American Elephants


The First Half of 2015 Has Been the Most Intense Period of Terrorist Plotting Since 9/11 by The Elephant's Child

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(The Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City after a suicide
bomber killed at least 25 Shiite worshipers at prayer)

Peter Brooks, senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation wrote today that: We have had nine terrorist plots this year in the United States. So far all of the plots in 2015 have had ties to ISIS off in Iraq and Syria, whether the plotters were direct (recruited by ISIS) or indirect (inspired by ISIS). FBI Director James Comey said in February, that his agency is investigating Islamic State-related cases in all 50 states.

They heavily use social media, using publicly available encryption found on the internet to chat in complete privacy. They can hide their computer IP addresses, and are moving over to the so-called “dark web” where a lot of very bad actors reside. Their technology is pretty good, their propaganda is increasingly capable of reaching and radicalizing those here who would do us harm.

In Britain, Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, the former Chief of the Defense Staff, has warned that Muslim extremism is a “real threat” to the world, and he condemned dithering politicians who are too reluctant to lead the way. He warned that a “hell of a lot of damage” is going to be wreaked by ISIS in coming years, and leaders are failing to plan properly. “I think the problem is that we have not seen that we need to approach the issue of Muslim extremism  as we might approach World War Two back in the Thirties.

He said “Right now, in the ranks of the armed forces, and the army in particular, are the most experienced, battle hardened people since the end of the Second World War.

Jihadists like anniversaries, so their three terror attacks took place on the eve of ISIS declaration of a caliphate last June 29. They only took  credit for one of the atrocities — a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, where 27 people were killed, but all going off at the same time.Ramadan began last week, and an ISIS spokesman called on “mujahadeen everywhere” to make it “a month of disasters for the infidels.”

In Tunisia, a gunman posing as a tourist  killed at least 37 people, most European vacationers at a beach resort. In France, a car-bombing attempt at an American-owned chemical plant near Lyon failed to cause major damage, but not before the attacker planted the decapitated head of his boss on the plant’s gate, along with an Islamic flag.

President Obama recently deployed 450 additional trainers to help the Iraqi army fight, but they aren’t getting enough Iraqi volunteers, which in the wake of ISIS drowning captives, removing heads, burning in cages is not really surprising when the Americans have such restrictive Rules of Engagement, and have demonstrated that they are undependable allies. ISIS is a direct threat to the West as well as to the region in general, and it needs to be dealt with that way.

Obama’s view of the Middle East and ISIS isn’t a policy for dealing with this problem. As he explained, he doesn’t have a complete strategy yet.  Little late in the game for developing one.



It Is Way Past Time to Call a Halt to this Pathetic Search for a Nuclear Deal. by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s Iran nuclear negotiations are coming down to the final days before a self-imposed deadline expires. The administration is desperately seeking support for its effort to make a deal at any price. Five of Obama’s closest advisers, members of his inner circle of advisers on Iran have signed a letter urging him to stand his ground for once. Iran’s parliament has voted that they will accept no inspections, none of their military sites will be open to inspectors at any time, and generally thumbed their noses at the U.S.

Obama came to office with an array of really big accomplishments he expected to make to place him in the list of the greatest presidents. Health Care was one. Ending the Iraq War, closing Gitmo, a Two-State Solution between Israel and Palestine, renewing relations with Cuba, and a nuclear deal with Iran. His list seems remarkably short on history and anything but the shallowest understanding of world affairs.

He badly wants a deal with Iran, and seems open to any concession that might enable him to get “a deal.” Sanctions have put Iran’s economy in a bind, exacerbated by the advent of “fracking” and America’s abundance of oil and natural gas — which, in turn, has significantly brought down the price of a barrel of oil, to less than the break-even cost for Iranian oil. It was the sanctions and pressure on Iran’s economy that brought them to the table in the first place.

