American Elephants


An Historic Speech, Will It Change the World? by The Elephant's Child

NetCongSmilePodiumSideHseofReps3-3-15_600.jpg.cmsVictor Davis Hanson made the decisive comment on the Obama response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech yesterday, back on February 10, almost a month before the speech was delivered.

Snark is a popular word used for a particular sort of off-putting sarcasm. Snarkiness can manifest itself as adolescent cheap shots, snide condescension, or simple ad hominem patronizing — a sort of “I know you are, but what am I?” schoolyard name-calling. Its incessant use is typically connected with a peevishness born out of juvenile insecurity, and sometimes fed by an embarrassing envy.

Israel’s Prime Minister was eloquent, moving, determined, and humble. He expressed his gratitude to America, and to President Obama for his aid to Israel. He delivered a detailed indictment of both Iran’s intentions and the sellout deal that the Obama administration is drafting in Geneva.

Obama had done everything in his power to cancel, delay and undermine the speech before it was delivered, including putting out the idea that the Netanyahu appearance was somehow “disrespectful” to the president, and had offended by ignoring the customary protocol between nations. The White House was carefully notified before the Prime Minister accepted the Congressional invitation, and there was nothing disrespectful about his appearance. He emphasized the close relations between the two nations and his gratitude for all that America has done for Israel.

After the speech President Obama, in an arranged photo-op, spent eleven minutes claiming that he didn’t even watch the address, though apparently Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei did, and then Obama snarkily added that “there was nothing new in it” anyway.

It’s too bad that Obama didn’t listen. This was the third time that Mr. Netanyahu had addressed Congress, a record shared only with Winston Churchill, whom Obama didn’t like either. The Prime Minister was interrupted with thunderous applause some 40 times. Extra folding chairs were set up in the chamber to accommodate the overflow crowd. Thanks to administration pettiness, the speech drew intense international interest, and was broadcast around the globe. It was an historic speech.

Our two nations, Netanyahu said, share” the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope.”He traced Iran’s history since the revolution in 1979:” America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad. And as states collapse across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s speech may make the Iran deal a tougher sell for Obama. The President was hoping to slip it in under the claim that it was not “a treaty” but merely a minor deal that didn’t require Congressional approval, so wouldn’t be presented to Congress. He is really going way too far with this executive order stuff. It is not just about him — its about the safety of America and of Israel. Iran is not going to notify anyone that they have completed their search for a bomb. Israel and Washington D.C. will just be smoking holes in the ground. It’s not about Obama’s “legacy” — it’s about survival.

If you didn’t watch the speech, take the time to watch it now or again. Or read the transcript. It was a stirring, historic, and thought provoking address that will enter the catalog of the world’s great speeches.



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.



The Obama Administration Campaigns to Get The Whole World to Tune In To the Netanyahu Speech Tomorrow by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama administration has done a marvelous job of advertising the Netanyahu speech before a joint session of  Congress tomorrow. The entire world will be listening. The president asked the Black Caucus in Congress to boycott the speech, and clearly suggested that the rest of the Democrats in Congress do the same.

The suggestion was floated that Netanyahu had ‘disrespected’ the president by not seeking permission to give the speech. When it was correctly mentioned that the Congress of the United States does not require presidential permission to invite anyone they damn well please to speak to them, the story became protocol—it was proper diplomatic protocol to let the White House know when another head of state would be coming to the U.S. — and then it was revealed that the White House had indeed been informed before Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted the Congressional invitation.

The lapdog media were still putting the false story about yesterday that Netanyahu had somehow disrespected President Obama.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday morning as “arrogant” for asserting that he speaks for all Jews in his upcoming speech to Congress. She huffed’ “He doesn’t speak for me on this. I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel” Prime Minister Netanyahu does speak for the people of his country, who are mostly, but not all, Jewish. I rather doubt that he meant to speak specifically for Senator Feinstein.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice went on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” and said that the decision of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invite Netanyahu without consulting the White House, and Netanyahu’s decision to accept, had “injected a degree of partisanship” into the relationship between the two nations.

“Which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” she said.

The Prime Minister did notify the White House that he would accept the invitation of Congress to speak. He has no need to “consult” the White House and he does not need permission, nor does Congress need White House permission to extend the invitation. Obama has also huffily said that he would not meet with Mr. Netanyahu.

How could you possibly devise a better advertising campaign for a speech before a joint session of the American Congress?

