American Elephants


Obama’s Huge Problem with the “Rules of Engagement” Threatens Our Troops by The Elephant's Child

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Up till now, the U.S. Army could have engaged with ISIS in Afghanistan — only if  the group “posed a threat to the U.S.” which meant they had to be designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Obama has changed the rules of engagement so they can now pursue ISIS-K  (ISIS-Khorasan) in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a terrorist organization.

The designation of the group as a “terrorist organization” means the US also prohibits any cooperation with or supply of material or resources to the group.

ISIS-K was formed a year ago in January by a group of militants who defected from the Tehrik-e Taliban and pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. So Obama’s only a year late in protecting our troops.

“ISIS-K already is believed to be responsible for suicide and small-arms attacks and kidnappings, targeting civilians and Afghan government officials,” CNN reported.

President Obama has had an interesting relationship with the rules of engagement since he became president. The massacre at Fort Hood happened because soldiers on the base were forbidden to carry weapons. And that’s only one of the examples.

American planes in Syria, once they have found a significant target, have to radio back to base to get permission to actually bomb it, and then it goes up the chain of command who decide if there is any risk of killing civilians, so most of the missions reportedly return to base with bombs intact. And it was recently reported that bombing missions had to drop leaflets telling civilians on the ground to run away because we were going to drop bombs on those oil trucks.

In the first four years of the Obama administration — 3 times as many Americans were killed in Afghanistan as in the 8 years of George W. Bush’s conduct of the war — and there was no prospect of victory.

Under Obama, there were 8,000 Islamic terrorist attacks on infidels across the globe — a 25% increase over the period when fighting in Iraq was at its peak. The administration dropped the designation “War on Terror” and replaced it with “overseas contingency operations.” Any student of language could tell you things about that wording.

Obama has a peculiar relationship with national security. I have always suspected that he never saw a war movie, unless it was an anti-war film, never studied the history of the United States and never read a military history. He goes to great lengths to make a show of protecting civilians, but blithely orders drone attacks on gatherings of terrorist  wedding parties or  family gatherings. He really likes Special Forces because they added the death of bin-Laden to his legacy. But he demonstrates his unfamiliarity with things military when he says things like ‘corpse man’ and gets his grandfather’s service in Patton’s Army all confused.

Leaving our troops on the battlefield without the ability to shoot back is simply unconscionable. His reported daily briefings in 3 short paragraphs with 3 choices of action don’t allow for much discussion of pros and cons or alternatives.

Obama ran for the presidency using the Iraq War and George W, Bush as a foil. Public support for the war had begun to decline, and there was a specific unrecognized reason for that. And there was the same reason behind Obama’s attempt to blame every criticism of his actions on George W. Bush.

(h/t: weasel zippers)



Strategy? What Strategy? by The Elephant's Child

The Obama family has headed to Hawaii for their Christmas vacation. The president  stopped off in San Bernardino to meet with the families of victims after a lot of murmurs in the press about why he seemed reluctant to do so. Someone said something about his remarks before he left, so I went to the White House website to see.
……………………………………….…………………..

What I ran into was a major posting  titled : ISIL STRATEGY: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat ISIL and Combat the Terrorist Threat. (headed with a picture of an empty presidential podium.)

WHO WE’RE FIGHTING • WHAT WE’RE DOING • MORE TO DO

Here’s a look at the evolution of ISIL and the terrorist threat.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. We answered that tragic attack by hardening our defenses and critical infrastructure, disrupting countless plots and pursuing terrorist networks overseas, disrupting safe haven in different countries, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership, including the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. …

(Is that the weirdest recitation of our history since 9/11 — ever?)

Here is a link to the whole document. I urge you to read the whole thing (won’t take long) because it is simply bizarre.  And truly frightening. Under the subhead Here are some of the actions we’ve taken:

Since the November 13 attacks in Paris a number of Coalition partners including Belgium, Germany, Kuwait Tunisia, made arrests to break up ISIL and ISIL-inspired terrorist cells.