The administration has long insisted that any nuclear deal will have no effect on American determination to stop Iran’s support for terrorism, their drive for nuclear weapons, and their regional ambitions. From Mr. Obama’s public statements, he apparently believes that the Iranians are just people like us, who essentially care about their families, and their claims of “Death to America” are just public relations ploys to keep the locals happy, or something like that. From Michael Ledeen:

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

Obama has already lifted most of the sanctions that brought Iran to the table. Now he is ending some funding that annoys Iran. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan businessman was cited by President GW Bush as the :”chief financial officer and money launderer” for the nuclear-proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan,  In 1994 or 1995, Mr. Khan asked Mr. Tahir to ship uranium centrifuges to Iran. The Bush Administration put Mr. Tahir on the U.S Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of sanctioned persons. The Treasury Department removed his name from that list on April 3, exactly one day after the framework agreement was announced.This delisting is intended to whitewash Iran’s illicit acquisition of centrifuges as having anything to do with a nuclear weapons program. Nothing to see here, just move on.

Iran’s ballistic missile program has long been considered as the most effective way to deliver a nuclear weapon, and the Administration pushed for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missiles in 2010. When it came time to negotiate, however, the Administration gave in, as they did to most everything else, to Iran’s insistence that it would accept no missile limitations, thus separating the missile program and the nuclear program.

As the shape of the nuclear deal becomes clearer, it looks like a betrayal of our friends and a gift to a repugnant dictatorship, not to mention a real threat to America.

The Obama administration is unlikely to return to the previous goals of requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure or cease, even temporarily, its uranium enrichment. Nor is it likely to insist that Tehran alter non-nuclear policies such as support for terrorism and destabilizing regional activities in connection with a nuclear accord or as a condition for sanctions relief. These facts alone ensure that any nuclear deal will fall well short of longstanding U.S. goals and face significant opposition in Washington and among allies in the Middle East.

Today Iran is insisting the United States and world powers deliver more concessions at the negotiating table, including consenting to demands that any final nuclear agreement last less than 10 years.

Iran’s bid to pressure Western powers came amid reports that the United States promised in secret documents to deliver to Tehran “high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment” that would modernize and improve its nuclear program. This portion of the agreement appears to reverse decades of U.S. policy towards Iran.



It Sounded Like a Big Deal, But It is Only a Teeny One. by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

In Britain, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that large swathes of the British countryside are to be spared the blight of windfarms as taxpayer subsidies are ended. She said that about 2,500 proposed turbines in 250 projects are now “unlikely to be built.” Pay attention to that word “proposed.” They are not tearing down existing windfarms, at least not yet.

The owners of some windfarms have been paid more than £3 million each to shut down their turbines when the National Grid is overloaded. Most windfarms are in Scotland, and “bottlenecks” of energy can build during high winds. Offshore windfarms are not affected as yet. This is unrelated to the ending of subsidies for future farms.

Origin Energy wants to cut down a corner of Barnsdale Forest to make way for two 400ft wind turbines which would tower over the remaining trees. The forest, which was featured in Russell Crowe’s 2010 movie ‘Robin Hood,’ is established as the haunt of the Merry Men in folklore, but local historians are researching Tudor history to determine if there is truth to the story — to prevent the turbines from being built.The locals are set against the windfarm.

Ms Rudd, who has also announced plans to give local communities the final say over windfarms, said: “We are reaching the limits of what is affordable, and what the public is prepared to accept.”

But critics said taxpayers still face a soaring bill for subsidies to costly offshore windfarms .

Without taxpayer subsidies, windfarms get scrapped. They are not a successful business proposition. Britain got all excited about moving to “renewable” energy, but as they blight the landscape and nearby people suffer from the noise, and their taxes go up, enthusiasm wanes. When you get around to shutting them down, be sure to add taking them down and disposing of the dead turbines part of the deal.

I did see ‘Robin Hood’ and cherish the memory. Russell Crowe was Russell Crowe, the story improbable, but it was the ending that was wonderful. It was the Norman Invasion, 1066, and according to Hollywood, the Normans invaded England with Medieval Higgins boats apparently mostly made of driftwood. They were rowed up to the British beach and the front ramp fell, but all were defeated by the Merry Men and the Battle of Hastings never took place? Or perhaps the beach landings were the Battle of Hastings. It was hilarious!



