American Elephants

What Did Obama Mean By “Fundamentally Transform”? by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturing

Most of us are apt to divide the world up into the good guys and the bad guys. Opposites.  Simplistic thinking, of course. No nuance. (when did that word slip into the daily vocabulary?) Winners and losers. Short and tall, rich and poor, hard-working and lazy, handsome and ugly, cruel and kind, smart and stupid. It helps us to understand those things we encounter in the world, we can modify our judgment later.

World War II was clear — Allies and Axis, and the Cold War — Communists and the Free World. Things began to get confused with the War in Vietnam. Protesters couldn’t decide who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Jane Fonda has never been forgiven for her stupidity, but she was not alone among the far left. It was a confusing time, and when the Draft was ended, surprisingly so were the protests.

Questions today on the internet ask “Is Obama a Christian?” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” But those are the wrong questions. Obama has given every indication of signing up with the bad guys, the Axis, the Communists, and those who oppose our country. His dislike for the Israeli prime minister is obvious; his distaste for the United Kingdom is clear; his support for a deal with Iran; his support for the Muslim Brotherhood; for the deposed president of Egypt; inability to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq; Benghazi; refusal to help the dissidents in Iran, and in Syria; and the silly outreach to Cuba; and the support for most anti-American governments in South America.

There is a pattern.  A pattern which is behind Rudy Giuliani’s asking if the president loves America. One would think that the media would be somewhat aware of the direction of the entire Obama administration, instead of dissolving in wrath when someone actually notices. (Or is that why the media boiled over —they’re beginning to notice?)

I think he is just doing exactly what he said he would do: attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Everybody was so excited with the idea of the first black president, the mellow baritone voice, the moving phraseology “Yes We Can!,” “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!,” that they didn’t really pay any attention to what he actually said that he wanted to do. I don’t think he is trying to destroy the country, he just wants to “fix” it.

We are paying the price for our inattention. And it’s up to us to find out exactly what he meant by “fundamentally transform.” It matters. It matters a lot.

“Once You see what he is trying to accomplish, it all makes sense.” by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online:

“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,” Hanson says,” from being chaotic, current U.S. foreign policy is consistent, logical, and based on four pillars of belief.”

Do read the whole thing, Victor Hanson spells out why, in Obama’s mind, we are doing what we are doing. Obama does have a strategy. It’s just mistaken.

America In Retreat by The Elephant's Child

ISIS would not exist, but for President Obama’s overwhelming urge to get completely out of Iraq because he hated George W. Bush and believed that he was elected to “get us out of Iraq,” tossing aside the difficult task of getting a status of forces agreement, the advice of his Secretaries of Defense and the military establishment. To his mind the subsequent failure of the Iraqi army proved that he was correct—not that they needed more training, as he had been warned.

Now he’s doing the same thing in Afghanistan, with the same results. Reportedly, ISIS has joined up with the Taliban to recruit fighters in Afghanistan. The current speculation is that Obama intends to turn over the problems in Iraq to Iran, and if they can clean it up, we’ll let them go ahead with their centrifuges. Obama does not believe in a “smarter” American leadership. He has no strategy at all, and doesn’t know how to lead.

Is The White House Trying to Hide Bowe Bergdahl Charges? by The Elephant's Child


Yesterday, Both Fox News and NBC News have reported that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion.

“I have been told and confirmed by two other sources that his attorney has been given what we call a charge sheet,” retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a respected military analyst, told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on Monday. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski quoted senior defense officials on Tuesday as saying charges could be referred within a week.

“A charge sheet is the results of investigation listing out the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that have been violated,” Shaffer explained. “The key violation is desertion.”

According to Shaffer, an analyst with the London Center for Policy Research, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in the cover-up of administration malfeasance in the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, has been laboring to keep this information under wraps as long as possible. …

Same day, New York Post headline: “Army denies that Bowe Bergdahl is set to be charged with desertion.”

