American Elephants


The Boston Manhunt is Over. by The Elephant's Child

A natural characteristic of human nature is plain old curiosity. Whenever there is something unusual going on, people want to see. Looky-loos they call them. This has been the case in Boston, and it takes a real scare to get people back into their homes with the doors locked. Yet the rest of the country has been attached to radio and Twitter to follow the dramatic search.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been captured. His older brother, 26-year-old Tammerlan Tsarnaev is dead. Dzhokhar, pronounced Jho-har, 19-years-old, had been hiding in a boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, just outside the city. Police approached him cautiously, worried that he might be wearing a suicide bomb vest. Three other people have been taken into custody, nothing known about who they are or why they are in custody.

Lots of information and pictures at the boston.com website, which has had very full coverage. The older brother had apparently become radicalized several years ago and a relative had warned the younger brother repeatedly about the bad influence of his older brother. Photos at the website include one of police massing in armor around a couple of MRAP vehicles ready to do a house-to-house search that is pretty scary. You can hardly imagine being a young man on the run with that show of force after you.  Sounds like the police performed spectacularly and did a remarkable job of keeping the public safe.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in a hospital in serious condition. These two young men seemed to have everything going for them. The older one was hoping to compete in the Olympics in boxing. Good students, getting good educations. The younger brother was an outstanding wrestler.



Political Correctness Gone Rogue by The Elephant's Child

Three years after a man with ties to Islamic radical groups killed twelve people while screaming “Allahu Akbar” over and over at the Fort Hood Army Base, the incident is classified as “workplace violence.” You might classify this one as a cover-up as well; it is at the very least, political correctness gone amok.

Major Nidal Hassan was a U.S. Army psychiatrist scheduled to be deployed. He was a loner, and increasingly under the influence of al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. His superiors were increasingly aware of his odd behavior and Muslim radicalism. But no one did anything about it. The Obama administration has been reluctant to call any incident “terrorism.” Homeland Security has played around with other designations — “violent extremist” seems to be the most popular at the moment. That is a term they are still using for events at Benghazi.

The failure to recognize Islamic terrorism is rooted in a desire to avoid saying anything that would alienate Moslems. Islam, everyone keeps repeating, is a religion of peace. But there are Islamic terrorists and they do have an agenda. Refusing to call it by its correct name is simply a failure to recognize the agenda of those “violent extremists.”

The inaccurate designation of the incident as “workplace violence” is meant to suggest that it is just an ordinary “going postal” situation that could happen anywhere, and don’t even think of blaming Hassan’s superiors for not noticing that he was a danger to everyone around him.

The “workplace violence” designation also deprives Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning, who was shot six times during the attack, of the disability compensation that other wounded service members receive, and eligibility for Purple Hearts or medals for valor. And the twelve dead soldiers are deprived of the recognition they deserve.

Some members of Congress are fighting the classification, but it has not yet been enough. The constant avoidance of not just the designation, but the reality of terrorism, is just wrong and distorts Americans’ understanding of their own nation’s foreign policy.

Heritage’s James Carafano wrote earlier this month:

Clearly, acknowledging that terrorism is alive and well looks bad for the Obama Administration’s rhetoric, which has portrayed Obama as having vanquished Osama bin Laden and thus ending the “war on terrorism.

Playing politics with terrorist incidents and indulging in cover-ups to prevent public knowledge is more than unbecoming, it is dishonest, and unworthy of the office.



Fox News’ Authoritative Timeline of Events in Benghazi by The Elephant's Child

Politics, statecraft, avoidance, security, cover-ups, falsehoods and the word that must never be uttered — terrorism. The raid that killed bin Laden was to be the great accomplishment of Obama’s first term. With bin Laden’s death and the president’s “kill list” for drone strikes, the administration has assumed that al Qaeda was greatly diminished and no longer a major concern.

But that isn’t true. The widely heralded “Arab Spring” was not a matter of the Arab states of North Africa suddenly deciding that they wanted to be peaceful democracies. That delusion has done incalculable damage. Governments make mistakes, misread events, and fail to understand movements, History bears witness to error.