According to the latest Gallup poll 45% of Americans view Netanyahu favorably while only 24% view him unfavorably, while the most recent Gallup poll has Obama at 44% approval and 51% disapproval. “The media did everything in its power to promote a failed boycott of the speech by Democratic lawmakers (so far only about 10% have refused to attend) and to paint those who support Netanyahu’s speech as disloyal to President Obama, and by extension America.”

President Obama’s campaign staff has been off in Israel campaigning against Netanyahu in the Israeli elections. They are private people who get paid to work in electoral campaigns, and Obama says he didn’t send them, which is probably true; but he could have insisted that they do not work in the Israeli campaign because it would look so bad for the president.

President Obama desperately wants a nuclear deal with Iran. Everyone who knows Iran keeps trying to tell the president that Iran cannot be believed at any time for any reason. When they scream “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” they really  mean it. They are the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, they have ignored ever red line, every promise to cease enriching, and made it clear that they don’t intend to stop, yet the hapless Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama are sure that next time it will be different and that the mullahs really are reasonable people who want the same things that we do.

Obama is insisting that he can make a deal with Iran without consulting with Congress, and that it’s not really a treaty, so he doesn’t have to.



Wars Are to Be Won. Enemies are to be Destroyed, Not Merely Admonished by The Elephant's Child

Poor Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman, has been endlessly held up to ridicule for her statement that “We cannot win this war by killing them.” She was simply repeating the direction of the State Department. But of course we can kill our way to victory. That’s what wars are all about.  Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish, thought so too. I thought it was funny, but Mr. Greenfield appropriately took it more seriously as a long time misdirection of the progressive mind, in a piece titled “We Can Kill Our Way to Victory”
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“We can not win this war by killing them,” Marie Harf said on MSNBC.

 Reversing thousands of years of battlefield experience in which wars were won by “killing them”, the State Department spokeswoman argued that you can’t defeat ISIS by killing its fighters.

“We can not kill our way out of this war,” she said. “We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it is lack of opportunity for jobs.”

War is one of the few things in life we can reliably kill our way out of. The United States has had a great track record of killing our way out of wars. We killed our way out of WW1. We killed our way out of WW2. The problem began when we stopped trying to kill our way out of wars and started trying to hug our way out of wars instead. Progressive academics added war to economics, terrorism and the climate in the list of subjects they did not understand and wanted to make certain that no one else was allowed to understand. Because the solution to war is so obvious that no progressive could possibly think of it.

Harf’s argument is a familiar one. There was a time when progressive reformers had convinced politicians that we couldn’t arrest, shoot, imprison or execute our way out of crime.

We couldn’t stop crime by fighting crime. Instead the root causes of crime had to be addressed. The police became social workers and criminals overran entire cities. The public demanded action and a new wave of mayors got tough on crime. While the sociologists, social workers, activists and bleeding hearts wailed that it wouldn’t work, surprisingly locking up criminals did stop them from committing crimes.

It was a revelation almost as surprising as realizing that it does take a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. Addressing root causes won’t stop a killing spree in progress. (That’s another one of those things we can and do kill our way out of.)

But bad ideas are harder to kill than bad people. And stupid ideas are the hardest ideas of all to kill.

The same plan that failed to stop street gangs and drug dealers has been deployed to defeat ISIS. Heading it up are progressives who don’t believe that killing the enemy wins wars.

General Patton told the Third Army, “The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed.” That kind of thinking is passé. General McChrystal, Obama’s favorite commander (before he had to be purged for insulting Obama) had a much better plan.

“We will not win based on the number of Taliban we kill,” he said. “We must avoid the trap of winning tactical victories—but suffering strategic defeats—by causing civilian casualties or excessive damage and thus alienating the people.”

Under Obama’s rotating shift of commanders, we avoided the trap of winning tactical victories. Instead of following Patton’s maxim, American casualties doubled. The Taliban struck closer to Kabul while US soldiers avoided engaging the enemy because they wouldn’t be given permission to attack unless the Taliban announced themselves openly while avoiding mosques or civilian buildings.

“We will not win simply by killing insurgents,” McChrystal had insisted. “We will help the Afghan people win by securing them, by protecting them from intimidation, violence and abuse.”