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Ronald F. Lewis, chief of public affairs for the Army, denied the reports, insisting that no decision has been made about Bergdahl.

“The reporting from Fox News and NBC on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is patently false. To be clear there have been no actions or decisions on the Sgt. Bergdahl investigation. The investigation is still with the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command who will determine appropriate action — which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial. We understand the public interest in this case and once a decision has been made, the Army will be open and transparent in this matter.”

The White House does not want Bergdahl to be charged with desertion. There was the big Rose Garden scene with the Bergdahl parents, President Obama actually traded five top Taliban commanders who had been held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban for then private Bergdahl.

Bergdahl walked away from his combat post in 2009 in a time of war, leaving behind his weapon, his gear and his fellow soldiers. At least six soldiers were reported to have been killed in operations looking for him.

A statement attributed to Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, called the release of the commanders from Gitmo as a “great victory.”

The trade told the world that America was now willing to deal with terrorists. It also broke a law that requires congressional notification of such a trade, and a longstanding pledge that America would never negotiate with terrorists. There is also a federal statute which makes it a felony to provide material assistance to any terrorist organization. It makes no exception for who and under what circumstances.

Col. Schaffer spoke of a “titanic struggle behind the scenes” with the Army trying to do the right thing while the White House worried about the images of a president welcoming the parents of someone now charged with desertion and an ugly terrorist trade-for-deserter narrative coming out.

At the time, several of the men from Bergdahl’s unit came forward to say that he was a deserter. President Obama was taken aback, for he thought that Americans would cheer one of our boys being rescued after five years as a hostage of the Taliban.

It will come out. Too much has already been made public. Obama, as far as I know, has never accepted blame for a mistake or an error in judgment. He may claim credit for someone else’s accomplishments, but he is never, never to blame. It’s going to be interesting.

Advanced Technology vs. Sixth Century Barbarism by The Elephant's Child

A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog"

Our military is facing some big problems that they don’t acknowledge publicly. The Pentagon is supposed to prepare for the next war so that we will never again be as unprepared as we were on December 7, 1941. And as unprepared as we were when North Korea invaded the South, and — but we are never really prepared, and that is a problem that the military has to wrestle with. DARPA is doing fantastic things with robots and drones, and all sorts of things we don’t know about, in the assumption that future wars will be technologically far more advanced and we must be ready. Do you go with technological magic, or inexpensive drones?

Yet at the same time we are confronted with a Middle East aflame and threats of terrorism all over the world. One threat is the Islamic State, a 6th Century ideology attacking a 21st Century world with 6th century barbarity and captured modern weapons. They advance by massacring everyone who does not submit, in the most brutal way possible.

The Pentagon seems to be more interested in fighting the next war than the current one, which is not surprising since the Obama administration clearly does not want to fight the current war, nor does it want to directly address the potential of a 6th Century ideology with nuclear weapons. So there we are. We have an administration that does not understand foreign policy, opposes war in any form, misidentifies our allies and enemies, and wants an America that is just an ordinary nation, no more exceptional than any other — in other words, he has never thought much about it except to hate everything George W. Bush.

The Pentagon wants to get rid of the A-10 Thunderbolt, pictured above. It is beloved by U.S. ground troops because it is designed specifically for close air support. It is nicknamed the Warthog because it is ugly. It has been in the Air Force since the 1970s and flown combat missions since the 1990s. It is not designed for dogfights with fighter jets, but to go low and slow over a battlefield eliminating enemy troops and their equipment. It has a titanium armored belly to protect pilots from ground fire, and carries a 30mm Gatling gun cannon and a variety of bombs, missiles and rockets, and terrifies ISIS fighters.

Unfortunately, the easiest place to chop the budget, according to the accountants, is the military budget. Desk-bound bureaucrats decide the fate of American troops, and rules of engagement are devised by bureaucrats with no understanding of war, the military or battle, and are anxious to prevent any criticism from the world’s ill-informed talkers. Force requirements should be dictated by battlefield requirements, not budget restraints.

