American Elephants


Go Army! by American Elephant
December 3, 2009, 4:34 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Military | Tags: , ,

A U.S. Army cadet reads a book entitled "Kill Bin Laden" ...

A U.S. Army cadet reads a book entitled Kill Bin Laden as he waits with other cadets for U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver an address on U.S. policy and the war in Afghanistan at the U.S. [read more]

Drudge reports that he was reading it during Obama’s speech, which I suspect is an error.  I think those young cadets are far too disciplined and respectful to do that, no matter how much they may have wanted to. Still it’s nice to see this clever cadet expressing himself with a clarity and resolve that the president failed to muster.

His neighbor was reading Brad Thor.



Is Obama waiting for Blair? by American Elephant
October 2, 2009, 1:54 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Military, National Security, News | Tags: , ,

Update: Welcome Red State Readers!

Thanks to Moe Lane for the link! While you’re here, we hope you’ll have a look around our humble little blog and tell us what you think.

Obama has taken ownership of the war in Afghanistan. Since the presidential campaign, he has characterized it as the good war while he calls the Iraq war (despite liberating 24 million people, and turning an avowed enemy and a rogue dictator into a democratic ally) a mistake.

Meanwhile, things have not been going well in Afghanistan of late. Restrictive rules of engagement are getting our troops killed while the president hems and haws about what to do.

On the one hand, the loss will be Obama’s — he cannot blame it on President Bush — and no president wants that kind of legacy. On the other hand, our allies continue to leave the theater, and Obama’s base, the left, have finally gotten the courage up to admit that their prior support of the Afghan war was always a lie (Imagine that!) and they want to bail on that war as well.

With that in mind, come two headlines today:

White  House: Obama to take ‘Next several weeks’ to review strategy and,

Tony Blair to head the EU within weeks.

Now we all know Tony Blair has his head on straight about both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and resolutely so. Is Obama then waiting for Blair’s leadership to give him the political cover to send more troops to Afghanistan? Or are the stories unrelated, and Obama simply finds himself too busy trying to secure Olympic contracts for his Chicago cronies and seizing the American health-care system for his union thugs to bother himself with little things like terrorism, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and our troops lives?

Let’s hope it’s the former.

Time will tell.



Veterans Forced to Wait for Their Checks, Bureaucrats get $24M Bonuses. by The Elephant's Child
August 22, 2009, 1:20 am
Filed under: Military, News, Politics | Tags: , , ,

It’s Friday, and time for another Washington scandal.  Severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment.  Inside the Veterans Affairs Department, money has been flowing to the bureaucrats in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

In scathing reports this week, the VA’s inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances.  It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

Bonuses in amounts over $50,000;  improperly authorized college tuition payments for VA employees; $37,000 worth of travel on the government’s ticket to see a boyfriend are just some of the problems unearthed by the inspector general.

The numbers of claims the VA needs to process have increased , and the Office of  Information and Technology is tasked with improving the technological infrastructure to handle the increase.  The backlog has allowed some veterans to wait months for a disability check.

The VFW and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) the top Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee are speaking out, and the proper corrective actions will no doubt take place.  If somebody is going to suffer, it should not be our wounded veterans.  They deserve the best the nation can give them.



There is More Good News from Iraq. by The Elephant's Child

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq are at a 6 year low. Three Marines have been killed in combat since last August.  The Navy has not lost a member to combat since February of 2008.  The Air Force hasn’t had a combat death since last April.  In some weeks the number of non-combat deaths for U.S. troops has topped those killed in fighting.

Iraqis’ faith in government institutions has vastly improved.  84 percent of Iraqis feel good about their security, 78% feel positive about crime protection, and 74 percent are positive about their freedom of movement.  These figures come from an ABC News/BBC poll that documents the improvements in Iraq.

64 percent of Iraqis prefer Democracy as the political system for Iraq.  Only 14 percent prefer a strong leader and only slightly more, 16 percent would prefer an Islamic state.  George Bush was right.

