American Elephants


Making the World a Little More Dangerous, One Step at a Time. by The Elephant's Child
June 6, 2010, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Israel, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

(click to enlarge)

What’s going on with Israel?  World governments are busily condemning Israel over the flotilla incident in which Israeli soldiers, boarding a ship attempting to breach the completely legal blockade of Gaza, were attacked, beaten, and in danger of their lives.

The lead ship of the flotilla, a Turkish ship — the Mavi Marmara — manned by “peace activists” who advertised themselves as “adhering to nonviolence and nonviolent resistance on word and deed at all times.” The “peace activists” were waiting with knives, metal clubs, slingshots with steel balls and fire bombs.  All the usual people were shocked! shocked!  A deliberate provocation, staged with all sorts of planning by the phony peace activist pals of Hamas, turned into the hysterical headlines the organizers were looking for.

As Victor Davis Hanson said:

Turkey thought that the Gaza flotilla would be yet another clever way of confronting Israel: They would hype the hoped-for “overreaction,” then posture as regional defender of the faith to the world’s outraged Muslims. However, as more details of the incident emerge, more and more suspicion is falling on Turkish interests that seem to have gone out of their way to stage a violent encounter in order to showcase Turkey’s new Mideast role.

At the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger added:

The world’s peoples may pay soon for their leaders’ display of such a disproportionate double standard. Recall that the other, recent instance when the world’s governments deployed their collective authority and wrath was last June, against Lilliputian Honduras. The conclusion is inescapable: The smaller the problem, the larger the world powers’ output of hot air. But if a problem is large or difficult—especially if the problem is nuclear—they blink and deflate, and will do so repeatedly. Example: It emerged this week that the International Atomic Energy Agency believes Iran is pursuing higher-enriched uranium and “the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” The world yawns. Or hides.

Now Iran is threatening to send their Revolutionary Guard navy to safeguard another flotilla attempting to break the blockade.  The completely legal blockade conducted by Israel and Egypt.  Egypt too is threatened by Hamas.  The United States appears weak and indecisive, and enemies are always ready to take advantage of weakness.  Obama sort of said he would stand with Israel, while offering undeserved condolences to Turkey and insisting on an investigation.  This is what other nations understand as weakness.  And belligerents often overestimate weakness.

The present government of Turkey, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  is attempting a new Mideast role, reestablishing its long ago role as leader of the Ottoman empire.   The world’s powers feel free to pile on relatively small isolated nations.  They “find it easier to be blowhards than statesmen,” said Dan Henninger.  “And that means we have a problem.”



From Iran: A Rant or A Warning? by The Elephant's Child
May 16, 2010, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

From the Associated Press, dated May 15, 2010.

TEHRAN, Iran —A radical cleric called Saturday for the creation of a “Greater Iran” that would rule over the entire Middle East and Central Asia, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam’s expected messiah.

Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi said the creation of what he calls an Islamic United States is a central aim of the political party he leads called Hezbollah, or Party of God, and that he hoped to make it a reality if they win the next presidential election.

Mr. Kharrazi’s comments reveal the thinking of a growing number of hard-liners in Iran, many of whom have become more radical during the post-election political crisis and the international standoff over the country’s nuclear program.  Mr. Kharrazi, however, isn’t highly influential in Iran’s clerical hierarchy and his views don’t represent those of the current government.

Mn hmm.  And U.S. Attorney General Erik Holder just cannot bring himself to say the words “Radical Islam.”  Just fills you with confidence.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano blames Americans (those violent tea party types) first, and calls 9/11 a “Man-Caused Disaster.” A disaster it was, but this kind of language — weak, pandering, politically correct, simply avoids not just clear thinking, but thought.  What it says to the rest of the world is”weak.” And that is not a good message to send.

We have an administration that cannot seem to grasp the reality of Islamic radicalism, pressing for month after month for talks with a government that has been leading their followers in shouts of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” steadily ever  since 1979.  Even fairly obvious clues just don’t register with some people.

Still, even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that he expects the government which follows his to be “ten times more revolutionary.”



Iran (Iran!) has Been Elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women! by The Elephant's Child
April 29, 2010, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , ,

The United Nations is a remarkable organization in many bizarre ways:

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,” according to its website.

And back home, Tehran’s police chief said a national crackdown on opposition sympathizers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws.   He said:

The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehavior by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.

