American Elephants


The Rise of Terrorism — And the Response: by The Elephant's Child

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Speaking as a partisan right wing-nut, and a 4th generation Republican at that, the Republican presidents with which I am familiar — would have bombed the hell out of every ISIS-known stronghold by now.

President Obama spoke yesterday from the Edgartown School in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Among other things he said:

So ISIL speaks for no religion.  Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.  No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.  ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings.

But they call themselves The Islamic State, they claim to be establishing “a new Islamic Caliphate” and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has proclaimed himself the Caliph. A few days ago, it was claimed that ISIS, which arose out of the defeated Sunni ‘militants’ of al Qaeda in Iraq fighters, had been banished by al Qaeda in February, but apparently, since ISIS has been pretty successful in getting financing (robbing banks and ransom money for hostages), and acquiring a vast store of American weapons, al Qaeda is claiming them again.

We have seen videos of all sorts of jihadists, including little children, who proclaim that God requires them to do jihad until all the unbelievers are gone.  Early in Dexter Filkins essential book The Forever War, he spoke of talking to some Pakistani prisoners in Lejdeh in Northern Afghanistan.

Then there was Faiz Ahmad, seventeen, wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, a hajj cap and no beard. He seemed listless like the others, but when I asked him a question, he came alive.
“It is written in the Koran that we must kill the nonbelievers,” Ahmad said. “My teacher taught me this.” … “There is no end to the jihad,” Ahmad said.”It will go on forever until doomsday.”

I understand the politically correct need to proclaim that Islam is a Religion of Peace, and there are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, just under the numbers of Christians, and most are not jihadists. But how are the 1.6 billion going to stamp out the very noisy jihadists who want to destroy us all, if we keep saying ‘never mind, it’s really a religion of peace? “Sayyid Qutb, one of the intellectual forefathers of jihadist thought, believed that Islam could not truly be practiced without a caliphate unifying the Muslim world and implementing Islamic law.”

President Obama, in his statement, added that “we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.” Attorney General Eric Holder said today that his Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the brutal execution by Islamic State militants of American journalist James Foley, in the latest move by the administration to use the criminal justice system to pursue terrorists.

I assumed it was a military matter, but political correctness trumps all. “Speaking truth to power,” as the saying goes — doesn’t have much truth in it. And considering consequences is seldom involved. The Islamic State may be rich in cash and weapons, and according to Al Jazeera has jihadis flocking to their cause, but al Qaeda has the linked organizations all over the world. Killing bin Laden did not make the threat go away, To the contrary, we now have jihadists with American and European passports.

Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was killed in early 2002, was killed for the same reason that an ISIS fanatic killed James Foley — to convey an impression of strength— an admission of weakness instead. Max Boot has outlined the necessity for a military intervention and its essential nature.

Janet Daley, writing in The Telegraph sums it up with clarity in a column that asks “What does the Obama White House stand for?”

Barack Obama is discovering – rather belatedly – precisely what is involved in being president of the United States. How he has managed to avoid this for his first term and a half in office is a historical peculiarity. But we are where we are. He now has a full-blown, world-threatening foreign crisis in which the decisions that he makes from one minute to the next might result in immediate mass slaughter, a prolonged war or a gradual de-escalation of the conflict – or possibly all three in progressive stages. At the same moment, bizarrely, he is facing a domestic upheaval of staggering proportions: the return of riots and racially based violence in the urban streets of a kind which his very election as president was supposed to have made a thing of the past.



A Strong America Makes the World Safer. by The Elephant's Child

Last night Bob Schieffer did a fine job of moderating and keeping the focus on the candidates.  Governor Romney came to the debate, opting for a strategy that demonstrated his familiarity with the problems of the world, his ability to focus on what is important, and remaining cool and confident.

Many of his supporters, incensed by the scandal of the administration’s bungling of the Benghazi attack, expected the governor to take him on, and were disappointed. Romney was absolutely clear on what it was all about. A successful foreign policy depends on a strong America, and a strong America depends on a strong economy.

The Obama campaign had made a great effort to portray Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch rich businessman who got rich by nefarious means, attempting to describe Bain Capital as some kind of corporate raider, and Romney as callous and uncaring. It’s true, he is rich. But the first debate where Obama seemed unprepared, contemptuous and snarky revealed a Mitt Romney who was completely different from the Obama team’s portrayal. Here was a businessman who believed his success at reviving and growing businesses, rescuing the Salt Lake Winter Olympics from scandal and financial crisis, and as a successful governor gave him the tools to successfully tackle an economy far too long in recession.

1. Obama has done a bad job of being president. The economy he inherited was indeed in deep trouble, but the recession he “inherited” from George W. Bush ended (officially) in June 2009. He simply did not have the skill set to address it, and had the wrong ideas about what to do. He also inherited a dangerous world, and failed to understand how to make it safe. The country is far from better off after four years. A president who cannot say the word “terrorism” does not clearly understand today’s world.

2. Mitt Romney, in person, was obviously not the scary fellow portrayed by the Obama campaign. He was a successful businessman who had learned a lot of lessons in 25 years of growing companies and creating jobs, and has sound ideas about how to restore the economy and create jobs. America has enormous wealth in energy, and out abundant supplies of cheap natural gas can fuel a resurgent economy. People saw a Romney that was not only what he appeared to be, but clearly someone who could do the job.

Obama clearly failed the first debate. Even the most ardent Obama supporters were dismayed. So in the second debate, the unfortunate Townhall format, Obama came back ready for battle, angry, snarky, aggressive, belligerent, with an attack still based on Democrat campaign ads that portray that out-of-touch rich fellow. Romney seemed presidential, focused, in command of facts and figures.

Last night, if Governor Romney seemed restrained, controlled and presidential, Obama seemed like the desperate challenger. He gazed steadily at Romney with what twitterers called “the death stare” and was snarky and condescending. The exchange about the Navy was telling. Obama tried to claim that the military doesn’t want or need the men and equipment that he is trying to eliminate. This is a flat-out lie. The Military is screaming bloody murder to the extent they can while still respecting the authority of the Commander in Chief.

Romney responded that Obama’s cuts to the Navy would take the Navy back to its state in 1916. Obama responded that the nature of the military had changed and we now had ships with flat surfaces that planes land on, and other kinds of ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines, and furthermore perhaps Romney didn’t realize that the military didn’t depend on horses and bayonets any more. Um, the Navy doesn’t call them ships, they call them boats, and the military in Afghanistan has depended on horses, and every Marine gets extensive training in bayonet use, because they are still needed in close combat. This was supposedly a good line for Obama according to his supporters who are a little fuzzy on things military, but it infuriated members of the military and veterans who were appalled by presidential misinformation.

Romney did tackle Obama on his “Apology Tour,” to which Obama responded that reporters would tell him that there was no apology. Well, yes the compliant media perhaps would. Obama’s apology for “dictating to other nations” drew the response from Governor Romney that “America does not dictate to other nations; America has freed other nations from dictators.”

Romney may not have been aggressive in the final debate, but he was presidential, clear and absolutely focused. He passed the Commander in Chief test.




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