American Elephants


Today’s Must Read Essays. Matters of Strength and Weakness. by The Elephant's Child

Michael Doran, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. He specializes in Middle East security issues. “I Don’t Bluff..”

President Obama has repeatedly promised to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. If there is no other choice, he says, he will resort to force. In a March 2012 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the president famously rejected the alternative policy, namely, allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. He emphasized the point dramatically: “[A]s president of the United States,” he said, “I don’t bluff.”

Really? Suppose this statement was just a show of toughness, timed to keep supporters of Israel on his side during the 2012 campaign season. Suppose that, when it came to Iran, in his heart of hearts, the president actually preferred a strategy of containment to a strategy of prevention. Suppose that was actually his policy aim from the outset—but, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t say so. How would he proceed?

He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding—trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.
Read the whole thing:

Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “What are the Metaphysics of Islamic Denial?”

After six years, it is no surprise that the Obama administration does not see the Taliban as “terrorists” or that it will not associate “violent extremism” with radical Islam or just Islam.

After all, when Maj. Hasan murdered U.S. soldiers it was nothing more than “workplace violence,” as if he were a disgruntled post office employee of the 1970s. Our two top intelligence chiefs assured us that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular” and that jihad “was a legitimate tenet of Islam.” Add in “workplace violence” and the old “overseas contingency operations.” Do we remember that Ms. Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security warned us about right-wing returning veterans as the most likely to terrorize us? When someone blows up people at the Boston Marathon, beheads a woman in Oklahoma, or puts a hatchet in a NYPD officer’s head, he is not a terrorist or proselytizer fueled by Islamic hatred of non-Muslims as much as mentally confused. (I suppose in a way that a Hitler or Stalin was not.)      Read the whole thing:

Again, Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “Obama Does Have a Strategy

The Wise People of American foreign policy — Madeleine Albright, General Jack Keane, Henry Kissinger, General James Mattis, George Shultz, and others — recently testified before Congress. Their candid and insightful collective message dovetailed with the worries of many former Obama-administration officials, such as one-time defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as well as a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Their consensus is that the U.S. is drifting, and with it the world at large: The Obama administration has not formulated a consistent strategy to cope with the advance of second-generation Islamic terrorism. It is confused by the state upheavals in the Middle East. It is surprised by the aggression of Putin’s Russia and the ascendance of an autocratic China. Our allies in Europe, much of democratic Asia, and Israel all worry that the U.S. is rudderless, as it slashes its military budget and withdraws from prior commitments.

While I think the symptomology of an ailing, herky-jerky United States is correct, the cause of such malaise is left unspoken. The Obama team — with its foreign policy formulated by President Obama himself, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry — is not in fact befuddled by the existing world. Instead, it is intent on changing it into something quite different from what it is.

So far from being chaotic, current U.S. foreign policy is consistent, logical, and based on four pillars of belief.
Read the Whole Thing



Why Is It So Hard To Take Terrorism Seriously? by The Elephant's Child

Today we have been confronted with another video from ISIS. In a professionally shot and edited video posted on the internet. ISIS  showed the execution of captive Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh who has been held since his F-16 fighter jet went down near ISIS’ conquered capital of Raqqa in December. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh was shown walking to the cage in which he was imprisoned and burned alive.

President Obama said:

And I think we will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated. It also indicates the degree to which whatever ideology they are operating off of, it’s bankrupt. We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better.

Jordan, on the other hand, promised an  “earth-shaking” response. An official said the authorities would swiftly execute several militants held in Jordan in retaliation, including an Iraqi woman whom Amman had sought to swap for the pilot taken captive after his plane crashed in Syria.

It is believed that the execution actually took place about a month ago.

These videos are meant as terror, but also, apparently, as recruiting films. Come join us and you get to be a savage out of the Seventh Century? The adventure of a lifetime? Max Boot suggested that perhaps the effectiveness of on-camera beheadings was beginning to wane.

They are addressing a Western world where California has just raised the cost and availability of eggs, because they are afraid the chickens might be offended by being in cages that are too small.

Obama dithers, and refuses to link “violent extremism” with radical Islam, or even Islam.



40 Photographs From the Past, Brought Up-To-Date With Color. by The Elephant's Child
February 3, 2015, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Art, History, News | Tags: , ,

colorized-historic-photo-14-30

A new trend has emerged, of colorizing black and white photographs from the past. The colorizing is well done in the examples I have seen. The website that presents these 40 examples says that colorizing photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s “changes their appearance from something historic and different, into a scene from today,” “changing our perception of history dramatically.”

They are very interesting, and do look more like our world of today, but I don’t know that they change our perception of history at all. I don’t find black and white photos difficult to understand, perhaps because I’ve always had family albums in black and white, and family pictures on the wall, and remain untroubled by their lack of color.

Do take a few moments to go through these. Doesn’t take long. See what you think. Do these people come alive once colored, does it change your ideas of history? I’m more interested in seeing pictures of things from the past never seen before, colorized or not.




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