American Elephants

Why the Netanyahu Speech Matters by The Elephant's Child

Matthew Continetti has written an excellent column at the Free Beacon on why Bibi’s speech matters. “It exposes the Iran deal as indefensible—and Obama’s politics as bankrupt.”

The emerging nuclear deal with Iran is indefensible. The White House knows it. That is why President Obama does not want to subject an agreement to congressional approval, why critics of the deal are dismissed as warmongers, and why the president, his secretary of state, and his national security adviser have spent several weeks demonizing the prime minister of Israel for having the temerity to accept an invitation by the U.S. Congress to deliver a speech on a subject of existential import for his small country. These tactics distract public attention. They turn a subject of enormous significance to American foreign policy into a petty personal drama. They prevent us from discussing what America is about to give away.

And America is about to give away a lot. This week the AP reported on what an agreement with Iran might look like: sanctions relief in exchange for promises to slow down Iranian centrifuges for 10 years. At which point the Iranians could manufacture a bomb—assuming they hadn’t produced one in secret. Iran would get international legitimacy, assurance that military intervention was not an option, and no limitations on its ICBM programs, its support for international terrorism, its enrichment of plutonium, its widespread human rights violations, and its campaign to subvert or co-opt Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria. Then it can announce itself as the first Shiite nuclear power.

Do read the whole thing:  Matthew Continetti zeroes in on the specific points on why the Obama administration is trying to do such an impossible deal, why Obama wants it, and why he’s deeply mistaken. The greatest danger is that the world perceives Obama as a weak president who cannot be depended on at any. Urgently  needed weapons may or may not be delivered, rescue may or may not happen, decisions may or may not be made, or may endlessly be postponed.

Obama believes he was elected to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was not. He was elected to be the first black president. He is terrified of being a ‘war’ president, and wants to avoid confrontation at all costs. Which results in the Ukraine, Cuba, Chinese adventurism, ISIS and Libya, Syria, and the potential return of Afghanistan to Taliban control.

“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.

Did Obama Just Turn the Page on The Complications of the Middle East? by The Elephant's Child

The Saudi royal family are building a 600 mile barrier to fortify the northern frontier of the kingdom. The fence will have radar surveillance towers, command centers and guard posts aiming to protect the Saudi’s oil-rich kingdom from ISIS. There was a suicide bombing and gun attack a week ago which killed two Saudi border guards and their commanding officer. No group claimed responsibility but the attack in a remote desert area came from Iraq’s Anbar province. Relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia are reportedly deeply strained.

The fence will be built in five layers with razor wire fencing, then a razor wire pyramid, underground movement sensors, then another razor wire fence in top of sand bank, There will be 40 watchtowers equipped with radars and day and night cameras, 7 command and control towers, 18 communication towers and 32 military response stations, 240 rapid response vehicles and 10 surveillance vehicles, not to count patrolling aircraft. I think they mean business.

The capture of the Holy Mosques at Medina and Mecca is reported to be a key ISIS objective. Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi kingdom. The Royal government is Sunni and there is a significant Shiia minority.

The Wall Street Journal’s weekend interview with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal last November suggested that the Saudi royal family was not happy with the Obama administration’s approach to the Middle East. One of some three dozen living grandsons of the first Saudi King Abdulaziz, this prince is the Arab world’s richest businessman.

The Saudis are deeply concerned about Iran’s efforts to build their nuclear program. They have pre-emptively  condemned any agreement that does not dismantle Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and build a bomb. If Iran does go nuclear, Saudi Arabia would not be far behind. When the U.S. distanced itself from Egypt after the military coup, Russia offered Cairo arms and support.

Here at home, President Obama is “turning the page.” He is still bragging about departing from Iraq and Afghanistan without any sense of his own responsibility for the rise if ISIS. His response:

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Congress wants to get a little better information and has invited Bibi Netanyahu to speak to them. The White House is offended.

Why Do You Assume That Things Have to Make Sense? by The Elephant's Child

The Left seems to believe that President Obama’s climate deal with China is a great accomplishment. It commits the United States to continue the downward slope of our  CO² emissions for the next 16 years. Quite a commitment. China, on the other hand, can continue building coal-fired power plants at the rate of one a day for the next 16 years, then China will put a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Such a deal! Even calling this a deal should be terminally embarrassing. Obama is  once again proclaiming himself the source of all law.

One nation after another is discovering that renewable energy is essentially a fraud and cannot exist without constant backup from conventional power sources. Obama ‘s unenforceable agreement with China allows Beijing free rein in building up their energy infrastructure, yet he has put severe restrictions on funding projects in Africa that are linked to fossil fuel energy, insisting that such poor countries use expensive and unaffordable renewable energy. He’s happy to allow China and India to develop, but at the same time kill the African dream of development and progress.

