American Elephants


Andrew Klavan on The Culture, Especially for New Graduates. by The Elephant's Child
June 2, 2009, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Politics, Pop Culture

I love these brief videos that Andrew Klavan does at Pajamas Media, and I hope you do too. He tackles some of the basics with humor and good sense.



Barack Obama and the Islamic World. by The Elephant's Child
June 2, 2009, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Politics

President Barack Obama is blind to his blunders over Islam, says Amir Taheri in the London Times. Taheri is an Iranian born journalist and commentator on Islamic affairs whose writings on the Middle East have been invaluable.

Obama’s long-promised big speech to the Islamic countries, in Cairo, is upcoming.  President Obama has often suggested that his childhood years of living in Indonesia from the age of 6 to 10,  have given him remarkable understanding of the Islamic world.

He has scrapped George W. Bush’s policy of encouraging  traditional Arab states to adopt constitutions, hold elections, grant women the vote, ease restrictions on the media and allow more room for debate and dissent.  That course “changed the U.S. from a supporter of the status-quo to an active agent of change.”

Mr. Obama has returned to “political realism” — in the Beltway phrase.  Rather than try to change anything, Western powers should try to maintain stability. But the Middle East is and remains unstable, with coups d’etat, wars, revolution. civil wars and terrorism afflicting ordinary life.  As Mr. Taheri points out:

In trying to prove that he is not George Bush,  Barack Obama has committed big mistakes on key issues of foreign policy.  His Cairo address, and his “one-size-fits-all” Islam policy, is just the latest.  It encourages Islamists and ruling despots, discourages the force of reform and change and, ultimately, could produce greater resentment of the United States among peoples thirsting for freedom, human rights and decent governance.

Do read the whole article, I do not do it justice here.  We will see whether the address to the Islamic countries is just another stop on the Apology Tour, or something else.

President Obama said today that if Iran is pursuing nuclear energy for it’s legitimate need for electricity, that is their right. [ But they always say it’s just to produce electricity, don’t they?]



Guantanamo is Far More Complicated Than You Would Think. by The Elephant's Child

In his second day in office, Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within one year.  He had no idea what to do with the 241 inmates who are usually described as “the worst of the worst.” He is determined to close the facility because he believes that the world disapproves, and that closing it will somehow improve our image in the world.  He apparently feels that prisoners can be brought to the United States,  and prosecuted in the criminal justice system.

But as historian Arthur Herman explains in a brilliant  history of the facility:

Gitmo was never meant to be a prison where inmates were to serve sentences for crimes.  It was, in the words of a Defense Department document, a detention facility set up n order to prevent “enemy combatants from continuing the fight against the U.S. and its partners in the war on terror.”  Its goals were military and tactical, not juridicial or penal.  Still the conditions under which these unconventional prisoners were to be held did involve questions.

The Senate, alert to public opinion, and including the Democratic leadership and 99 of  its members,  refused to grant the President the $80 million he asked for to close the detention center, and stripped the requested funds from a war-spending bill.  Senate Leader Harry Reid said “Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president.  We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States.”

The REAL ID Act of 2005 prohibits anyone connected to terrorist activity from entering and living in the United States.  (A bill that Obama voted for).  There are approximately 30 detainees who have been cleared for release from incarceration.  The administration is trying to find them a home.  European nations are reluctant to make any commitment unless President Obama also allows a number to live freely in the United States.

One federal district court judge has ruled that 17 Chinese Muslims be brought to Washington D.C. The judge cited no law or treaty to support his order.   The Uighurs have appealed to the Supreme Court, where it rests at present.

It is doubtful that it is legal to incarcerate detainees in the federal prison system without trial, or to put them in solitary confinement without trial in maximum security prisons.  Trials are a problem, because the prisoners  were meant to be detained, not tried.  As David Rivkin and Lee Casey point out:

Guantanamo has always been a symbol, rather than the substance, of complaints against America’s “war on terror.”  It’s the military character of the U.S. response to 9/11 that foreign and domestic critics won’t accept.

President Obama has made the naive assumption that the Bush administration did not consider  these problems when they opened the Gitmo detention center.  It was not decided on either lightly or without reservations, and there were efforts from the first to make sure that the facility was responsible and honorable.  The first ‘building’ was a trailer home for the representatives of the International Red Cross, who help inmates to write home.  Rivkin and Casey again:

Mr. Obama can still reverse his decision to close Guantanamo.  This would cost him significant political support among his base.  But making unpopular decisions to serve the national interest is a president’s duty and obligation.




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