But we couldn’t protect the Afghan people without killing the Taliban. Civilian casualties caused by the United States fell 28 percent, but the Taliban more than made up for it by increasing their killing of civilians by 40 percent. Not only did we avoid the trap of a tactical victory, but we also suffered a strategic defeat. American soldiers couldn’t kill insurgents, protect civilians or even protect themselves. We’ve tried the McChrystal way and over 2,000 American soldiers came home in boxes from Afghanistan trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. Many more returned missing arms and legs. The Taliban poll badly among Afghans, but instead of hiring a PR expert to improve their image, a Pentagon report expects them to be encircling key cities by 2017.

Unlike our leaders, the Taliban are not worried about falling into the trap of winning tactical victories. They are big believers in killing their way to popularity. As ISIS and Boko Haram have demonstrated, winning by killing works better than trying to win by wars by winning polls.

Now the same whiz kids that looked for the root cause of the problem in Afghanistan by dumping money everywhere, including into companies linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, think that the way to beat ISIS is with unemployment centers and job training. Many of the ISIS Jihadists come from the social welfare paradises of Europe where there are more people employed to find the root causes of terrorism through welfare than there are people working to fight them. So far they haven’t had much luck either.                                  (continued below)
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Didn’t Obama Promise That Iran Would Not Be Permitted to Have Nuclear Weapons? by The Elephant's Child

Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor at The Washington Post asked “Can President Obama sell an Iran deal at home?’

If his negotiators strike an agreement next month, we already know that it will be far from ideal: Rather than eradicating Iran’s nuclear-weapons potential, as once was hoped, a pact would seek to control Iran’s activities for some limited number of years.

Such a deal might be defensible on the grounds that it is better than any alternative, given that most experts believe a military “solution” would be at best temporary and possibly counterproductive.

But making that kind of lesser-evil defense would be challenging in any circumstances. Three conditions will make it particularly hard for Obama to persuade Congress and the nation to accept his assurances in this case: the suspicious, poisonous partisanship of the moment here, with Israeli politics mixed in; worries that he wants a deal too much; and the record of his past assurances.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anything in any proposed “deal” that would control Iran’s activities for any significant period whatsoever. Straw Man. What experts believe that a military “solution”would be counterproductive? The scare quotes around solution are probably deserved. Blame all on partisanship? Sorry, Republicans are not in doubt of Obama and Kerry as negotiators because of their party preferences, but because from the past history with the mullahs of Iran, we know that you cannot believe anything they say, only consider the evidence of what they do.

To give Mr. Hiatt credit, he goes through, gently, a list of Obama’s “unfulfilled assurances” that are “less than a case of Nixonian deception than a product of wishful thinking and stubborn adherence to policies after they have faded. But before anyone can suggest that he is not following the party line,He hastens to include successes like the killing of Osama bin Laden and a “potentially groundbreaking” agreement with China on global warming. That one is utterly meaningless. There is not much anyone can say in favor of the negotiations with Iran.

Iran is being granted the “right to enrich.” It will be allowed to retain and spin thousands more centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor.Obama has accepted Iran’s demand that any restrictions on their program remain time-limited. Assuming that they would pay any attention to time limits anyway.

Did you know that Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all? It is not a part of the negotiations. So why do you suppose Iran is building intercontinental ballistic missiles anyway? Does that question not trouble either Mr Kerry or Mr, Obama? The key word there is “intercontinental.”

Iran cannot be trusted at any time, or for any reason.

The sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, but inexplicably Obama lifter them as soon as Iran demanded it. He’s really not much good at negotiating much of anything is he. That was before oil prices collapsed, which would heighten the effect of sanctions. Iran has plenty of oil for their own energy needs, less you think they are pursuing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

They keep saying that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s “new, more moderate president”, but have offered no evidence that he is more moderate, except that he smiles more than his predecessor. He said “Let anyone make his own reading, but this right is clearly stated in the text of the agreement that Iran can continue its enrichment, and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before.” Kerry countered that “nothing is agreed on until everything is agreed on.”

An Iranian dissident group known for exposing key aspects of Iran’s secret nuclear work claims it now has evidence of “an active and secret parallel nuclear program” operated by Tehran. John Kerry said ‘We know about that.’

At the core of the Obama policy is an ideological aversion to American power. there’s some belief that everyone is reasonable and wants the same things.

“Obama’s approach to the world is predicated first and foremost on his bedrock intention to be a “transformational” president. The transformation is largely domestic—hence his preoccupation with the Affordable Care Act, which remakes a rather large swath of the American economy. Abroad and in aid of the main focus on his domestic agenda (‘nation-building at home”), the president’s overwhelming objective has been to keep international affairs at bay. But when world events do inevitably impose themselves, Obama is no less confident of his unique ability  to exert a transformational impact.”