“A new paper published yesterday in the Journal of Atmospheric and  Solar-Terrestrial Physics finds a “strong and stable correlation” between the millennial variations in sunspots and the temperature in Antarctica over the past 11.000 years. In stark contrast, the authors find no strong or stable correlation between temperature and CO² over that same period.” In other words, there is strong evidence that the Sun has controlled climate over the past 11.000 years, not CO².

Forty years ago, the experts said that the cold, snowy winters in the East were caused by global cooling and excess Arctic ice. Today, the experts say that cold snowy winters are caused by global warming and a deficiency of Arctic ice. So there you go. Whoever said that things have to make sense?

Quarantine or A Time for Contemplation? by The Elephant's Child

Had I been to West Africa treating Ebola patients, I would surely understand the reason that I might be quarantined. I can’t imagine many things worse than having to live with the knowledge that I had caused someone else’s illness or death.

So, faced with being quarantined for 21 days, what could you do about it? Can I assume a laptop, a phone and a TV, a bed, a shower and a bathroom? I could knit a sweater, take a couple of online courses, call friends to chat, watch movies, build a model, read the books I have been wanting to have time to read. I could write a diary of my quarantine, real or imaginary. Most of us complain about not having enough time for the things we want to do, and ordinary life intrudes.

A phone, a laptop and a credit card will get you exactly the materials you need, and the gift of free time gives you the time for study or contemplation. Is that really all bad? Boredom is a choice, not a given.

On the other hand, when members of the military are quarantined on their return, are they quarantined together, when one exposed person could expose the whole group or separately? Has anybody thought that one through?

Yoo Hoo, Mr. President! Yoo Hoo, Tom Frieden! by The Elephant's Child

Take the time to watch the whole thing. Straight Talk, for the first time!

A Sane Man Speaks on Ebola:
“If West Africa is a gas can that was waiting for a match,
the rest of Central Africa is a gasoline tanker waiting for a match,
and nobody anywhere has a Plan B for what happens
if this gets out further….”

This is Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), originally aired on C-SPAN.

Finally, straight talk! Contrary to the emanations of the media, the American people have not been “panicking” about Ebola. Most of us have not been to West Africa nor do we know anyone who has. But we do recognize that it is a hell of a nasty virus, and in Africa, a very large percentage of the people who get it — die in a nasty way.

We want to believe that our government grasps the worst potentials of this disease, and is truthful and straightforward with the information they give us, and knows what they are talking about, and knows what they don’t know. And is just not trying, once again to cover their own behinds and avoid any blame for mistakes. That really isn’t asking too much. We are quite as much adults, if not more so, that the elites in the nation’s capitol.

(h/t: Vanderleun)

There Will Be Human Error. That is Our Nature. by The Elephant's Child

The unfolding epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has killed more than 4,400 people so far. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the newly to be built Ebola treatment centers are very tardy.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research. It was a bat-infested facility, a compound of World War II-era buildings that could only process 40 blood specimens a day, with electricity that worked only intermittently. The U.S. has sent in workers to rewire the building, fix the plumbing, install Internet access and update testing equipment. The lab can now process 70 specimens a day and are hoping to hit 100 soon.

The military is building the Ebola center in Bomi County, which has two doctors for 89,000 people. The Liberia Government Hospital, next to the Ebola site hasn’t had a working X-ray machine for two years. At the Tubmanburg Ebola site, the U.S. military has gone with tents instead of roofed structures to save time, and avoided laying foundations when possible. The first unit is expected to open in early November, The staff workers have had about two weeks of .intensive training. Soldiers will soon have floodlights to work around-the-clock shifts. They are essentially creating a health system from the ground up, on extreme deadlines.

On top of building treatment centers, they must build at least temporary housing and basic services for 4,000 military. Our federal government may be paralyzed by bureaucracy and political correctness, but the military is trained to pick up and go where they are ordered to go and complete the tasks assigned.

If everything goes smoothly, all will be well, but there’s a lot of room there for human error. And there will be errors. The insistence on claiming that Ebola is not airborne is troubling. Saliva and nasal secretions are bodily fluids. Aerosols are created by sneezing and coughing. The droplets that are really, really fine particles can, according to Dr. Jane Orient, director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, can infect you with one to ten particles. They can go through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs. Theoretically, she said, it certainly is an aerosol. We cannot rule it out.

Obama’s stubborn insistence on no travel ban is more perplexing, as is the claim that he wants to bring infected patients from Africa here for treatment, but our troops can be treated in Liberia, should they become infected. The situation in Liberia has improved somewhat, there aren’t dead bodies lying around in the streets any more. Out in the villages, who knows.


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