American Elephants


Understanding Ukraine: The Problems Today and Some Historical Context by The Elephant's Child
April 3, 2014, 6:32 am
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Politics, Russia | Tags: , ,


So Much for the Famous “Reset Button.” by The Elephant's Child
May 13, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Israel, Middle East | Tags: , , , ,


President Obama has rolled out the red carpet for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.   Mr. Obama has realized that he has offended Mr. Karzai, and is attempting to mend fences.  It was widely publicized that the administration hoped to see Mr. Karzai replaced — not exactly the way to make friends among national leaders.

Obama’s success on the campaign trail, with enthusiastic crowds and an adoring press, may have given him the illusion that he could sway national interests with his charm and mellow baritone voice. But nations have interests, and the particular interests of the American president don’t trump the interests of other countries.  Working together requires putting aside the arrogance and refraining from telling other people what to do. George W. Bush may have been unpopular in the streets, but his relations with national leaders were, for the most part, excellent.

Obama  has told us over and over that talks are the ultimate goal.  If he could just sit down and talk with the Mullahs of Iran, they surely would find areas of agreement.  The Mullahs have no interest in talks, they have never had any interest in talks.  It hasn’t worked.

President Obama’s relations with other national leaders are not good. He has made no friends.  An exception was supposed to be President Dimitry Medvedev of Russia. They got along famously, we were told, the agreement enhanced by Obama’s willingness to give up our missile defense in Eastern Europe.

Now we learn that Medvedev has paid a state visit to Syrian President Assad in Damascus that resulted in Moscow’s full endorsement of the Arab agenda against Israel, plus a direct Kremlin challenge to American Mideast diplomacy.

In a joint communiqué with Assad, Medvedev added his own Middle East plan, including 1.) Putting the blame for Mideast tensions on Israel, 2.) Demanding a complete Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, 3.) Demanding that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state, 4.) Endorsing Palestinian demands for a “right of return” — a formula for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.

Medvedev also offered nuclear plants to Syria. His next stop — Turkey to whom he has also offered a nuclear plant.

Obama has placed all his bets on getting his Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, to mediate indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The administration seems to be laboring under the illusion that the problems of the Middle East would go away, if Israel would just make peace with the Palestinians — whose stated goal is to “drive Israel into the sea.”

So much for the reset button, and so much for Obama’s role as the world historical figure who has brought peace to the troubled Middle East.  The Russian bear has other ideas, and they clearly involve a larger role in the Middle East.



How They Celebrate Earth Day in Russia. by The Elephant's Child
April 22, 2010, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Environment, Humor, Statism | Tags: , ,

(h/t: Chris Horner, Planet Gore)



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.



Obama’s Teleprompter Problem. by The Elephant's Child

Has there ever before been a candidate for the Presidency of the United States who ran on a platform of not liking his country much? At least when he’s speaking without a teleprompter. He can’t seem to stop putting his foot into it. On Wednesday in Lynchburg, VA, Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again for invading another country’s sovereign territory while stating that “the United States should set a better example on that front”.

The Illinois senator’s initial opposition to the Iraq war is his only claim to fame, and to which he refers whenever possible. (I think he was pathetically and disastrously wrong, but he is entitled to his opinion). He went on to say “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point”.

Victor Davis Hanson found that a little much too:

Let me get this straight; getting a Senate and House majority to authorize a bipartisan joint war-resolution, going to the U.N., assembling a coalition, having a national and world debate on the wisdom of such an operation from December 2001 to March 2003, and then attacking a genocidal dictator, and staying on to foster a constitutional democracy are apparently the same “charge” “example” as an autocrcy suddenly invading its democratic neighbor during the Olympics, and staying on to annex some of its territory?

Aside from the silliness of these statements, the problem for Obama, again, is that incrementally they really do start to add up — America’s “tragic history,” the mini-sermon on decline to the 7-year-old, waffling exegesis to Rick Warren about our own evil, the confessions to the cheering Berliners about our transgressions — and these doubts are enhanced rather than ameliorated by Michelle Obama’s various rantings, and the creepy things former associates like Ayers, Wright, and Pfleger have said about America and its culture.

Obama has made it pretty clear that history is not his strong point, nor foreign policy. I still can’t get over his claim that he is especially knowledgeable about foreign policy because he lived abroad from age 6 to age 10.

I am offended by his constant put-downs of the country, and by his insistence that the country is in terrible shape. I suppose that if you are a messiah, and you can convince everyone that things are almost beyond redemption, and that you and you alone can redeem the world; well then, I guess you get a bunch of people sitting around chanting Oh-bah-mah. Seems a little sick-making to me.



For Every Action, There is a Reaction. by The Elephant's Child
August 22, 2008, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, News, Politics | Tags: , ,

The Russians seem not to be moving out of Georgia in spite of Western demands. They clearly are not happy with missiles in Poland and with the defiance of their former satellites. Now it seems that investors are yanking their money out of Russian markets. Until Russia invaded Georgia, there had been only massive inflows of capital, probably because of the rising price of oil which represents 20% of Russia’s gross domestic product.

The outbreak of militarism, red tape, corruption, and war talk has caused some to make a hasty exit and take their money with them. On Friday, Russia’s central bank announced that its foreign currency reserves — a central part of its economic stability had dropped $16.4 billion in the last week to $581.1 billion. This was the biggest decline since Russia’s 1998 currency crisis which led to triple digit inflation and a collapse of the ruble.

Oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was eligible for release from prison, but Russian authorities have decided to keep him in prison, without comment. His biggest crime seems to be that he was not politically aligned with Putin.

Russia’s oil boom has done little to improve conditions in Russia. Health care is poor, alcoholism is widespread, and life expectancy is short. Russia’s population is declining by approximately 500,000 a year, and is expected to accelerate.

It’s a strange world, isn’t it?



The crisis in Georgia through the eyes of Michael Totten… by The Elephant's Child
August 21, 2008, 1:41 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Totten, independent journalist extraordinaire, reports from Tbilisi in Georgia, and describes the situation there. He describes a refugee crisis all over the country and especially in the capital. Schools have been transformed into refugee housing. Michael visited one of the schools and spoke to four women — Lia, Nana, Diana, and Maya — who had fled with their children from small villages near Gori.

“We left the cattle,” Lia said. “We left the house. We left everything and came on foot because to stay there was impossible”. Diana’s account: “They are burning the houses. From most of the houses they are taking everything. They are stealing everything, even such things as toothbrushes and toilets. They are taking the toilets. Imagine. They are taking broken refrigerators.” And Nana: “We are so heartbroken. I don’t know what to say or even think. Our whole lives we were working to save something , and one day we lost everything. Now I have to start everything from the very beginning.”

As always in his reporting, Michael gives a sense of immediacy to today’s events. Read the whole thing.




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