Well, there you go.  Human rights.  Words fail me.



A Nuclear Summit that Yields — Not Much. by The Elephant's Child
April 13, 2010, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, National Security, Statism, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

President Obama has checked off another little item on his list. He has saved the world from the horrors of nuclear weapons. As The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank began his piece today:

World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.

They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard Truck.

In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

Reporters for foreign outlets, admitted for the first time to the White House Press pool were ushered out after Obama’s eight-minute opening statement — which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”

Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press. . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”

President Transparency has believed since his undergraduate days in the Nuclear Freeze movement, that nuclear weapons kill people.  So he has signed a START treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons — that includes a long list of just when Moscow will ignore the treaty. The Russians were apparently adamant about excluding tactical weapons, where they have a 10-1 advantage,  from the treaty.

The big Nuke Summit doesn’t yield much of anything at all.  Canada and Chile agreed to send some uranium to the United States. ( We were really worried about Canada).  The Ukraine will send some to Russia.   Obama insulted some more allies and bowed to despots once again.

And surprise, surprise, our greatest nuclear threat is not addressed at all by the uranium transfers announced with such fanfare.  One would think that someone in the administration might take seriously Iran’s announced threat to America, Israel,and Europe, but that might take something more than pretty speeches, and summit meetings that promise to meet once again — just like the eternal and useless climate meetings.

The threat of Islamic terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons more likely comes from Iran, Pakistan or North Korea than any other source. But this was not addressed at all.  Of course if we actually got any nuclear material from one of the 47 nations in attendance, what would we do with it?  We have no place to put it, since President Obama shut down Yucca Mountain.

But is our greatest threat terrorists?  Or is it the mullahs who lead the chant of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and proudly announce how many centrifuges they have operating?  And does President Transparency have any intention of doing anything at all about Iran?  Even encouraging the dissidents who want to overthrow the government?  Didn’t think so.  Big speeches, not open to the press, are more his speed, and banning words like jihad, and  Islam, and terrorist.



Ideology Trumps Common Sense, America Loses. by The Elephant's Child

A full one-third of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11 have occurred in 2009, under Obama’s watch. Just mentioning.

There is a segment of the population that believes that if people of good will would just sit down together and decide to end war, then we would have eternal peace.  And so it is with violence,  if we would just renounce violence, then no one would be violent anymore.  They believe in community, and communes.  We can all just live together in harmony, sharing the work and the rewards, sharing everything.  That always works out well.

President Obama has a vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  Apparently it has taken a year and 150 meetings to translate his vision into a policy prescription known as the Nuclear Posture Review.  It took a while to wear down those within the administration who were opposed to actually disarming the United States.

President Obama feels quite comfortable criticizing our friends and telling them how to behave.  Our enemies require coddling.  A treaty seems to be the end game, although treaties are only words.  James Carafano reminds us of some of the history of World War I.

That global conflict was billed as “the war to end all wars.” The Versailles Treaty was meant to seal the deal. But its words couldn’t stop the German military.

The treaty aimed to prevent Germany from producing cutting-edge weaponry. The Kaiser’s U-boats, for example, had taken a dreadful toll during the war.

So the treaty forbid all future “construction and purchase of all underwater vessels, even for commercial purposes … in Germany.” The Germans consequently used foreign dummy corporations to build and test their new and improved U-boat designs while Karl Doenitz developed the “wolf pack” tactics that would make Nazi submarines the scourge of the Atlantic during World War II.

The treaty also placed great restrictions on German air forces. It said nothing, however, about rockets or missiles. Wernher Von Braun brought that loophole to the attention of the German high command. In turn, it bankrolled development of the world’s first military missile — the A4. During World War II, 3,000 of them rained down on Britain.

Measuring intentions is an important part of negotiating any treaty. Yet this basic tenet of foreign policy seems to elude our current administration. Case in point: the new arms control treaty the president plans to sign.

President Obama believes that reducing nuclear arms in concert with Moscow is the first step on the “road to zero.” Unfortunately, the Russians don’t.

Moscow sees its nuclear weapons as the cornerstone of its defense. Moreover, its unspoken threat of nuclear attack is central to the success of its foreign policy. Significantly diminishing those resources is the last thing Russia plans on doing.