But real lives are at stake, international  perceptions of weakness or strength. Hauling the maker of the video that nobody watched in on a “parole violation,” and sticking him in solitary confinement where he remains a month and a half later, is not just a” coincidence.” Somebody managed to get a drone over Benghazi quickly enough to monitor at least part of the attack.This was not a “bump in the road” nor can the death of an American ambassador in thirty years, his aide and two former SEALS be described callously as “not optimum.”

I rely a lot on the DiploMad 2.0 whom I have been following since the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami on the day after Christmas in 2004.  He reported from Banda Aceh as the rescue efforts began, with a clear voice that we didn’t get from the media. He is since retired, but writes about these things from long experience in some of the world’s tougher spots —”hard countries,” he calls them. His comments are an important addition to the video.

Fox News has consistently and accurately covered this scandal.



A Happy Little Terrorism Story: by The Elephant's Child
June 4, 2011, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Islam, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

At National Review Online, Daniel Foster notes that British Intelligence still has a sense of humor:

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s spy agencies have a new message for terrorists: make cupcakes, not war.

Intelligence agents managed to hack into the extremist Inspire magazine, replacing its bombmaking instructions with a recipe for cupcakes.

It’s the first time the agents sabotaged the English-language magazine linked to U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist accused in several recent terror plots.

The quarterly online magazine, which is sent to websites and email addresses as a pdf file, had offered an original page titled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” in one of its editions last year. The magazine’s pages were corrupted, however, and the instructions replaced with the cupcake recipe.

“We’re increasingly using cybertools as part of our work,” a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters said Friday, confirming that the Inspire magazine had been successfully attacked.

The hackers were reportedly working for Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, which has boosted its resources in the past several years.



Visas and Immigration: The Story of Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber. by The Elephant's Child

Here’s the story of the Times Square Bomber — Faisal Shahzad, and how he became an immigrant to the United States and a naturalized citizen.  It reveals some of the risks inherent in U.S. visa and immigration programs.

It is a familiar pattern of  a terrorist easily taking advantage of weak spots in America’s immigration system.  He was admitted long before 9/11, but the openings that  he exploited are still in place today.

  • June 30, 1979 — born in Pakistan
  • December 22, 1998 — issued student visa in Islamabad. Shahzad failed to demonstrate that he had “sufficient academic preparation to pursue the intended course of study” at the University of Bridgeport.  Applying as a transfer student with a transcript from a correspondence course with Southeastern University (now defunct) with a GPA of 2.78. Visa was a mistake, but visa officer gave him 4 year visa when 2 should have been given.  lightweight background check, no criminal history. (today’s watchlists and databases are more comprehensive).
  • Fall 2000 — Graduates from University of Bridgeport, Conn. Shahzad was flagged by border officials for carrying large sums of cash — reportedly $80,000 — and for repeated visits home to Pakistan.  Was awarded a grant from Bridgeport U. for $6,700 to cover tuition.
  • 2001 — begins working for a temporary staffing agency.  A student visa does not include permission to work.
  • 2002 — Issued H-1B visa.  Sponsored by Elizabeth Arden to work in a low level accounting job.
  • 2004 — Obtains mortgage with Huma Anif Mian (U.S. Citizen and future spouse)
  • 2004 — Comes under scrutiny of Joint Terrorism Task Force. Local, multi-agency units that investigate cases related to national security.
  • February 2005 — Citizen wife files green card petition. Neighbors of Shahzad’s bride have told reporters that he visited her in Colorado just once before she left to marry him.
  • January 2006 —Green card approved. USCIS apparently unconcerned about suddenness of marriage or JTTF investigation. (Basic reality —green card application process rigged in alien’s favor. Few applications are refused or challenged).
  • October 2008 — Applies for citizenship. Shahzad wasted no time. Can apply after 3 years of  marriage to U.S. Citizen, compared with 5 years of residency for other legal immigrants.  Average immigrant waits 6 to 10 years before applying.  His US citizenship makes travel abroad easier since US citizens face less scrutiny, and citizens can stay overseas indefinitely without losing status.  Citizenship did not require Shahzad to give up his Pakistani passport which can be useful in concealing long periods of travel without drawing attention on return.
  • April 17, 2009 — Sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
  • June 2, 2009 — Departs for Pakistan.
  • February 3, 2010 — Returns to United States.
  • May 1, 2010 — Attempts to set off a car bomb in Times Square.