Notes of small attacks,plans, announcements, plans, deployments, even airstrikes by the coalition, destroyed 283 ISIL oil tanker trucks, 120 ISIL oil storage tanks and “a significant amount of oil field infrastructure” in Eastern Syria.

More plans, announcements, plans. France deployed an aircraft carrier to the eastern Med., humanitarian efforts, humanitarian support. A reinvigorated political track in Syria with a “path towards a Syrian-led political transition process.”

Frequent big colored background boxes announcing the desperate need to make sure that no one on a NO Fly List is able to buy a gun or buy powerful assault weapons. (aside: The New York Times said today that the “powerful assault weapon” was nonsense). Video at the bottom, of Obama saying once again the “Our fight to defeat ISIS is not a war with Islam.”

All sorts of people who are not dangerous end up on the NO FLY LIST. it is clearly useless. Michael Medved’s 11 year old son was on the list, Nobody knew why and it was hard to get him off.

Journalist Deroy Murdock wrote on November 27 that “America’s role in the Global War on Terror grows stranger by the hour. President Obama’s fight against ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists — such as it is — has entered the Twilight Zone. That is the only explanation for Obama’s increasingly bizarre tactics and statements against these existentially dangerous savages….”

“After 15 months of airstrikes against ISIS, America finally managed to bomb 116 trucks that smuggle oil out of ISIS territory, generating some $1.2 million in clandestine cash daily. ”

“This is our first strike against tanker trucks,” Operation Inherent Resolve Colonel Steve Warren told journalists from Baghdad on November 18.”
“To minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike.” Each leaflet reads, “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them.” It continues, “Warning: Airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”

If someone is driving an oil tanker to earn the money for ISIS to buy the materials for more suicide vests or bomb-making materials they are welcome to get blown up along with the tanker. Let’s have a nice war where we don’t have to kill anybody? Surreal.

Wars are about killing people and breaking things until the enemy is so decimated and broken that they have to abjectly surrender with no ability to ever renew the fight. It’s hard to imagine that someone can turn 50 years old and not know that, but the president is a Progressive. When Hollywood gets closer to the truth than the White House, we’re in trouble.

Recommended Reading: “‘Degrading’ ISIS Is Not a Serious Strategy.” by Douglas Feith & Mario Loyola. Feith, the author of War and Decision, was Under Secretary of Defense for policy from 2001 to 2005. Loyola is a former counsel for foreign and defense policy to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee and a former special assistant at the Pentagon. They do know something about what they’re talking about.


Impressions From Last Night’s Debate by The Elephant's Child

20151219_blp903I mostly listened to the debate last night on the radio. My CNN connection kept going haywire, so I only saw a small bit on CNN. Apparently that makes a difference. Whatever their political viewpoint, viewers could not help but be impressed with the quality of the Republican field. The discussion was serious, well-informed and lengthy. The candidates were well informed on national security, and on how to deal with ISIS, Syria, Russia, Iran and domestic terrorism with real differences of opinion, which is as it should be.

Several pundits declared Donald Trump the debate winner, but I thought it was clear that he was just not prepared to go beyond his usual bombast. He did manage to tell the audience innumerable times that he was leading the polls, he had the highest approval, he was winning. He just doesn’t understand the very complicated situation, and has no strategy at all.   “I have 41% in the polls” is a brag, not a qualification.

Lindsey Graham was terrific in the earlier debate. He had just been to Iraq again, and spoke to the situation on the ground informed by the troops on the ground.

Carly Fiorina is clearly one of the best informed, and gives the most responsive and responsible answers to questions — yet has not really managed to break through to the top, where she belongs. Her tenure at HP was impressive. She handled some really difficult circumstances with courage, put the company on a path to success, and frankly has a better record of experience than most of the other candidates. I have wondered if , since Republicans are uniformly unimpressed with the “first woman to” idea, and invested in merit and qualifications just can’t get past the fact that candidates for President of the United States have always been men.

