American Elephants

Obama Is Considering Potential Action And Discussing Options. by The Elephant's Child

Just a few days ago, I was reading about the real and highly consequential democratic process of elections in Iraq.  Iraq, said Bartle Bull, is engaged in a “conversation about government formation in a functional, stable and constitutional electoral setting. There is no talk of coups, of disenfranchised minorities, or politicized electoral commissions.” I quoted part of this previously.

The process of forming the next government may take months, and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the front-runner, although his victory is far from certain. Whoever does emerge atop what Disraeli called the “greasy pole”, there is no chance of a government that harbors al-Qaeda or belongs to the mullahs in Tehran, that invades its neighbors, assassinates its enemies, or gasses its own people. All of these things are vote-losers in Iraq, and in Iraqi politics today it is the vote that matters most.

The April election was the seventh time since January 2005 that Iraqis have gone to the polls on a national basis. The land of the purple finger has enjoyed four parliamentary elections, with an average turnout of 63 percent; two nationwide provincial elections, with an average turnout of 52 percent; and a constitutional referendum in which 63 percent of the country turned out to vote (and 79 percent voted “Yes”) on the republic’s inclusive, liberal, federalist constitution.

Every one of these ballots has been judged free and fair by international observers. Even ignoring the local circumstances that make this fact especially remarkable (the constant threat of jihadi violence on polling days, exacerbated by governance so poor that it is a wonder that anyone has enough faith in government to bother to vote at all), Iraqis have once again proven that they are more than deserving of the opportunity presented to them.

Twelve days later, and everything has changed. Well, most everything. ISIS is advancing on Baghdad, the Kurds have taken Kirkuk, and Iraqis are fleeing, trying to find somewhere to get out of the way. President Obama who said recently that his foreign policy can be summed up as “Don’t do dumb s––t !”, is doing just that in resorting to his usual dithering which will undoubtedly be followed by “There’s nothing we could have done,” once it’s too late.

President Maliki has asked for some air support, maybe some drone strikes. We reportedly have some drones doing surveillance. What they need are those A-10 Warthogs that a House panel just voted to scrap.  It’s an old plane, but the troops love it for the close air-support the gunship can deliver. What do I know, I’ve never been in the military, but I’d be inclined to listen to the troops who need it instead of congressmen who benefit from having certain armaments produced in their district. Close air-support is a difficult mission, and the A-10 works because it can go comparatively low and slow. The congressmen who voted to retire it claim the F-16 and the B-1 bomber can do the same mission, but the reverse isn’t true. Five US troops were just killed on Monday in an apparent friendly fire strike in southern Afghanistan. They had reportedly requested close-air support from a B-1 bomber. It’s all about the money. More modern, multi-mission aircraft, new generation of drones….

President Obama is not being well-served by his foreign policy advisers. He’s got Susan Rice,  who tells stories, a former speechwriter, a former campaign hack, Chuck Hagel and Valerie Jarrett. What could possibly go wrong?

The Pentagon, I am told, is always planning for the next war, not the present one. Drones, robots, and other high-tech wonders, while back in the real world we have tribal warfare with pick-ups, stolen Stingers and the American equipment that fleeing Iraqi troops left behind. The American people don’t mind wars when we are clearly winning, when nobody much gets killed, and  last no more than 4 years.  We watch too many movies, read military thrillers where the hero always wins and gets the girl, when we should be reading the books written by men who are reflecting on their time serving in combat.

We will have to wait a while for the definitive history of the War in Iraq. The Media, out to get George W. Bush, gave us a false picture that historians will have to reckon with. The tribal war between the Sunni, Shia and Kurds is hard enough to understand for those of us who are unfamiliar with the Koran, without dealing with Islamic politics, American politics and media misrepresentation. I’ve been re-reading the columns of Douglas Hanson who was American Thinker’s foreign policy person during the Iraq war. Really interesting. I wish President Obama had done that.

President Obama is examining  potential actions with his foreign policy team, and discussing various options. They have asked military and intelligence agencies to draw up options that include limited U.S. military action in Iraq, officials said. “They’re looking at everything and anything and have been told explicitly by the White House to think outside the box of what is possible,” a senior U.S. official said.

The president said he is seeking support from U.S. allies in any effort to keep extremists from gaining a permanent foothold in Iraq or Syria. Don’t want to do anything all on our own, we might be blamed.

It’s George Herbert Walker Bush’s 90th Birthday Today. Happy Birthday Mr.President! by The Elephant's Child

Bush 41, celebrated his 90th birthday in his own remarkable fashion — he jumped out of an airplane. In this case, a helicopter. He has lost the use of his legs, so he made the jump in tandem with Sergeant First Class Mike Elliot, who guided the parachute to a graceful landing in the Bush front yard at Kennebunkport.

Carl Cannon pays tribute at Real Clear Politics:

George Herbert Walker Bush, the second son of Prescott and Dorothy Bush, was born on this day in 1924, which means that the spring he turned 18, his nation was at war. Poppy Bush, as he was called, had just earned his high school diploma at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass, where captained the baseball team and earned a reputation as a handsome and friendly class leader.

With the assistance of Bush’s father, a future U.S. senator, Andover secured the services of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson as its 1942 commencement speaker. One of his tasks, Stimson decided, was advising the 213 all-male members of the graduating class that they not rush off to war. Go to college first, he advised. Your country will still need you in three or four years — as officers.

But Poppy Bush had quietly acquainted himself with the men assigned to the U.S. Navy’s local recruiting office. And as he and his family filed out of Cochran Chapel on June 12, 1942, Prescott Bush asked his son whether Stimson’s speech had changed his mind.

“No, sir,” the young man replied. “I’m joining up.”

It was George Bush’s 18th birthday. Days later, he was in the United States Navy.

A year after that, he was flying combat missions against the Japanese, the youngest Navy flier in the Pacific theater. He would fly 58 missions and be awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross. On the last of these missions, on Sept. 2, 1944, his plane was shot down. His two crewmen did not survive, but Bush was rescued by a U.S. submarine after floating for hours in the ocean.

As president, Bush went back to Andover, and he recalled what he remembered of Henry Stimson’s long-ago commencement speech. “He observed how the American soldier should be brave without being brutal, self-reliant without boasting, becoming a part of irresistible might without losing faith in individual liberty,” Bush said. “I never forgot those words.”

Here are “41 things about Bush 41” that you probably didn’t know.

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