An interesting history, to say the least.  I abbreviated slightly this list from the Center for Immigration Studies.  The complete list is available from the Center,  along with seven policy recommendations to enhance the integrity of the system , make it more difficult for illegitimate visitors to gain access, and limit the risk inherent in every visa or immigration program.

This would reinforce the public diplomacy goals of the student visa program — that foreign students put their U.S. education and positive experience in America to good use back home, and strengthen ties between the two nations.  See also David Horowitz’s experience at University of California at San Diego.



Even if Khamenei Has Beaten the Demonstrators Back, It’s Not Over. by The Elephant's Child

It is baffling to consider President Obama’s vapid reaction to the uprising in Iran.  Even Congress was a embarrassed and pressed him to condemn the Iranian government’s response to the insurgents.  Both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn the actions by the Iranian government against demonstrators and moves to shut down the internet and cell phone communications.

The Iranian regime is a nuclear-obsessed tyranny that has threatened regularly to exterminate Israel and  to re-establish a world-wide Caliphate including American soil.  Gosh, if we respond firmly, we might be accused of interfering, or imperialism.  Oh, wait, they already did.  The cry from Iran is always “Death to America.”  If we were firm, who knows what the Iranian government  might say.  And the Europeans and the media, what would they say?  And why would we care?

Why is it necessary after 230 years to remind anyone in our own government that Americans stand for liberty?  We have a principled stand for freedom, democracy, free and fair elections and human rights.  It was true in 1776, when a good many Americans put their lives on the line, and over and over again.  It has been true in many parts of the world: in the Philippines, in France, in Berlin and Poland, in Kosovo and Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.  On Friday, President Obama spoke up to say that the huge demonstrations all over Iran “are not something that has to do with the outside world.” Yes, that’s why so many of the signs that the brave, unarmed protesters carried were in English.

Obama did call, Saturday, on the Iranian government to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.”  He is supposedly trying to preserve the possibility of  negotiating directly with the Iranian government over its nuclear program, its links to terrorism and presumably its interference in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East.  The Iranian government has said it has no interest in meeting with President Obama, but hope, as they say, springs eternal.

Victor Davis Hanson has some wise suggestions for Obama, and some possible answers as to why Obama  is avoiding the opportunities for supporting freedom that this rebellion has offered.



Did Obama Learn Nothing from 9/11? by The Elephant's Child

Obama made a big deal during the campaign about Guantanamo. He thought he had an issue that would get him votes.  On his second day in office, he signed an executive order that Guantanamo would be closed within a year.  At the time, he had not visited Guantanamo, and I would venture, though I don’t know, that he has never met anyone who has visited Guantanamo.  It was simply another bold step in his campaign to defeat George W. Bush for the Presidency.

The problem was that he had no idea what to do with the detainees.  None.  The “outrage” about Guantanamo comes from the detainees, who were trained to tell anyone they could that they were abused and the guards really, really mistreated them.

Osama bin Laden is many things, but he’s not a dummy.  Even in the remote villages of Afghanistan, they know that the Americans are ever-so-sensitive to charges of abuse.  Everyone who visits (except the radical lawyers representing detainees) comments on what a model prison it is, and the honorable treatment by the staff in spite of constant provocation.  Treatment of detainees meets the standards of the Geneva Conventions, just as  George W. Bush ordered long ago.

Under the new “Global Justice” Initiative, the FBI will now have a central role in global counter-terrorism operations. The FBI seemingly doesn’t have enough on their plate with ordinary federal crime and desperately trying to track down domestic terrorists and foil their plots.  The role of the CIA and other intelligence agencies will diminish.  I mean, who knows what the evil CIA has been up to?

FBI agents will expand their questioning of suspects and evidence-gathering to try to insure that criminal prosecutions are an option. Does no one realize that 9/11 was a failure of our reliance on the criminal justice system? And is it really a good idea for terrorists to have “the right to remain silent?”

The administration has decided to change the focus to law enforcement.  The Justice Department  has quietly ordered FBI agents to start giving Miranda warnings to captured alien combatant terrorists.

You’ve heard them hundreds of times on TV.  “You have the right to remain silent…”  They are doing this to insure that captured terrorists can be prosecuted in court. But this does not guarantee that they can be convicted, and if they are not convicted — what then?  Are they released into the United States? Or if not, where? Back to the battlefield to kill American soldiers?