Chris Christie excels at tough-talking campaigning. He can be very assertive and very believable. John Kasich corrected from his angry, grumpy appearance at the last debate. Jeb Bush was better, but not breakthrough better.

I am far from picking a candidate, and in spite of the media’s insistence on making this all a horse race and proclaiming winners and losers, most Americans are just getting acquainted with the candidates. I was really enthusiastic at the beginning with so many governors who had real accomplishments in the running — but Scott Walker, Rick Perry and  Bobby Jindal have all dropped out. I am not enthusiastic about one-term senators. Been there, done that. And it didn’t work out well.

 



Obama Summed Up His Foreign Own Policy in Just 60 Words by The Elephant's Child

barack-obama_1Ted Cruz pointed out last week that Obama made a stunning indictment of his own policies in a news conference in Turkey. Have you noticed that Mr. Obama has a habit of criticizing his own country when he is abroad? Unpleasant characteristic. Here’s what Obama said:

What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning,’ or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and protect our allies and people like France.

That’s apparently what he actually believes, and a remarkably clear description of his foreign policy. No wonder he’s made such a mess of it.



The Progressive Gitmo Myth. by The Elephant's Child

guantanamo_protest_cc_img5When I had just finished the last post on Guantanamo Bay, I ran across a post last year, from Hoover fellow Bruce Thornton, entitled “The Progressive Gitmo Myth.” He added several points that are especially pertinent. Do read the whole thing.

For Obama’s liberal base, Gitmo has been part of a larger narrative of American tyranny, particularly George Bush’s alleged lawlessness in waging an “illegal” and “unnecessary” war in Iraq. Once Howard Dean’s anti-war presidential primary insurgency took off after the war began in 2003, mainstream Democrats began endorsing the far-left “Bush lied” analysis of the war that John Edwards, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton had voted for based on the same intelligence that led to the Bush administration’s decision. With the anti-war movement providing the visuals for television news, the left’s distorted history of Vietnam was resurrected to provide the template for the war in Iraq, particularly the charge that the Bush administration had lied about Hussein’s WMDs, just as Lyndon Johnson had allegedly fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Soon the whole litany of American militarist evils was applied to Iraq and the war against terrorists and their enablers. Torture, illegal detention, and abuse of prisoners were staples of that catalogue, and for leftists Gitmo fit the bill.

Soon we were hearing that Gitmo was a “gulag,” “the Bermuda Triangle of human rights,” a “shocking affront to democracy,” and a “national disgrace.” The New York Times, paying heed to charges by detainees trained to lie, said Guantanamo exemplified “harsh, indefinite detention without formal charges or legal recourse” and recalled “the Soviet Union’s sprawling network of Stalinist penal colonies.” Such hysteria, of course, has no basis in fact.

In 2004, a report by Albert T. Church III concluded, “We can confidentially state that based upon our investigation, we found nothing that would in any way substantiate detainees’ allegations of torture or violent physical abuse at GTMO.” Almost all the interrogations at Gitmo were conducted according to the Army Field Manual approved by Obama himself. Conditions for the prisoners at Gitmo far outstrip those in most prisons, including in the United States. Jihadists involved in planning, aiding, and participating in the murders of Americans can play sports, work out on gym equipment, hang out with their comrades, learn English, take art lessons, peruse a library of 14,000 Arab-language books, and view satellite television, including Al Jazeera. They get first-class health care and nutrition, and their food is prepared according to halal standards of ritual purity––all that good grub has led to the “Gitmo gut.” Islamic holidays are respected, Korans handled by guards with delicate care, magazines censored to remove images disturbing to pious Muslims, and arrows painted on the floors pointing to Mecca to guide the prisoners in their daily prayers. Rush Limbaugh is justified in calling Guantánamo “Club Gitmo.”

