind of blood lust. Come join us and chop off people’s heads, whatever you ever wanted to do, in your wildest fantasies, to your enemies — come and let us fantasize together.

And now we learn that Obama dithered for a month after the rescue mission was planned. We have been told that the captured Americans were not where intelligence thought they were — was that information from before or after the month of dithering?



Are You Worried About the Rise of a “Militarized” Police Force? by The Elephant's Child

Congress is coming under pressure to “do something” about the rise of a “militarized” police force in the United States. You have millions of Americans watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri on television, and goodness, the police look really scary.

260206main_Swat2_904
The military and some government departments like Homeland Security are making their surplus equipment available to police departments across the country. Much of the material may be brand new, but outdated by newer technology. Some articles suggest that the materials are free, except for shipping, others suggest that it’s for sale, but cheap for struggling police department budgets.

Nebraska_State_Trooper
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The Tampa tank does seem somewhat excessive, but then the other two do too. What kind of situation are they preparing for? An ISIS attack here in this country? The bounty available includes weapons, helmets, ammunition. The uniform standards have changed as well. No more friendly police blue, but camouflage, designed for blending into the natural surroundings of the battlefield, but not for city streets. All black seems to have become popular, but it brings with it a history of the SS, and ISIS, and countless movies.

The purpose of an armed military is to be aggressive, ready to attack, dangerous, and scary. The purpose of an armed police force is meant to be protective. They are there to protect the civilian population from the bad guys. For either force — its appearance has an effect on both civilians and adversaries. Bad guys who intend to perform bad actions in a community protected by the armored equipment pictured above will arm themselves accordingly—grenade launchers, mortars, Molotov cocktails—or worse. Does the possession of a vehicle like the one just above guarantee safety from terrorist attacks, and what is the effect in your ordinary everyday riot?

I’m sure there is a temptation towards the all powerful, completely scary and excessively macho version. The cops would feel safer and more powerful Policing is hard work, and policemen are killed in the line of duty. It can be dangerous, and often is. Yet we clearly need some adult judgment here.

The Seattle Police have coped with our occasional riots with bicycle squads and mounted police — fairly successfully. They start mildly, and gradually add force if necessary. If it continues into a second day, they start that with some force. Depends on whether the Anarchists are arriving in force.

Rather than a hasty Congressional intrusion, we probably need studies (which may well already exist) on what causes a riot to escalate. We may have terrorists crossing the border, or more likely using their European passports. The likelihood of their being able to equip themselves with fancy military equipment would seem low, but bombs that involve nothing more than acquiring bomb-making materials or ordinary weapons is highly likely.

Those of us who hear about the activities of the police only in the news, really don’t know much of anything about it. Those of us who are watching the riots in Ferguson as it is filtered through the media don’t know much of anything either. Yet we read of SWAT teams breaking down the door of innocent civilians at 4:00 a.m. because they got the wrong house, or because of misinformation. We have no idea if this is a regular problem or if it is a rare occurrence that we hear about only because “if it bleeds it leads.”

Confidence in government is low. The economy is not recovering noticeably. The world seems completely in flames.  Iraq, Syria, Russia, China, Iran. Ebola in Africa. Uncontrolled illegal immigration is being allowed, if not encouraged at our border.  We have no leadership. Our military is being slashed back to pre-World War II levels. ISIS threatens to raise their black flag over the White House. Everybody is on vacation. But when the weather cools in September and October, we can expect another flood of 60,000 illegals from Central America, because nobody has, nor will, make it clear that they are unwelcome. Other than that…

ah-your-friendly-neighborhood-swat-team

ADDENDUM: I added slightly to the piece as first posted, because the bit about the Seattle Police suggested they didn’t go beyond mounted police, which was inaccurate. 



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.




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