A poll finding that was particularly interesting was that 53 percent of Iraqis say they “never” attend mosque, while another 11 percent attend “several times a year”.  This is certainly not what we have been led to believe

The people have confidence in the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army at 74 percent and 73 percent respectively. 61 percent have confidence in the National Government.  And Iraqis are optimistic about their future.  That is very, very nice to hear, and we wish them well.



Obama Considering Plans to Make Wounded Veterans Pay for Their Own Medical Care by American Elephant

Obama can find $1.2 trillion dollars to pay off unions, environmentalists and ACORN — he thinks we should pay for health care for the children of people making over $80,000 a year, but thinks paying for the expenses of injuries our soldiers received in the line of duty is just asking too much!

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance. [read more]

I’m inclined to believe this is some lame-brained political stunt to gin up support for nationalized health care, because surely no one could be this stupid?

(h/t Hot Air)



Not everyone has Christmas off by American Elephant
December 25, 2008, 2:43 am
Filed under: Freedom, Military, Religion | Tags: ,

Not everyone can be home for Christmas. Why not take a moment to send a Christmas email to our troops! The peace we do enjoy on Earth is due in no small part to their hard work and sacrifice.



A Very Happy Anniversary! by American Elephant
December 13, 2008, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History, Iraq, Military, News | Tags: , , ,

Five years ago today, Saddam Hussein was captured by US military forces nine miles south of his home town of Tikrit, hiding like a rat in a six- by-four foot hole in the ground.   The announcement (above) was met with jubilant cheers from Iraqi reporters, who leapt from their seats shouting,  “Death to Saddam!” and, “go to hell, Saddam!” Upon hearing the news, Iraqis took to the streets, dancing, honking their horns and firing  shots into the air in celebration.  And they celebrate today, in freedom and very hard-won stability.

War may be hell, but so was life under Saddam’s murderous tyranny. Today, both are over — the latter because of the former.

(h/t Hot Air)



Meanwhile, Victory in Iraq Continues… by American Elephant

While we are all watching the conventions, while the media is busing beating up on 17 year old girls, America’s finest men and women are wrapping up victory in Iraq…

Victory in Anbar… Memo to Barack Obama: Soon you will have nothing left to surrender

On Monday, while Democrats waited to see if Hurricane Gustav would be another Katrina and the GOP juggled its convention schedule, U.S. commanders formally returned responsibility for security in Iraq’s Anbar province to the Iraqi Army and police.

Maybe you missed it. The New York Times Web page had three stories on Bristol Palin. The Washington Post’s online magazine, Slate, is running a “Name Bristol Palin’s Baby” contest. And Us Weekly has “Babies, Lies and Scandal” on its cover.

Victory in Iraq can’t compete in an environment where Bristol’s boyfriend is more thoroughly investigated than Obama’s lifelong association with Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers.  [read more]

General Petraeus: Troops Could Leave Baghdad Soon

General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said declining violence in Baghdad raised the possibility that American combat troops could leave the capital by next summer.

Asked in an interview with the Financial Times whether it was feasible that US combat forces could leave Baghdad by July, he said: “Conditions permitting, yeah.” [read more]

Despite Barack Obama and the Democrats most vigorous efforts to ensure the war and the surge became, in Harry Reid’s and Nancy Pelosi’s words, “a failure” and “lost”, America’s men and women in uniform are returning and will be increasingly returning in victory and with the great honor they so deserve.

And yes, that credit must be shared by John McCain and President George W. Bush. And not one iota of credit will ever go to Barack Obama and the Democrats who would have had us pull out long ago, leaving Iraq and indeed the region embroiled in war and genocide.

And yet they want you to believe they have the “judgment” to lead us in the next unknown crisis.

The success they opposed in Iraq proves they absolutely do not.



Obama Snubs Troops… Again by American Elephant

This time for bodysurfing, Batman and big bucks.