Why Do They Seem To Be Barbarians from the Sixth Century? That is Their Aim! by The Elephant's Child
June 23, 2015, 9:27 pm
Filed under: History, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

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ISIS has released a new video showing the organization using new methods of killing its prisoners. They seem to be striving for the utmost in brutality, and of course, terrorism is supposed to strike terror in the hearts of its opponents. In the first segment, a group of men wearing orange jumpsuits are led into a desert clearing, and locked in an Opel car.  A masked jihadi appears carrying a huge grenade launcher. Fired from close range, the car bursts into flames, the car and its passengers are immolated.

In the second segment,the prisoners are interviewed, where they “confess” to their crimes. The five men are shown locked into an iron cage and slowly lowered into a swimming pool to drown. Underwater cameras capture them thrashing before falling unconscious. ( I hasten to add that I did not see the video, but report from descriptions)

In the third segment, the prisoners are interviewed, then led into a field, where explosive cables are tied around their necks. Seconds later the explosives are detonated. Several of the men are clearly decapitated while other suffer horrific, fatal upper body injuries.

Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday that two boys well under the age of 18 were crucified by the Islamic State in the streets of the Syrian city of al-Mayadin for not observing the laws of Ramadan. Observatory founder Rami Abdul Rahman said the boys had been caught eating. The children were charged with the crime of “not fasting on Ramadan.” Their bodies had placards around their necks announcing their crime was committed “with no religious justification.”

Captured women have been offered as sex slaves as prizes for learning the most verses of the Koran. Westerners understandably find this almost impossible to comprehend. Why would anyone want to  return to the barbarianism of the sixth century? When the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinei returned to Iran in 1979, the Peacock throne fell, and the exiled Shah was invited to take up residence in Egypt. The Ayatollah reframed the debate.

The establishment of the state of Israel was a shock to the Muslim world. Then came the 1967 war with Israel. After years of rhetorical attacks on Israel, Nasser demanded the removal of UN peacekeepers in the Sinai and then blockaded the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

Israel responded with an overwhelming preemptive attack that destroyed the entire Egyptian air force in two hours. When Jordan, Iraq and Syria joined the war against Israel, their air forces were also wiped out that same afternoon. In the next few days Israel captured all of the Sinai, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, while crushing the forces of the frontline Arab states. It was a turning point in the history of the modern Middle East. The speed and decisiveness of the Israeli victory in the Six Day War humiliated many Muslims who had believed then that God favored their cause.They had lost not only their armies and their territories but also faith in their leaders, in their countries, and in themselves. The profound appeal of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt and elsewhere was born in this shocking debacle. A newly strident voice was heard in the mosques; the voice said they had been defeated by a force far larger than the tiny country of Israel. God had turned against the Muslims. The only way back to Him was to return to the pure religion. The voice answered despair with a simple formulation: Islam is the solution. …

The voice in the mosque said that the Arabs had let go of the one weapon that gave them real power: faith. Restore the fervor and purity of the religion that had made the Arabs great, and God would once again take their side. …

Islamists say the Sharia cannot be improved upon, despite fifteen centuries of social change, because it arises directly from the mind of God. They want to bypass the long tradition of judicial opinion from Muslim scholars and forge a more authentically Islamic legal system that is untainted by Western influence or any improvisations caused by the engagement with modernity.*

   *Excerpts from The Looming Tower  by Lawrence Wright



Democrats Voted For the Iraq War, Changed Their Minds When Combat Ended, Launched a 5 Year Propaganda Effort to Discredit Bush. by The Elephant's Child

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I usually have the radio on in the daytime, because I can listen and get other stuff done. This morning I was startled by a caller who said: “I’m 22, and the people my age would never vote for a Bush because of the stigma attached to his name.” He added something to the effect that he didn’t dislike President Bush personally, it was the stigma. Stigma.