Yet despite these facts, the myth has arisen that the existence of Gitmo, as the Wall Street Journal summarized liberal thinking, “symbolizes prisoner abuse, serving as a propaganda tool for extremists and complicating counterterrorism efforts with allies.” The incoherence of this argument points to the larger problems of American foreign policy in dealing with jihadism.

Goodness, if everybody doesn’t love us, there must be something really terrible about America. We really don’t need to give a bunch of terrorists the constitutional rights enjoyed by American citizens, nor the pro bono legal counsel. They will be back to beheading their enemies directly.



There Are Some Problems With Obama’s Legacy by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturingPresident Obama remarked the other day that if he were able to run for another term he was sure he would be re-elected. I imagine that he is confident because his policies are succeeding so well that everyone would look forward to a continuation. I’m not really so sure. Some of us are onto him.

The U.S. confirms Iran launched a “missile inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.” It’s only one example of President Obama’s nuclear deal unleashing the world’s foremost terrorist regime.

In announcing that Iran violated a United Nations Security Council resolution with its Oct. 10 launch of a ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power promised that the U.S. would prepare a report and swiftly raise the issue with the Security Council.

“The Security Council prohibition on Iran’s ballistic missile activities, as well as the arms embargo, remain in place,” Power said.

We did mention that the Ayatollah was fairly clear that he had no intention of hewing to the strictures of Obama’s Iran Deal.

ObamaCare enrollment will flatline this next year, The sixth health insurance co-op has gone belly-up. Train-wreck is a common description. In other words, enrollment will be about half what the CBO predicted. Enrollment will have declined from where it was in March. Rate increases have been skyrocketing and some have been as much as 50 percent. The fine for not buying government-approved insurance will go up to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greatest. Democrats thought the nonprofits would put downward pressure on premiums and arranged for billions ($761,947,628) in guaranteed loans to get them up and running. Obama says the program is working better than anyone expected.

Victor Davis Hanson notes that Barack Obama’s mistakes in the Middle East are so comprehensive they almost look deliberate.

How did Vladimir Putin — with his country reeling from falling oil prices, possessing only a second-rate military, in demographic free-fall, and suffering from an array of international sanctions — find himself the new play-maker of the Middle East?
Putin’s ascendancy was not foreordained. It followed a series of major U.S. miscalculations and blunders of such magnitude that it almost seems they must have been deliberate.
Dr. Hansen lists six major mistakes: 1) The reset with Putin. 2)The Skedaddle from Iraq; 3) The Red-Line Invitation into the Middle East. 4) The Iran Deal.  5) Estrangement from Our Friends. 6) Neglect of Oil.  Do read the Whole Thing. The likely consequences of the President’s mistakes will be really bad, and left for the next president to deal with.
The Left has plotted to impoverish America’s Middle Class and enrich Left-Wing billionaires. The environmental movement is the most corrupt in America.

Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigative report, Private Interests & Public Office: Coordination Between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-“Founded and Funded” Network of Advocacy Groups to Advance the “Climate” Agenda (and an appendix of source documents), revealing a vast, coordinated, three-track effort by public officials and private interests to promote EPA’s expansive, overreaching and economically devastating greenhouse gas rules, specifically the section 111(d) regulation to shut the nation’s fleet of existing coal-fired power plants, as well as the December Paris climate treaty President Obama is expected to sign to replace the Kyoto Protocol. …

In what is possibly the most intriguing element, seemingly out of an episode of “House of Cards,” Democratic governors’ aides repeatedly reference a plan of “creative engagement” to “compel” certain electric utilities — those subject to their jurisdiction whose businesses cross lines into states led by Republicans — to bring “red state” governors around to support the EPA rules: “[B]ecause there are key utilities whose service territories cross red and blue states Governors in these states could quietly engineer a breakthrough strategy that compels utilities in key red states to lead the charge to win over a key Governor, rather than rely on a standard NGO-shaming strategy that might not deliver.”…

“[W]hat is clear is that 1%-ers are using ‘climate’ policies to destroy politically disfavored industries in order to transfer wealth to the politically preferred,” said Craig Richardson, E&E Legal Executive Director. “The campaign by self-serving individuals must be made known to the public as policymakers consider this plan that will destroy parts of our economy and ruin the most efficient, affordable, and clean energy system ever created.”