Is the “transformational impact” of this self-infatuated narcissist going to be a large hole in the United States where the nation’s capitol used to be?

Here’s some of the essential reading:

Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy by Michael Doran

What the President Thinks He’s Doing by Elliott Abrams

The Obama Doctrine by Eric Edelman

The Reform Delusion by Reuel Marc Gerecht

Now we know who to believe on Iran by David Horovitz

There’s Nothing Unpatriotic About Challenging Obama on Iran by David Harsanyi



A Winning Strategy or A Seriously Stupid Sellout? by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-tankI want to talk a little about strategy. Do I have some expertise to share? I have sailed the world with the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (the 19th); served in the Revolution with Kenneth Roberts; and the Civil War with James McPherson; Martin Gilbert took me through the First World War and the Second; I witnessed the Rape of Nanking with Iris Chang; and starved in Leningrad with Harrison Salisbury, and Stalingrad with Anthony Beevor; but I have never been in the service and have no expertise at all.

Stephen Coughlin, a leading expert on national security, says that our foreign policy community is absolutely incoherent and has lost the ability to think. Government bureaucrats, he says, have become focused on fighting narratives consistent with a post-modern, politically correct worldview rather than the facts on the ground.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka holds a Chair in Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. He points out that President Obama’s three-day summit on violent extremism empowers ISIS, by emphasizing the real grievances the Muslim world has with the West, the danger of Islamophobia in the U.S. and the need for community outreach.

ISIS’ recruiting message ” is a story of Islam under attack by the West, a perpetual Holy War against the infidel until the House of Islam—Dar al Islaam—covers the world and all live under sharia in a new Caliphate. They are indoctrinating and training 5-year-olds in Islam and weapons.

Strategy 001: You don’t tell the enemy what you are going to do, nor just when you are going to do it. It is better to keep them guessing and surprise them. Why is this so hard to understand?

While successful military strategy in wartime often hinges on surprise, the U.S. military took an unconventional path Thursday in announcing a plan to wage an early spring campaign to try to drive ISIS forces from the key city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees the military coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq outlined the size and makeup of a force that the U.S. hopes will be ready for the offensive within five weeks at the earliest, as reported by Defense One and other news organizations.
They told them approximately when the attack would begin, the composition of the coalition’s attack force, what we’re doing to train the forces.
Unless you’re fooling – unless this is an elaborate feint – it’s not normal practice to warn somebody that you’re coming,” Gordon Adams, a military historian and analyst at American University, said. “This is a little bizarre, it seems to me.”
Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said she was mind-boggled at what the Pentagon has done. One of the officers speaking to the media revealed that one of the Pentagon’s training camps was located in Jordan, and Jordan had made it clear it wanted that information kept private. Jordan is furious. Gabbard has served in the Iraq war in a medical unit where she saw the cost of war.

When  you realize that you don’t know very much about a current threat. the response should be to study up. Put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter, and read and investigate. I don’t have any indication that anybody in the White House is actually doing that. They do have a narrative, and they are sticking to it.

Investors Business Daily offers “Know Thy Enemy: A Crash Course in Radical Islam” by Paul Sperry, in five short parts. It seems useful.



Pretend, for a Moment, That It Is 1939, Once Again by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson imagines “President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism”

Imagining Obama as the American president in 1939 makes what’s wrong with the Obama approach to national security clear in a way that a straightforward discussion will not.

“The United States has made significant gains in our struggle against violent extremism in Europe. We are watching carefully aggressions in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and in Eastern Europe. My diplomatic team has made it very clear that aggression against neighbors is inappropriate and unacceptable. We live in the 20th century, where the 19th century practice of changing borders by the use of force has no place in the present era.

“Let me be perfectly clear: Mr. Hitler is playing to a domestic audience. He adopts a sort of macho shtick, as a cut-up in the back of the class who appeals to disaffected countrymen. Our task is to demonstrate to Mr. Hitler that his current behavior is not really in his own interest, and brings neither security nor profit to Germany.

“As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted some folks in a store. My job is sort of like a big-city mayor, to monitor these terrorist acts that are said to be done in the name of the German people. Let us not overreact and begin to listen to radio commentators who whip us up into a frenzy as if we were on the verge of war. We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization that remains a manageable problem.

Do read the whole thing. One of the greatest attributes of ordinary Americans is their sense of humor. If we lose that, we’re in real trouble.




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