Last Month, Obama refused an invitation to a townhall meeting in Fort Hood Texas for 6,000 veterans, active service members and their families, citing a previously scheduled engagement. That townhall was last night, while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii.

Okay, everybody is entitled to a little down time. Problem is, he is willing to interrupt his vacation for a one million dollar fundraiser, just not for our troops. He refuses to see them when he is campaigning, he refuses to see them when he’s not campaigning.

Just how can a man claim to support the troops if he refuses to talk to them? More importantly, how is he qualified to lead them when he won’t even meet with them?



A visit to Walter Reed… by The Elephant's Child
July 30, 2008, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Iraq, Military, News, Terrorism | Tags: , , , , ,

Barack Obama couldn’t find time to visit the troops at Landstuhl Hospital, which he blames on his desire not to use the troops as a campaign prop; and the military suggests that Obama lost interest when he found out he couldn’t take his campaign aides, advisers and camera crew. I report, you decide.

The wounded veterans at Walter Reed had a visit from Iraq’s interior minister Jawad Karim al-Bolani yesterday. He went to the hosptal’s Military Advanced Training Center and thanked U.S. troops for freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

We have come..to express our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these great warriors, soldiers, in freeing the Iraqi people and in helping us in Iraq recover from tyranny and dictatorship. We also want to express our gratitude to the families of all these great men and women and express how important their sacrifices are for our nation.

Nicely done, sir.



Not exactly a foreign policy you can believe in… by The Elephant's Child

There’s a perennially popular genre of literature which might be called “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”. Small children, in all innocence, give charming answers to questions because they know so little.

Another version is based on the answers that college students write on exam questions. These are more often hilarious in their utter stupidity. The entire genre is based on the fact that we, as educated adults, know the subject well, and they, groping for an answer to a question on which they are poorly informed, make silly mistakes. It is usually enough to remind any adult that a simple “I don’t know” is a wise answer.

There are degrees of knowing about any subject ranging from superficial to mastery, and those who reach true mastery recognize that there is always more to learn. But as the old saying goes: “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

Which brings me to Barack Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times.

The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

Must have seemed like a gift when some news reports claimed that Maliki had called for a timetable for removal of American troops. Obama’s insistence on removing troops was becoming increasingly untenable. He’d just removed all his previous statements on the surge from his website, assuming that voters were unfamiliar with Google.

Unfortunately, that’s not what Maliki said.

The BBC reports that in an audio recording of his speech he did not use the word “withdrawal”. Elections are coming, and Maliki’s speech was directed to that audience. Some Iraqis are anxious for us to leave: Some are fearful that we will not be patient enough with them to allow them enough time to learn how to be a democracy. A US official close to the talks with the Iraqi government said “the troops will leave when the Iraqis are ready to take over. …It is politics — how you package it, how you sell it to your people. They want our support, but they also want to show that there’s progress towards sovereignty.” Obama goes on:

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office.I would give the military a new mission; ending this war.

Sigh. If Obama had been paying attention and keeping informed, he would be aware of the recommended force reductions and mission shift broadcast by General Petraeus during his testimony to Congress in September of 2007. And he might be aware that all of the important benchmarks have been met.

In San Diego, Obama argued that “just because Sen. John McCain had made multiple visits to Iraq, that does not mean that he has the correct perspective on the region”. Well, at least McCain is well informed.

Obama also remarked earlier that he knew more about foreign policy than Senator McCain or George W. Bush because he had lived in Indonesia (from age 6 to age 10).

Obama is still trying to validate his big moment when he opposed the Iraq War while he was still in the Illinois legislature, which endears him to the anti-war crowd. He didn’t understand the reasons for going into Iraq. He didn’t understand the reasons for the surge. He doesn’t grasp the nature of Islamic jihad. And he has apparently never studied a map of the region. Along with announcing how many brigades he’s going to move around, he’s now attempting to push the tired old Democrat spin that the real war is only in Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden.