ABC  News’ Jake Tapper asked about that.  Will the Obama administration free Ahmed Ghailani (the first terrorist brought to the US to be tried) if he is found not guilty?  He asked it several times in yesterday’s press conference, but Robert Gibbs said “he wasn’t going to get into hypotheticals about how something may or may not play out.”

This has to be embarrassing for President Obama. Candidate Obama and new President Obama scoffed at claims that he wanted foreign terrorists to get Miranda protection on capture.  You can find him saying so on YouTube.  The confusion about what are military matters and what are legal matters is forcing Obama into an awkward corner.  He wants to be sure that he appears more, um, pristine than President Bush and Darth Vader who tortured everybody, you know.  If he cannot continue to remind everyone of how evil BushCheneyRumsfeld were, then people might not hate Republicans enough to reelect him.

Minor matters like protecting the American people no longer seem so important.  With Bush out of the picture, then there won’t be any more terrorism, for surely young Muslim men flocked to bin Laden training camps only because they were radicalized by all the torture Bush did, or something like that.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, a former FBI special agent and U.S. Army officer says the Obama administration has not briefed Congress on the new policy. He said “The problem is you take that guy at three in the morning off of a compound right outside of Kabul where he’s building bomb materials to kill US soldiers, and read him his rights by four, and the Red Cross is saying take the lawyer — you have now created quite a confusion amongst the FBI, the CIA and the United States military.  And confusion is the last thing you want in a combat zone.”

The Democrats’ story has long been (once 9/11 began to fade) that there wasn’t really any danger from terrorism,  it was just the Republicans trying to scare us.   But they have never been much interested in consequences.



This is Real Life, Not a Movie! by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2009, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Law, Military, National Security, Politics | Tags: ,

The Obama administration is repeating the national security mistakes of the Clinton Administration.  Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombing and knows what he is talking about, writes at National Review Online:

On Thursday, Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles Times broke the story that the FBI is edging the CIA out of the business of fighting international terrorism.  Under the bureau”s “global justice initiative, Meyer reported that “FBI agents will have a central role in overseas counter-terrorism cases.  They will expand their questioning of suspects and evidence-gathering to try to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option.”  Who needs a War on Terror, or even an “overseas contingency operation,” when all the world”s a crime scene?

If you’re thinking, “Hey, we’ve seen this movie before,” you”re right.  Slowly but surely, it’s September 10 again, a retreat into Clinton-era counterterrorism, when radical Islam prosecuted a war while we tried to prosecute radical Islam in court, playing cops-and-robbers while jihadists played for keeps.

Do read the whole article.  Dick Cheney was right.  The Obama administration is weak on national security, and our enemies have noticed.

The administration’s problem is an inability to recognize the difference between a criminal matter and a military matter.  They are not the same.  Obama is not much interested in foreign affairs, and it shows.  As Andy McCarthy says, “Yes, we’ve seen this movie before.  And we know how it ends.”



Vice President Cheney Gave a Splendid Speech at AEI on Thursday. Here It Is. by The Elephant's Child
May 23, 2009, 12:23 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Middle East, National Security | Tags: , ,

With an uncooperative Congress refusing to appropriate funds to close Guantanamo, President Obama didn’t really want to make a national security speech. But he was being criticized by both Democrats and Republicans who believe that bringing the “worst of the worst” detainees from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay to the United States for trial and imprisonment is a bad idea. Obama really doesn’t like criticism.

And then there is Dick Cheney — Mr. Gravitas himself.  Democrats have for years  attempted to portray him as Darth Vader, but it simply doesn’t work.  Vice President Cheney is above all a patriot, and concerned for the welfare of his country.  He has served in government in many administrations with great distinction.  He is no longer in office, he has nothing to gain from speaking publicly, no favor to seek, no elections to win or lose.  He is a private citizen with vast experience who wished the present administration success in the current troubled world.  He does not criticize President Obama, but merely explains why, in the Bush administration, they made the policy decisions that they did.  It was a splendid speech and deeply illuminating, the actions that they took carefully explained.