Liberals were as shocked and horrified as everyone else at the events on 9/11, the first attack on America since Pearl Harbor.  The 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, (before 9/11) under Clinton, calling for regime change in Iraq, and supporting a transition to democracy passed the House 360-38 and unanimously in the Senate. Under the Bush administration, and after 9/11, there was a 1991 Resolution for the Use of Military Force against Iraq which passed the Democrat-controlled Senate 52-47 and the House 250-183. That was followed by the 1992 Iraq War Resolution that authorized military force against Iraq which also passed Congress with significant margins.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003, Baghdad fell on April 10, Coalition forces moved into Baghdad ending the 24 year reign of Saddam Hussein. On May 1, President George W. Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq over.

That month the Democratic Party launched a national campaign against America’s commander in chief, claiming that he had lied to the American people to lure them into a war that was “unnecessary,” “immoral, and “illegal.”

Until that moment, the conflict in Iraq had been supported by both parties and was regarded by both as a strategic necessity in the war launched by Islamic terrorists on 9/11. Saddam Hussein had launched two aggressive wars in the Middle East, murdered three hundred thousand Iraqis, used chemical weapons on his own citizens, and put in place a nuclear weapons program, thwarted only by his defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. Over the next decade, his regime defied sixteen United Nations Security Council resolutions attempting to enforce the Gulf War truce and stop him from pursuing weapons of mass destruction. In September 2002, the Security Council added a seventeenth  resolution, which gave Saddam until December 7 to comply with its terms or face consequences. When Iraq failed to comply, Bush made the only decision compatible with the preservation of international law and the security of the United States by launching a preemptive invasion to remover the regime. Two days prior to the invasion, the Iraqi dictator was given the option of leaving the country and averting the war.

In June 2003, just three months after the fighting began, the Democrats turned against the war and launched  a five-year campaign to delegitimize it, casting America and its Republican leaders as the villains. This betrayal of the nation and its troops on the battlefield was unprecedented. Major press institutions following the Democrats’ lead conducted a propaganda campaign against the war, blowing up minor incidents like the misbehavior of guards at the Abu Ghraib prion to international scandals, which damaged America’s prestige and weakened its morale. The New York Times and the Washington Post leaked classified documents, destroying three major national security programs designed to protect Americans from terrorist attack. Every day of the war, there was front-page coverage of America’s body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan designed to sap America’s will to fight.  (David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)

There’s your “stigma.”

Did you read the newspaper accounts of the doubling of the death toll in the war in Afghanistan under Barack Obama? Thought not. “Bush lied, People died,” was the chant. Propaganda designed to discredit the American president, who they were still furious with  for defeating Al Gore, illegally, they were sure. A five year long propaganda campaign to be sure Bush got no credit. The ends justify whatever means you have to use. Americans are inclined to like Presidents who win wars. Can’t have that. Remember Bill Clinton complaining because he didn’t get to be a wartime president?



The Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815 by The Elephant's Child

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Napoléon Bonaparte, born August 15, 1769 on the island of Corsica, rose from an artillery officer in the French Army,  to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. He dominated French affairs for two decades while leading France against 220px-Jacques-Louis_David_-_The_Emperor_Napoleon_in_His_Study_at_the_Tuileries_-_Google_Art_Projecta series of coalitions in the Revolutionary Wars and what came to be called the Napoleonic Wars.

He became Emperor of France in 1804. He was one of the greatest military commanders in history and his campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide.

Today, the British are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, by a coalition led by the British Duke of Wellington, pictured at top to Napoleon’s right in the red coat.

Andrew Roberts has a new biography just out. I’ve heard him interviewed on the radio, and it sounds very interesting. British children learn two major dates — 1066, the Battle of Hastings, and 1815, the Battle of Waterloo — or at least they used to. Of course there is a movie, called appropriately — “Waterloo.”



Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airship — the Next Revolution. by The Elephant's Child

You learn something new every day. I had no idea they were working on this. I’ve long been familiar with dirigibles.  Used to drive by the hangar near the freeway just north of San Jose, fairly frequently. The working model pictured is 1/3 scale, so Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships — the real ones — would be huge.  Able to go to areas with little transportation and no highways or runways.  The possibilities seem endless. Fascinating.




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