American Elephants

We’re Going to Talk to the Taliban, Talk to the Taliban, No One’s Asking Why. by The Elephant's Child


The United States is commencing negotiations with the Taliban — the people who are trying to kill American soldiers every day. What is it that we are negotiating? The Taliban has no reason to negotiate seriously with us. Obama has already scheduled when our troops are leaving, so the prospects for a Taliban military victory in Afghanistan would seem to be good. Why would the Taliban make concessions of any kind?

Investors said today that Obama “is practically engineering a silent coup against flawed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, with whom we replaced the Taliban in 2001. He’s copying America’s worst mistake of the Vietnam War, when the Kennedy administration betrayed South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem 50 years ago.

Karzai  backed out of impending talks with the Taliban after the U.S. announced its diplomats will negotiate directly with the country’s bloodthirsty former rulers.  The American announcement was met by a Taliban rocket attack on Bagram Air Base that killed four of our troops and wounded six others.

More to Karzai’s distaste, however, the political office the Taliban opened in Qatar on the same day the U.S. formally announced our nationwide transfer of security to Afghan government forces bears the name the Taliban used as rulers, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It sounds awfully like a provisional government.

Karzai, whose father was gunned down by the Taliban outside a mosque in 1999, can read the writing on the wall. His days are numbered.

Back in 2007, when Obama was first campaigning for president, he argued that the Iraq war was a diversion from U.S. national interests, and that the legitimate war — the one Americans needed to win— was in Afghanistan. Since then he’s been trying to talk back the idea of victory. By setting a deadline for when we’d be out, Obama lost the confidence of America’s allies among the Afghans and convinced the Taliban and the Pakistanis that their strategy was working.

If they follow their usual course, the Taliban will turn on and purge any pro-Western Afghans as soon as the last Americans depart. Our allies who have sent troops to help with the fight in Afghanistan will lose even more confidence in the trustworthiness of America. And as Michael Rubin wrote: “the idea that Taliban terrorism defeated a superpower is what every Islamist from Minneapolis to Mogadishu and from Tehran to Timbuktu will conclude, as they plot their future strategy and tactics in their ideological confrontation with Western Liberalism.” That does not bode well.

Obama came into office with profound ignorance of foreign policy, and was sure that his visit to Pakistan when he was in college,  and living in a Muslim country as a child gave him a special ability to make peace with the Islamist world. That went well.

He carelessly threw away a hard-fought victory in Iraq, his embarrassing misunderstanding of the Arab Spring has ignited a sectarian war across the Middle East, and convinced our allies that the United States of America is weak and not to be trusted. In his canned speech at the Brandenburg Gate, he announced new efforts to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which suggest he may meet the Taliban demand that he release Taliban detainees.

Having successfully weakened America’s position in the world, and with apparent indifference to the increasing danger of nuclear proliferation  — is he still counting on talks with Iran, North Korea and China?—he announced that he wants to cut our nuclear arsenal by one-third, because he thinks nuclear disarmament is a really swell idea. Has he learned yet that Vladimir Putin is really not a nice guy?

Opening talks with the Taliban have been “delayed,” just announced on the radio. The Taliban went overboard with the new offices in Qatar, importantly named “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and with a Taliban flag flying over the office. Bad move. With Karzai backing out of talks, apparently someone in the administration has finally noticed that this is not cool at all. More backroom shuffling around. More statements for the public to paper over the pretensions of noble intent. Can’t be done. Dreadful stupid mistaken mess. .

Not the Most Successful Trip Abroad. by The Elephant's Child
June 19, 2013, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Politics

President Obama, on a trip to the Group of Eight Summit in Belfast, managed to stick his nose into the internal affairs of Northern Ireland. He pretty much suggested that the Irish should dismantle their Catholic and Protestant schools on the grounds they’re hotbeds of hatred.  This is an old leftist canard, and odd coming from an American president whose nation’s founding was set upon the idea that all sorts of different religions could flourish together as long as there is the guarantee of freedom.

“If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another, and fear or resentment are allowed to harden — that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,

The headline in the Scottish Catholic Observer observed: the “US President undermines Catholic schools after Vatican Prefect praised them.

President Barack Obama  repeated the oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division in front of an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall when he arrived in the country this morning. …

The US politician made the unfounded claim despite a top Vatican official spelling out the undeniable good done by Catholic education in a speech in Glasgow on Saturday and in his homily at Mass on Friday.

Catholic World News noted:
Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a crowd in Scotland that religious education upholds the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Müller said that Catholic schools should promote “all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.”
President Obama’s visit to Germany to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, brought a headline in Der Spiegel that read:Obama’s Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself from America,” accompanied by an image from this anti-Obama poster from Hong Kong:
The article asks “Is Barack Obama a friend? Revelations about his government’s vast spying program call that assumption into doubt. The European Union must protect the Continent from America’s reach for omnipotence.On Tuesday, the head of the largest and most all-encompassing surveillance system ever invented is coming for a visit. If Barack Obama is our friend, then we really don’t need to be terribly worried about our enemies.

It is embarrassing: Barack Obama will be arriving in Berlin for only the second time, but his visit is coming just as we are learning that the US president is a snoop on a colossal scale. …
Mr. Obama has been quite sure that one of his great accomplishments has been to end the international hatred of George W. Bush and America  with the force of his personality. Seems more like we’re just getting back to normal. Nations have interests, foreign policy is not a popularity contest.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Wednesday for cutting subsidies for Green Energy.

Germany urgently needs to scale back its financial support for the development of renewable energy to contain the spiraling costs of its move to a low-carbon economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.
Addressing an energy conference in Berlin, Ms. Merkel called for reducing government spending on energy like wind and solar power to keep Germany economically competitive.

She said this should take priority over reforming the European Union’s trading scheme for industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, a cornerstone of the bloc’s effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The scheme has floundered amid low carbon prices.Energy in Europe is much more expensive than in the U.S., in part because the boom in shale gas production has pushed down prices in North America, Ms. Merkel said.

So the ever helpful President Obama tells the Germans that:

In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewal energy from clean sources like wind and solar power.  We’re doubling fuel efficiency on our cars.  Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down.  But we know we have to do more — and we will do more.

With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some.  For the grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise.  This is the future we must avert.  This is the global threat of our time.  And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late.  That is our job.  That is our task.  We have to get to work.

Germany is having a hard time with energy. Energy costs are driving many of their people into energy poverty. Germans are afraid of nuclear power since Chernobyl, while their neighboring France depends on reliable nuclear power. In general, if subsidies are removed from wind and solar, they go out of business. Neither wind nor solar is cost-effective, and European economies can no longer afford the subsidies. “Greens”are far stronger politically than they are here, and romantic belief in ‘clean” energy remains strong, while their governments struggle to understand what’s happening. Attendance at Obama’s pre-presidential speech in Berlin as a candidate drew an audience of nearly 200,000.  Down this time to around 4,000.

In general, instructing other countries in how to manage their economies doesn’t usually go down too well. Back home, the president’s new campaign operation plans to attack Republicans who dare to question radical global warming hype “crazy” purveyors of “far-fetched conspiracy theories.”

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