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: , ,


Vladimir Putin, A-Point-of-View Documentary by The Elephant's Child
March 9, 2014, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,


CBC’s “The Passionate Eye” presents The Putin System – a point-of-view documentary that presents an ominous view of what Putin is willing to do to ensure Russia regains its position on the world stage. (2012)

The Putin System chronicles the remarkable life of Putin, a tough, young leader who is not afraid to make harsh decisions and holds a secret purpose-to restore the old Russia of his dreams.

The Putin System is directed by Jean-Michel Carré in association with Jill Emery for the French production company Les Films Grain De Sable.



Naivety And Incomprehension: What Happened to The Working Relationship? by The Elephant's Child

lead

Vladimir Putin just pitched the post Cold War rule-book out the window, and the European countries are understandably nervous. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement that he wants to downsize the military to the size it was before World War II, may go down in history as the most inappropriate announcement ever made by a cabinet member.

The White House spin machine is telling friendly reporters that Vladimir Putin has fallen into a trap,  which may be carrying the idea of “spin” a little too far. Walter Russell Mead said “Putin is increasingly likely to go down in history as a failed state builder, a man who took Russia down the wrong path and who added to the burden of Russian history.”

But those are long term considerations that, unfortunately for the diligent White House staffers working to spin the next news cycle, won’t help the President now.  In the short term President Putin has put President Obama in an ugly spot. President Obama’s foreign policy depends on three big ideas: that a working relationship with Russia can help the United States stabilize the Middle East, that a number of American adversaries are willing to settle their differences with us on the basis of compromises that we can accept, and that President Obama has the smarts to know who we can trust.

Putin’s attack on Ukraine calls all three propositions into question. What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives. This is not necessarily irrational behavior from their point of view; American power is not a good thing if you hate the post-Cold War status quo, and it can make sense to sacrifice the advantages of a particular compromise with the United States if as a result you can reduce America’s ability to interfere with your broader goals.

Washington’s flat-footed, deer-in-the-headlights incomprehension about Russia’s Crimean adventure undermines President Obama’s broader credibility in a deeply damaging way. If he could be this blind and misguided about Vladimir Putin, how smart is he about the Ayatollah Khameni, a much more difficult figure to read? President Obama is about to have a difficult meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he will tell Netanyahu essentially that Israel should ground its national security policy on the wisdom of President Obama and his profound grasp of the forces of history. The effect will be somewhat undermined by President Obama’s failure to understand the most elementary things about Vladimir Putin.

Foreign policy is harder than it looks, and Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team is not an impressive bunch. Will the American public see this as just another case of difficult foreigners doing bad things in some little-known country, or will they see this as  clear evidence that this president is too naive and too passive and he is endangering the country?

Secretary Kerry said huffily on Face the Nation: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country. That’s not the act of somebody who’s strong, Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”

It’s easier to threaten friends. They probably won’t do anything. Obama said essentially that if Israel wouldn’t agree to the U.S. idea of a peace deal with the Palestinians, then the U.S. won’t be able to defend Israel if the peace talks fail. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which began last July, have made no visible progress. Palestine refuses to recognize the right of the Israeli state to exist, won’t stop shooting rockets into Israel, continues to teach its small children that martyrdom in the interest of killing Jews is a holy aim, and insists of the ‘right of return.’ Obama’s ideas about Israel were likely formed by his friendship with the radical Palestinian professor Rashid Khalidi. He does not change his mind.



Resemblances. It’s Said That Everyone Has a Twin. by The Elephant's Child
September 20, 2013, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Humor, News of the Weird, Russia | Tags: , ,

putindog

We are all fascinated with human resemblances. It is said that we all have a twin somewhere. Many years ago, I had left our home and business with some friends heading for a mountain picnic. Someone about my age walked in to our business about twenty minutes later, and at first my parents thought it was me — returning. My parents would not be impressed by an unlikely resemblance.