Moscow does, however, want to see the U.S. nuclear deterrent reduced to an equal footing with its mediocre might. It also wants U.S. conventional strike capabilities and missile defense to be on the table.

The Ayatollahs in Tehran want nuclear weapons badly.  They see them as giving Iran a pre-eminent place in the Middle East, and control of the region.  The White House is still talking about sanctions, but they are too little and too late.  The ‘Green Movement’s”efforts to discredit the regime deserved our support.  The lessons that the Iranian regime has learned is that they can do whatever they want and we will not impose any price.

We now face what once we thought unthinkable, a nuclear armed Iran.  A world much more dangerous and unstable.  Ronald Reagan didn’t have to threaten war, he only needed to fire the air traffic controllers.  It is not the words of the fine speeches that influence our adversaries and competitors,  but our actions and behavior.  Obama doesn’t come off as exactly a  tower of strength.



The Art of Controlling the Public Vocabulary. Sometimes Called Propaganda. by The Elephant's Child

Vice President Joe Biden recently announced that he didn’t think that the terrorists were able to pull off another attack like the attack on the twin towers on 9/11. “They are, in fact, not able to do anything remotely like they were able to do in the past.” And the Iraq War was lost many moons ago and anyway it should be divided into three states.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs assured us that Iran’s claims about nuclear enrichment were not matched by reality.

“The Iranian nuclear program has undergone a series of problems throughout the year; we do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching.

The notably reluctant UN just belatedly announced that the Iranian theocracy is focused very seriously on obtaining a warhead.

Victor Davis Hanson notes in a post at the Corner:

This administration has a particularly bad record of prognostication (cf. last year’s assurances on the unemployment rate, the number of jobs saved or created, the size of the deficit, etc.).

This administration has an even worse record of consistency, e.g., former fat cats on Wall Street are now wealth producers; once-taboo nuclear power is now viable; KSM will/will not be tried in New York; previously anti-Constitutional protocols from renditions, tribunals and wiretaps to Predators, Iraq, and Guantanamo are now apparently acceptable anti-terrorism methodologies.  I am sure that, if need be, they with blithely and without embarrassment offer us a new narrative in which, in fact, al-Qaeda is still dangerous in the 9/11 sense and Iran is most assuredly is close to getting a bomb.

This is usually called “hubris.” Joe Biden’s most consistent record is one of being wrong on almost everything.   He said Dick Cheney has not given President Obama credit for killing dozens of al Qaeda  leaders in what he characterized as a more aggressive fight against terrorism than was waged under the Bush administration. One of  Vice President Cheney’s consistent criticisms it that Obama is not treating the fight against terrorism as a war.

Biden responded: “The President of the United States said in the State of the Union, ‘We’re at war with al Qaeda.’ He stated this — and by the way, we’re pursuing that war with a vigor like it’s never been seen before.”

In the meantime, the Iraq War has — a new name.  No longer Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Obama administration has decided to call it “Operation New Dawn.” Defense Secretary Gates said:

Gates writes that by changing the name at the same time as the change of mission — the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. combat troops — the US is sending “a strong signal that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission.”

The move, Gates writes, “also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq.”

As Jonah Goldberg said ” I guess “Operation Defend Biden’s Gaffe” was too blunt.



There are Serious People in Congress Who Do Have Serious Discussions. This One’s Worth Your Time. by The Elephant's Child
February 5, 2010, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Here’s a very interesting conversation led by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Nice to see some serious discussion in Congress about the serious matters we send them there to discuss.

(h/t: The Corner, NRO)



Furious Protests Continue In All Major Cities in Iran. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Islam | Tags: , , ,

Michael Ledeen explains what is happening in Iran right now.  Krauthammer is right.  This is one of the hinges of history.

From Deutsche Wellle:

In a strong statement to the press on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the actions of Iran’s state security services “unacceptable.”

She called on them to “avoid any further escalation of the violence and to pursue political dialogue to peacefully settle internally disputed matters,” and also to respect their commitment to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to peaceful protest.

At least eight people were killed in street clashes in Tehran when police and Basij militia members confronted protest marchers who were attempting to gather at a number of central squares. Sunday’s protests took place on Ashura, a Shiite Islamic holy day devoted to honoring martyrs, often through street marches.