I find this endlessly fascinating. How do the Democrats do it? Do they all get together in a meeting and someone says — “I know, let’s say that the war isn’t in Iraq, that we’re really supposed to be chasing Osama in Afghanistan. I’ll bet we can get away with that.” Or perhaps they get a memo from MoveOn.org with the talking points, which they circulate, because they all say the same thing in the same words. Do they have rehearsals?

And how do they all manage to forget the same things at the same time?

Obama is going to great lengths to appear “presidential”. There are the sets designed to look like a presidential press conference, the array of flags in photographs, and of course, his “presidential seal” (quickly disposed of when it evoked more humor than awe). There’s the decision to deliver his acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver rather than at the convention site. Obama says he wants to give the common folk more “access” to the process. Uh huh. Visions of Leni Riefenstahl.  Do you think there will be torches?

And then a demand to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate like Presidents Kennedy and Reagan (he might wait until he’s actually a president, and it is usual for those things to be arranged quietly behind the scenes). German officials were not too keen on allowing their historic spot to be used as a prop for a candidate. It puts the German government in the awkward position of appearing to favor one candidate.

Obama’s now backed off on that, but seems unaware of the foreign policy gaffes he is making, or the problems he is creating. The rewriting of NAFTA created big problems with Mexico and Canada, opposing a free trade agreement with Columbia, invading Pakistan, the embarrassing Jerusalem gaffe all presented foreign policy problems that had to be soothed. And his pronouncements on getting out of Iraq aren’t going down too well in Europe.

On his upcoming trip abroad, he is making it clear that he isn’t going to Iraq or Afghanistan to learn, but to enhance his image. It’s (as usual) all about him. With a crew of star liberal TV anchors along to interview him at significant sites (looking presidential) he expects to raise his foreign policy qualifications. Oh, so that’s how it’s done.

Let me be clear. People may differ on the war. People may be opposed to the war, but if they are going to make pronouncements about the war, then they need to know what they are talking about. For Obama, this is a problem, and it is a problem for America. He does say the darnedest things, but it’s not funny.



Is The Iraq War Over? by The Elephant's Child

From Michael Yon, outstanding correspondent:

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What’s left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it’s time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over.

From Abe Greenwald, at Commentary’s blog, Contentions:

The corkscrew landing is a rite of passage for travelers to Iraq, who feel the pull of gravity as their airplane make a rapid, spiraling descent to avoid ground fire.

So it was a surprise to one periodic visitor last week when the Royal Jordanian Airlines aircraft from Amman descended into Baghdad International Airport with the same lack of drama as any commuter flight anywhere. No sudden plunge, no tight rotation, no straightening out the flight path just before the runway.

It didn’t feel like flying into a war zone anymore.

And another example:

Alcohol is openly for sale once more in Baghdad. All over the Iraqi capital, drink stores, which closed their doors in early 2006 when sectarian strife was raging, have slowly begin to reopen. Two years ago, al-Qa’ida militants were burning down liquor stores and shooting their owners. Now around Saadoun Street, in the centre of the city, at least 50 stores are advertising that they have alcohol for sale.

The fear of being seen drinking in public is also subsiding.,. Young men openly drink beer in some, if not all, streets. A favourite spot where drinkers traditionally gathered is al-Jadriya bridge, which has fine views up and down the Tigris river. Two years ago even serious drunks decided that boozing on the bridge was too dangerous. But in the past three months they have returned, a sign that militant gunmen no longer decide what people in Baghdad do at night.

An excerpt from a correspondent on active duty in Iraq on David Frum’s Diary at NRO:

Best experience of my life, even for the days when I was praying pretty hard.

Have a lot of folks over here that, believe me, will, I think, remember the US the way that (the immediate) post-war Germans and French remembered us.

Hope so, anyway. They’re good people. Been through quite a bit (understatement of the last three decades). Still, trying to work things out and I think (hope) they can and will.

Anecdotal, but indicative.




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