Obama Doesn’t Want Any Advice, Thank You Very Much! by The Elephant's Child

leadBig-0b16e62c331a5b2030f4f0923a17994bEliot Cohen reports that the president has no interest in hearing strategic recommendations.

Criticize the Administration’s Syria policy without providing alternative recommendations, and the President will dismiss you for mere carping. Argue, say, for a no-fly zone, however, and you will be dismissed for lacking the information and advice that only the President can have. Either way, in his view, you are a dummy, or, as he so artfully said of his previous Secretary of State, a peddler of “mumbo jumbo.”

This pervasive contempt for the views of others is one of the President’s greatest weaknesses and least attractive traits. Inevitably, it percolates throughout his Administration and prevails in particular at the White House. Yet it seems not to deter those on the outside—apolitical experts, some Democrats, and not a few veterans of Republican Administrations—from attempting, in all sincerity, to devise and argue for alternative approaches.Not only are their efforts pointless—if Obama is his own strategist, why should he listen to you, foolish or wicked veterans of the Bush Administration?—they are misguided. One can only judge a policy on its implementation, and although a no-fly zone conceived by a tough-minded Commander in Chief and implemented by Bob Gates might be just the thing, a no-fly zone put into place by the President who brought you vanishing red lines, a botched withdrawal from Iraq, the reset with Russia that wasn’t, repeated groveling apologies for the inevitable accidents of war, and much else, could be a debacle.

Marc Thiessen writing in the Washington Post quoted Tommy Vietor as explaining why his boss has skipped more than half his daily intelligence meetings since taking office – including every day in the week leading up to the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya: Obama, they say, doesn’t need briefers because he is just so much smarter than everyone else. As Vietor put it to me in an email, “Unlike your former boss [President Bush], he has it delivered to his residence in the morning and not briefed to him.”

The White House takes pride in the fact that Obama’s PDB is “not briefed to him” – because, they say, he is “among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.” That hubris brings to mind this revealing quote from a September 2008 New York Times profile of Obama:

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Another problem of the Information Age: What you say can come back to haunt you forever, and often YouTube is there to prove that you did, indeed, say it.

A second piece from the American Interest continues from Eliot Cohen’s piece and points out  a similar article in Politico confirming the president’s unwillingness to listen to anyone on the issue of Syria, including those in his administration. Here’s the essential paragraph:

Sources familiar with administration deliberations said that Obama’s West Wing inner circle serves as a brick wall against dissenting views. The president’s most senior advisers — including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough — reflect the president’s wariness of escalated U.S. action related to Syria or Russia and, officials fear, fail to push Obama to question his own deeply rooted assumptions. “Susan and Denis channel him,” says a former administration official who has witnessed the dynamic.

The attitude has alienated Russia experts in the Administration:

Obama’s refusal to take firmer action against Moscow has increasingly isolated several of his administration’s Russia specialists, who almost uniformly take a harder line toward Putin than does the president himself. They include Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs; Celeste Wallander, the National Security Council’s senior director for Russia and Eurasia; and Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Farkas’ recent announcement that she will exit the Obama administration this fall raised eyebrows among officials aware of her frustration that Obama hasn’t responded more forcefully to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his support for pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east. (Farkas has told friends that she is not resigning over policy disputes.)

Eliot Cohen’s important article is here.

Obama has decided that we will stay in Afghanistan. Too bad he didn’t give such consideration to the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq.




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