Violent response

According to opposition sources, security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to try to get the marchers to disperse.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized Iran’s tactics as “brutal,” and said that the international community “would be watching, not looking away.”

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Bernard Valero, said his country again expressed “deep concern,” and “condemns the arbitrary arrests and violence carried out against ordinary protesters.”

He added that intensification of repression “would lead nowhere.”

The Italian foreign ministry, meanwhile, warned the Islamic republic that “safeguarding human lives is a fundamental value which must be defended everywhere and in every circumstance.”

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer made a statement on violence in Iran:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and, as President Obama said in Oslo, it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

An article by Nile Gardner, Washington-based foreign affairs analyst for the U.K. Telegraph, was headlined “Iranian protesters are dying for freedom — where is Barack Obama?

Here is a video from Iran. It’s hard to watch, but it has a happy ending. The death toll has risen to 15 18.


(h/t: Ace of Spades)



“Smart Power” in Action: by American Elephant
November 30, 2009, 4:14 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, News, Politics | Tags: ,

Iran announces huge nuclear expansion:

Iran’s Government today announced plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants and said work would start within two months.

Each site will be the size of the existing Natanz plant with the aim of producing between 250-300 tonnes of uranium a year. [read more]

More of  the “change” conservatives tried to warn people that Obama would bring.



Gravitas. Dick Cheney Speaks at the Center for Security Policy. by The Elephant's Child

Vice President Cheney gave a speech last night at the Center for Security Policy.  Once again, he proved why he is probably the most consequential vice president in the Nation’s history.

An excerpt from the speech:

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire – and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

A full transcript of the speech is available here.




Oh By All Means, Let’s Have a Meaningful Dialogue! by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, September 23— President Obama speaks to the United Nations General Assembly. He says “if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards…then they must be held accountable.  The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.”

Thursday, September 24— President Obama chaired a session of the U.N. Security Council.  When the Security Council passed a new resolution which never mentions Iran or North Korea, Obama pounded his gavel and proclaimed: “The resolution we passed today will also strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  We have made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and the responsibility to respond to violations to this treaty.  We’ve made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and responsibility to determine and respond as necessary when violations of this treaty threaten international peace and security.  That includes full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea.  Let me be clear.  This is not about singling out individual nations….[W]e must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.”

Friday, September 25— Speaking to the G-20 in Pittsburgh, President Obama admitted that “yesterday in Vienna, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France presented detailed evidence to the IAEA demonstrating that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years….The existence of this facility underscores Iran’s continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions…Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime…[T]he size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.  Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow… [and is; threatening the stability and security of the region and the world."

So when President Obama spoke to the General Assembly and the Security Council, he already knew that Iran's latest violations of "international standards"  endangered peace, but he refused to put Iran on the agenda of the Security Council summit. So he made a perfectly useless speech, and got a perfectly useless resolution.

As a matter of fact, the president has known since last fall, before he was inaugurated that Iran had another facility at Qom. He knew when Iranians  took to the streets to protest an illegitimate election, and he refused to offer any encouraging words.  The demonstrations continue, but words in favor of liberty have not been forthcoming.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France [France!] in the U.N.’s translation from the French said…“President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons.  Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment.  Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions… I support America’s extended hand.  But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community  Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges.  And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping of the map a Member of the United Nations.

As Jules Crittenden said: “It’s a sad state of affairs when a Frenchman mocks an American president and you have to go with the frog.”

From his statement on Friday, Obama said: “The size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.” Gosh! You think?

The regime in Iran is corrupt, willing to use terror as a weapon at home and abroad. It has demonstrated over and over that it will stop at nothing to acquire nuclear weapons, and that it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of the United States.

Lest you think that President Obama has no particular foreign policy beyond a mushy hope for “meaningful dialogue” maybe around December or so, that he is unconcerned about a nuclear holocaust, never fear.  He says that if the international community does not act swiftly to deal with climate change that “we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.”

“The security and stability of each nation and all peoples —  our prosperity, our health, and our safety — are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” But then the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental activist groups say the President’s speech didn’t go far enough, that it was an opportunity missed.

Well, it’s always especially nice when everybody has their priorities straight.That one degree of warming we had last century, back before 1998, was really worrying. Now that the climate’s been cooling for the last ten years we are facing “irreversible catastrophe”— but nuclear attacks — that’s so, so 20th century!




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