The Pentagon is in love, but also deeply committed to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Its the most expensive military weapons program in history, but that may just be the new normal. The plane is supposed to fulfill the needs of the Marines, the Navy and the Air Force for an unknown number of years,  It may have passed the point of no return because the DOD has spent so much time and money on cost overruns and the increasing price tag.

A March report from the Government Accountability Office said “If F-35 procurement plans remain unchanged and developmental testing continues into 2018, the cost risks will increase and DOD expects to have invested $83.4 billion in 459 aircraft by that point in time. That works out to around $180 million per plane. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, says it can get the cost down to about $85 million per plane by 2019 as it fills more orders from our allies. Here is a long and more technical article about the tests ahead for the Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants.

Other countries are building air forces composed of low-cost robots. Spending on military robots is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2018, but their capabilities are less proven than existing systems and could end up on the budget chopping block. Here is a lengthy article on “What We Could Buy Instead,” though that’s not really a fair discussion. There are always things you could do instead.

Experts are raising doubts about nearly all of the F-35’s key features: it’s stealthiness, it’s agility in dogfights, its speed, maximum payload, and specifically its ability to fly close air support —the feature most needed in today’s battles with ISIS. There are grave doubts that it can fulfill that

A NSA briefing slide labeled “Top Secret” and headlined “Chinese Exfiltrate Sensitive Military Data” was made public by Der Spiegel which indicated that the Chinese were able to obtain digital design information , F-35 engine schematics, methods and treatments that they were able to include in the design and technology in Beijing’s new stealth jet, the J-20. “The NSA estimated in the briefing slide that the Chinese had conducted more than 30,000 cyber attacks as part of the massive defense industrial espionage, and that more than 500 attacks were significant intrusions into DoD systems.

Photo comparisons of the F-35 and the J-20 revealed remarkable similarities in appearance. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said “the so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified,” on January 19.

Fortunately we have new members of Congress who have military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and understand the problems we face. Martha McSally was even an A-10 Warthog pilot.

From “War In The Absence of Strategic Clarity” by Mark Helprin by The Elephant's Child

From September 17, 2003

The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought. And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right. The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Not surprisingly, militant Islam arises from and makes its base in the Arab Middle East. The first objective of the war, therefore, must be to offer every state in the area this choice: eradicate all support for terrorism within your borders or forfeit The first existence as a state. That individual terrorists will subsequently flee to the periphery is certain, but the first step must be to deny them their heartland and their citadels.

Borrowed from Gerard Vanderleun @ American Digest

Scandal In Kabul, Afghanistan. Hard For Us To Understand. by The Elephant's Child

The New York Post ran these pictures with the headline “Afghan woman shocks onlookers by baring her legs.”

A “mystery woman” ditched her burqa in Kabul and walked briskly around with her legs showing! The act stunned the people she passed and scandalized the country’s mullahs.

The photographer, local journalist Hayat Ensafi, said  “I was shocked. I knew I had to catch this special moment because I never saw a woman here walking down the streets like this.” He tried to talk to her, “but she walked very fast and didn’t talk to me at all.” He  posted the photo on Facebook, and it has gone viral.

The BBC’s Syed Anwar said “We have seen thousands of people talk about it, not only on social media, but also in the streets, people are talking about her, wondering if she is mentally ill or if she is protesting.”

It was not always so, but now Afghan women live under a very severe dress code. During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, women’s rights made some progress. Skirts were common, but many women still wore veils. The Taliban rolled back any women’s rights and it is back to the burqa. Some have argued that this will be used to pave the way for Taliban propaganda. It indicates how modern Western television, movies and publications are threatening to the mullahs.



afghan women in 1950s
Afghan women in the 1950’s. Says a lot about Muslim men too, at least in Afghanistan.


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