Well.  The usual suspects (who probably didn’t either hear or read the speech) were immediately out there foaming at the mouth, calling Mr. Cheney all the usual names.

President Obama’s speech was surprisingly defensive, and deeply dishonest.  But one wonders why Obama feels it necessary to constantly denounce his predecessor, who was extremely gracious to him, helping him to meet all the living presidents in private and ask their advice, making the transition easy and comfortable.  I guess Obama is just another far-left sufferer from BDS.  But the campaign is over.  Bush has returned to private life, and Bush is not responsible for the financial problems.  It’s time for Obama to take responsibility for his own actions, and deal with the problems that he finds on his plate, without whining, as all past presidents have had to do.

The necessity for closing Guantanamo is a mystery.  So the French don’t like it — so what? If Gitmo, a state-of-the-art facility, is reduced to rubble and all detainees incarcerated in our maximum security prison, the French still won’t commit any more troops to Afghanistan, take any more of our prisoners, or commit any more funds.  They don’t care about Guantanamo at all; it’s only the usual European demagoguery.

Attorney General Holder was in Europe recently trying to get European governments to accept some of our detainees.  He was addressing a group of journalists, professors and others, and someone in the audience asked “Why can’t you just put the innocent ones in a hotel?” As if there were innocents there.

This demonstrates the problem. Those who have some foggy idea that the Iraq War was “unnecessary”, that our policies “created” terrorists, and why did we have to mess with Saddam anyway, are so far from grasping the basic nature of the problem that it is perhaps impossible to explain.  Obama is beginning to grasp the nature of the detainees and to understand that there are some that, although vicious and dangerous, have not officially committed a crime.  They are military prisoners, detained because in an ongoing war they cannot be returned to the battlefield to kill Americans.  Of those already released, one in seven has returned to fighting with al Qaeda.

A lot of thought and study went into the construction of the facility at Gitmo. A lot of propaganda effort by those opposed to the war went into an attempt to make it appear as something evil.  So re-brand it.  Change the name.  If we can continue the war by calling it an “overseas contingency operation”, then call the detention center  the Caribbean Detainee Resort, The Reeducation College for Contingency Guests.  Suggestions are welcome.  No prizes.

Here is Vice President Cheney, plain-spoken, honest and full of gravitas:



The West Coast Plot and “criminal prosecutions:” A study in political inexperience. by The Elephant's Child

Click to view full size

(click image to view full size)

“The Obama administration is confused.” writes Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

The president says harsh interrogation techniques “do not make us safer,” but his top intelligence adviser says the same techniques produced “high-value information” that gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.

Obama White House officials routinely boast that theirs is “the most transparent administration in history,” but then they release Justice Department memos about the interrogations in which the assessments confirming the value of those techniques are blacked out.

Attorney General Eric Holder tells a congressional committee that he is unaware of memos about the information gleaned in harsh interrogations that have been requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney, but his boss, the president, not only knows about those memos but also describes their contents to members of Congress.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration could support an independent investigation of interrogation techniques based on the 9/11 Commission.  Then he says that Obama decided long ago that such an investigation would be too political.

In the National Journal Stuart Taylor Jr. says “The review should start by taking seriously the views of the people with the most-detailed knowledge.  They say that the coercive interrogation program was highly effective.

Michael Hayden, Bush’s last CIA director and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote, “As late as 2006, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Former CIA Director George Tenent has said,”I know that this program has saved lives.  I know we’ve disrupted plots.  I know this program is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, “We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”

Marc Thiessen notes that: Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’

to use East Asian East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.  The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to  the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave’.”In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.

“Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States” says Stephen Hayes,

believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.

That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day.  But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations — in effect, that they worked — were taken out of Blair’s public statement. …

The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policy makers and to members of Congress and received permission granted by “members of Congress” — permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.

Dick Cheney: “This is the first time that I can recall that we’ve had an administration come in, take power, and then suggest using the power of the government against their predecessors, from a legal standpoint.  Criminal prosecution of lawyers in the Justice Department whose opinions they disagreed with on an impor”crimitant issue.  Criminal prosecutions.  When was the last time that happened?”

Porter J. Goss, former CIA director: “Since leaving my post as CIA director almost three years ago, I have remained largely silent on the public stage. I am speaking out now because I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage.  We can’t have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets.”