A friend from Fort Worth told me she was always being stopped on the street by strangers who were sure she was someone else and offended when she cut them dead, although she didn’t know them at all. She never met her “twin,” who apparently existed in the same city.

That said, the internet often features posts with people who are supposed to look very much alike, but don’t really. On the other hand, this is a pretty remarkable resemblance. The gentleman on the left you will recognize. The dog was discovered by a man from the Ukraine in Kiev, and the picture of the two was published on the front page of the Moscow Times. We do not know if the man on the left was amused.

(h/t: Vanderleun)



Obama v. Putin. It’s Not a Fair Fight. by The Elephant's Child

aaaobamaputinSaid Rudy Giuliani :

“Who would you
give greater odds
would catch
a fugitive,
a former KGB agent
or a former
community
organizer?..

Obama doesn’t
know how to
play this game.
This is why,
I wasn’t kidding,
this is an
experienced
manipulator
of intelligence,
of world power,
against a man
who has extremely
not very
well-developed
views and
no experience
doing this,”
Giuliani said.

“This is the price
we pay for
voting for an
inexperienced
president. …
This is incompetence
because we
elected a president
who was never
prepared
to be president,
and he
hasn’t figured
the job out
yet.

 

(h/t: Vanderleun)



Operation “Hot Mic” by The Elephant's Child

Surprise, surprise, Vladimir lied….. by The Elephant's Child

You thought all that talk about a cease fire could be believed, didn’t you? Some of us have longer experience with the Russians than others. The idea that Russia, while the world was watching the Olympics, just suddenly needed to respond to a “provocation” by Georgia’s elected president, with a fully organized two division military force, tanks, warplanes, warships, and two divisions of soldiers. As Canadian David Warren said:

The notion that Russia — whose land area makes her by far the planet’s largest single state — could be threatened by a neighbour 1/245th her size, should not be confused with paranoia.

In spite of changing titles, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, strongman of Russia, remains in charge. As a former KGB officer, he has long been schooled in Communist power politics. Russia has been meddling in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for years. Russia’s thin pretense of protecting an ethnic group from “ethnic cleansing” provided cover for Georgia’s timid friends in the West to ignore Russia’s adventures. Melik Kaylan explains, in the Wall Street Journal, some of Russia’s strategic plans.

Having overestimated the power of the Soviet Union in its last years, we have consistently underestimated the ambitions of Russia since. Already, a great deal has been said about the implications of Russia’s invasion for Ukraine, the Baltic States and Europe generally. But few have noticed the direct strategic threat of Moscow’s action to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Kremlin is not about to reignite the Cold War for the love of a few thousand Ossetians or even for its animosity toward five million Georgians. This is calculated strategic maneuvering. And make no mistake, it’s about countering U.S. power at its furthest stretch with Moscow’s power very close to home…
Between Russia and Iran, in the lower Caucasus, sits a small wedge of independent soil — namely, the soil of Azerbaijan and Georgia combined. Through those two countries runs the immensely important Bakuk-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which delivers precious oil circuitously from Azerbaijan to Turkey and out to the world. …It says to the world that if any former Moscow colonies wish to sell their wares to the West diectly, they have a right to do so, and the West will support that right.

John McCain understood the situation immediately as a case of Russian aggression, and spoke out forcefully. McCain knows Georgia well, quickly grasped the strategic situation, and spoke to President Saakashvili who he has know for many years.

Susan Rice, most prominent of Obama’s 300 foreign policy advisers, quickly accused McCain of “shooting from the hip”, and said that a more “measured response” would be more appropriate. Susan Rice has emphasized that Barack Obama clearly has more foreign policy expertise because he actually lived abroad from age 6 to age 10. A measured response seems to be talking and consulting the expertise of the U.N.

Leaders of the other former Soviet controlled states have quickly called for Russia to back off and offered their support to Georgia. President Bush has sent humanitarian supplies and medical aid. His statement is here. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on the way to Georgia. The situation is fluid.




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