It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.  In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.

  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
  • On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

Should the winner of a  presidential election attempt to use the enormous powers of his office to investigate and prosecute his political adversaries? Will this begin a cycle of retribution in which policy disputes are to be criminalized?   And will this tear the country apart?



Thinking about scary things, and about thinking. by The Elephant's Child
February 16, 2009, 10:16 pm
Filed under: History, Military, Movies, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

People approach events differently.  Some lean into a crisis, want to know all about it.  Others dissemble.  If it is scary, they don’t want any part of it.

For example, take war movies.  Some people don’t want to see anything that contains violence.  Others want to know as much as they can about an event, even as it is not very accurately portrayed in a movie where there is no real blood or real bullets.

Supposedly it is women who don’t want to see, hear, or think about violence.  I don’t know if that is true, though I know it to be true for many of my friends.  I assume that is where the “chick flick” vs. “war movie” division between men and women came about. But then I’ve heard “eeuw, gross!”  from plenty of guys as well.

That goes for other worrisome things as well, such as economic crisis, natural disasters and politics.

I have always been of the former kind.  I read military history, read everything I can find about the current economic crisis and the stimulus bill, am afraid of neither spiders or snakes, and am decidedly female.  Are little girls taught by their mothers to jump on a chair and say “eek!” at spiders or mice?  My mother was much like I am, though I don’t know about the war movie part.  Perhaps I am just more my father’s daughter.

My bookshelves are a testament to those interests. The Rape of Nanking, Survival in Auschwitz, The Battle Cry of Freedom, Saratoga, A Soldier’s Tale, House to House, With the Old Breed, or Black Hawk Down, for example.  Probably my all-time favorite books have been Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin series of 20 books on the Royal Navy in the 1700s.  I have read them over and over, as have many historians, and recommend them to anyone who likes to read.  But the 18th century in the Royal Navy was decidedly bloody.

I have always known from the pictures of refugees streaming from the cities and bombs of World War II, that that could be me.  That the unexpected could happen. Yet I suspect most people don’t think like that.

I also believe that many people simply do not want to know about the Stimulus Bill, what it contains, or what it portends for the country.  I have been shocked at members of Congress and their aides who did not read the bill that they voted for.

There are columns by college professors concerned because their students don’t read, and suggestions that television, the internet and new media like Facebook, Twitter and Kindle are changing Americans’ relationship with words and understanding.

How about you?  Do you fear or enjoy violence?  Snakes and spiders?  Are these things related?  Do you want to know everything you can about a problem or would you prefer not to know if you feel that you can’t do anything about it?  War movies, chick flicks?  What is learned and what is innate?  And does thinking or reading about frightening things or big crises prepare you a little better for actual things that happen?



A fortnight is 14 days, two weeks. Not very long at all. by The Elephant's Child
February 4, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, News, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

Months before his election, Mr. Obama apparently started to cultivate improved relations with the mullahs of Iran.  A senior campaign adviser, former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry met repeatedly with a representative of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (The Holocaust-denying, genocide supporting “gentleman”).

According to Frank Gafney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke has hired as a senior adviser Professor Vali Reza Nasr — an Iranian expatriate with a record of shilling for the Islamic Revolutionary Iranian regime.

According to GeostrategyDirect.com, a newsletter published by The Washington Times national security reporter Bill Gertz:

“Diplomatic sources said that Barack Obama has engaged several Arab intermediaries to relay messages to and from as Qaeda in the months before his election as the 44th U.S. President.  The sources said al Qaeda has offered what they termed a truce in exchange for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.  ‘For the last few months, Obama has been receiving and sending feelers to those close to al Qaeda on whether the group would end its terrorist campaign against the United States,’ a diplomatic source said. ‘Obama sees this as helpful to his plans to essentially withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first term in office.’”

President Obama’s first post-inaugural interview was with Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned network.  He said he was determined to “restore” the “same respect and partnership America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”

Shades of the Dixie Chicks.  Charles Krauthammer pointed out that over the past 20 years:

America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. … It is both false and injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.

It’s unclear just what President Obama hopes to accomplish with his ‘good intentions.’ Islamists are not alone in interpreting it as weakness.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,505 other followers

%d bloggers like this: