American Elephants


Once You’ve Reduced it to Rubble, You Can’t Put It Back Together Again by The Elephant's Child
May 17, 2015, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Iran, Iraq | Tags: , , ,

051615KhorsabadThe Assyrians rose around 2,500 B.C. and at one time their realm stretched from the Mediterranean coast to present day Iran. They left behind palaces and temples decorated with huge reliefs depicting their king’s military campaigns and conquests and his great hunting prowess, killing lions and other dangerous animals. The city of Nimrud was founded in the 13th century B.C.during the reign of King Ashurnasirpal II, and served as the second capital of the Assyrian empire. Another capital was Ninevah. These colossal winged man-headed lions or bulls were protective deities put at the entrances of palaces and temples weighing about 10–30 tons each.

ISIS is raging throughout Iraq and Syria, attempting to obliterate history..The ancient city of Nimrud is across the Euphrates from Mosul —or was. After looting anything movable for sale, they attacked the city with sledgehammers, drills, saws, barrel bombs and bulldozers to destroy the 4,000 year-old treasures. Now it is just rubble.2778684F00000578-3035534-image-a-8_1428835740011K.T. MacFarland, national security adviser for Fox said “it’s like brainwashing. They want to eliminate the past, remove all signs of idolatry and spread monotheism.” “There is no past, there is only us.” “God has honored us in the Islamic State to remove all of these idols and statutes worshiped instead of Allah in the past days.”

They destroy museums, and break up priceless artifacts. They destroyed the Mosul Library and burned thousands of its rare books and manuscripts. UNESCO called the burning of books and manuscripts “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.”

the Washington Examiner lists the destruction, with an ISIS video bragging of their destruction and listing the other historical sites lost to the world because of ISIS wanton destruction, which seems remarkably pointless. The Crac des Chevaliers, an 11th Century Crusader castle, the Saint Simeon Church in Aleppo and the Aleppo Citadel. Jonah’s tomb, 173 priceless artifacts with statues from Hasra in the Mosul Museum. The Mosul Library, The ancient city of Nimrud, the Khorsabad Palace built between 717 and 706 B.C. and Hasra, a circular fortified city with double walls that became the capital of an early Arab kingdom.

palmyra-syria-263524-sw

It was reported that ISIS had taken Palmyra, in Syria (above) but a later post says they have been forced out and Palmyra is safe.

Some of the finest artifacts reside in Western museums. Everybody has criticized the British archeologists who snapped up so many treasures for depriving other nations of their heritage. Nobody really expected barbarians.

NINEVEH 8D



Beyond Incompetence to A Different Worldview: The Obama Doctrine by The Elephant's Child
May 8, 2015, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Iran, Iraq | Tags: , , ,

Over at the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes has a go at “Decoding the Obama Doctrine” —  or, as we all are wondering — Why is Obama doing that? Mr. Pipes begins with Barack Obama’s former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq, who had this to say about the administration’s current record in the Middle East.

………………………………..“We’re in goddamn free fall.”

Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington’s most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as “junior varsity” just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.

And, most of all: Making dangerously flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.

But there also is a grand idea and it calls for explanation. As a man of the left, Obama sees the United States historically having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly-powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.

The Obama Doctrine is simple and universal: Warm relations with adversaries and cool them with friends.

Several assumptions underlie this approach: The U.S. government morally must compensate for its prior errors. Smiling at hostile states will inspire them to reciprocate. Using force creates more problems than it solves. Historic U.S. allies, partners, and helpers are morally inferior accessories. In the Middle East, this means reaching out to revisionists (Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Republic of Iran) and pushing away cooperative governments (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia).

There’s more.  Do read the whole thing. Hard to understand how anyone could think this way, but there you are.



Iran: It’s What We’re All Worried About, Isn’t it? by The Elephant's Child
April 20, 2015, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Iran | Tags: , , ,

From Obama’s ‘Weekly Address’ at the White House, April 4, 2015

This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran,  Ayatollah Khameneni which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.

This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal — a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.

As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.

Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option. For the United States. For our allies. And for the world.

Our work — this deal — is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.

From Tehran, April 19, 2015, the Ayatollah Ali Khameni:

Iran’s supreme leader said it is a myth that his country is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and he accused the U.S. and Israel of posing the real threat to security in the Middle East.

In remarks Sunday to mark Iran’s annual Army Day, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei exhorted troops to increase their defensive preparedness and said his country was constantly under threat of military action and wasn’t even given ample scope to defend itself.

“They fabricated the nuclear weapon myth to say that the Islamic Republic is a threat,” Mr. Khamenei said, according to his official website. “No! The threat is the U.S.,” he said, accusing Washington of interfering and fomenting insecurity. The U.S. and Israel both act without any checks and “meddle in any place they find necessary,” he said….

The other side rudely threatens us with military action constantly,” Mr. Khamenei said. “And it goes further, saying the Islamic Republic shouldn’t have defensive capability.”

After the framework agreement, Russia lifted a self-imposed ban on the delivery of the S-300 missile-defense system to Iran. If installed, its presence would complicate any effort to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.

From the Washington Post, April 19, 2015, Jennifer Rubin

But wait. It gets worse. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the administration.

And from the Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2015. the same paragraph linked above.

If this is the current state of “the deal,” we have a lot to worry about. President Obama’s understanding of the “framework agreement” and Iran’s understanding are a few miles apart. I don’t believe either party, and I don’t believe in the deal, and I think the president is selling the country down the river, because he’s way in over his head, I just don’t see any favorable end to this effort.

As Jeff Jacoby wrote today in the Boston Globe:

Tehran’s rulers may have lied for years about their nuclear activities; their negotiated commitments to suspend enrichment and submit to inspections may not be worth the ink they sign them with.

But the mullahs don’t lie about what matters to them most: death to America, the extermination of Israel, unrelenting global jihad. They say they are deadly serious.

Believe them.



Obama’s Sales Push for His Nonexistent Deal With Iran Reveals His Own Failings by The Elephant's Child
April 7, 2015, 7:44 pm
Filed under: Iran, Islam, Middle East, Politics | Tags: , ,

Continuing his tour of friendly sources to boost the alleged “deal” with Iran, in the face of a very skeptical public, President Obama granted an interview to National Public Radio.  In doing so, he managed to provide some major reasons why Congress should reject the Iran deal out of hand. Steve Inskeep said asked “Do you believe that Iran’s government is capable of changing its ways?”

Obama responded:

My goal, when I came into office, was to make sure that Iran did not get a nuclear weapon and thereby trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile part of the world. And prior to me coming into office, we had seen Iran’s program go very quickly and have a whole bunch of centrifuges reduce the timeline in which they could break out and obtain a nuclear weapon if they so chose.

And because of the hard diplomatic work that we did internationally, as well as help from Congress, we were able to impose some really significant sanctions, brought them to the table.

What we are worried about is not a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but Iran’s religious commitment to the destruction of America and Israel. The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad regularly lied to his enemies. Taqiyya has become second nature to the Shia—the sect that rules Iran.

Obama says Iran could have a nuclear weapon after 12 years. He volunteered that in years 13, 14 and 15, Iran could have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that time the breakout times would have shrunk down almost down to zero. He argues that would be better than the current breakout time of 2-3 months, and the world would know more about the program. I have read 45 days in several places, but our intelligence has been wrong about breakout times in the case of India, Pakistan and North Korea, We are always “surprised.” American Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, one of the Iran negotiators, presided over the deal with North Korea that was to prevent them from becoming a nuclear state. Beside John Kerry, we are represented by Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, who is a physicist, presumably because he may understand nuclear energy.

Obama admitted that Iran is not going to change, they will not recognize Israel’s right to exist. They will not stop supporting terrorism. There is no way to resolve the differences over sanctions. He believes that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of the more moderate forces in Iran. Yet Iran has no intention or desire to join the community of nations. They do want to reestablish the Persian empire, and are working on it.

Obama assumes that inspections will be effective and that the threat of slapping the sanctions back on will make sure they are effective, The UN inspectors currently admit that they really don’t know much about what Iran has. They aren’t allowed to really inspect. Sanctions, once removed, will not be slapped back on. That would require a highly unlikely vote from China and Russia.

The Persian people are already banking on economic growth from the lifting of sanctions. France’s Total Oil Company is counting on increased amounts of oil from Iran. German industry sells them all sorts of equipment, as does Moscow. Their economy has been severely weakened, but in the midst of sanctions they have been financing their war operations, and there has been no lessening of their support for Hezbollah or Assad over the last four or five years. Obama has already relaxed the sanctions and returned most of their money.

What it seems to amount to, is that Obama will do anything to avoid military action. He wants the legacy of preventing Iran from immediate acquisition of a bomb, and he’s only in office for another 20 months so he’s willing to kick the problem down the road for the next president.

In his previous interview with Thomas Friedman, Obama said that his “absolute commitment” that if Israel were “attacked by any state, that we would stand by them” and that “should be sufficient” for Israel to take advantage of this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and accept his Iran nuclear deal as a good step forward. Again, Obama seems to assume that after a nuclear attack there would be something left of Israel for him to “stand by,” or something of America to do the standing. There is a disconnect here that Obama simply doesn’t seem to understand. His casual assumptions do not acknowledge the Shiia view of Armageddon bringing the return of the Mahdi and the eternal bliss that follows. He does not acknowledge Iran’s determination that their efforts to get a nuclear weapon trump any efforts of UN inspectors to attempt to inspect. He assumes that Iranian promises mean something.

This is not a matter of nuclear deterrence, or “mutually assured destruction” or a “nuclear arms race.” It’s a different time, different goals, and deeply different religions, one of which wants an end to America and an end to Israel.



Saturday Afternoon Tales From the Oval Office. by The Elephant's Child

president_clueless

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
…………………………………………………………………….Abraham Lincoln

President Obama invited New  York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman to the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon to lay out how he was trying to balance the risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran  last week in Switzerland. The “Obama Doctrine” that emerged when he asked Obama if there was a common denominator in recent decisions regarding Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities. Permitting Iran to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.

“I do worry that some traditional boundaries in how we think about foreign policy have been crossed,” the president said. “I felt the letter that was sent to the supreme leader was inappropriate. I think that you will recall there were some deep disagreements with President Bush about the Iraq war, but the notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats sending letters to leaders in the region or to European leaders … trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling.

“The notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats …trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling.”
Yep. He actually said that.



There Is No Deal. There Is No “Framework” Deal. There Is No Truth! by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times headline claimed “Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline. The Washington Post followed up with: “Iran agrees to nuclear restrictions in framework deal with world powers.” All hogwash. The “historic agreement” that President Obama is trying desperately to sell is pure fantasy. There has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that have led to international concern about Iran’s highly secret nuclear activities and have led to 13 years of diplomatic thrusts and talks and six mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.

What we have is a bunch of contradictory statements by the assorted  participants in the latest round of talks in Switzerland and an ignored deadline. Everybody is trying to make positive statements that spin things in a desirable manner without exceeding the boundaries of reality. So there was a 291 word joint statement in English by Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and the EU foreign policy leader Federica Mogherini who led the so-called P5+1 group of nations including the US in the negotiations.

Then there was the official Iranian text in 512 Persian words, and the text from US Secretary of State John Kerry who has put out a 1,318 word document which acts as if all is a done deal. The three different documents not only do not agree, they are frankly contradictory. The Mogherini and French texts are vague and not even good spin.

The Persian text carefully avoids any words that might in any way give the impression that anything has been agreed by the Iranian side or that the Islamic republic has offered any concessions whatsoever. The Iranian text is labelled as a press statement only. It opens insisting that it has no “legal aspect” and in intended only as a “guideline for drafting future accords.” Last April they were caught cheating on the amount of oil they were allowed to export under the relaxed sanctions.

The American text pretends to spell out “parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” and claims that key points have been “decided” — and what remains to be done is  to work out the “implementation details.” The U.S.version claims that Iran has agreed to certain restraints for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to …” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished. Sometimes the two texts are diametrically opposed.

The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue on the basis of a 10-year plan.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

The American text talks of “sanctions relief” while Iran claims that the sanctions would be  “immediately terminated.” Which is it? This is not a small matter. Remember that Obama is a fierce competitor and determined to build a legacy, and get his way.

In his Rose Garden statement, Obama said:

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations. It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased. And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

According to the Persians, they have agreed to no such thing. Iran has said clearly that Obama is lying. Iran has cheated on every single restriction ever placed on them. There have been 20 years of nuclear deal-breaking. In 2003, after Iran came clean, inspectors kept finding new and undeclared sites within Iran. In December they were caught shopping for components for its heavy-water reactor which can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Iran says plainly that they will not shut down a single facility, will not dismantle a single centrifuge, and will not ship it’s stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country. The UN inspections people say they really don’t know just what the Iranians have, and won’t know without being able to do surprise inspections.

But Obama wants you to know that the deal he has not made is a good one. He claimed that the only alternative to his deal was another ground war in the Middle East. Yet anyone who has been paying the slightest attention could come up with several alternatives. Obama is regarded as completely weak. The Arab nations have joined together with Israel to protest the deal he seems so determined on. He says “this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But he also says that ” Iran wants to join the community of nations” just at the moment that they are sponsoring genocide in Syria. He seems to think the Iranian people want to be part of that community, without any understanding that Iran is a dictatorial theocracy, and if the people dared to speak out, which they don’t, they would swiftly be executed.

Willful ignorance, and a frightening fantasy. When they shriek “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” — they actually mean it.



A Curious And Appalling Agreement to Keep Talking by The Elephant's Child

Talks273

With many of the policies our president announces, you know it’s not going to work and I know it’s not going to work, so why is he doing it? I’m certainly not a psychoanalyst, and you probably aren’t either. Congressmen are quick to oppose something and say why, but the White House itself is very close-mouthed. I pay a lot of attention to Richard Epstein’s comments, because I’m a great admirer of Mr. Epstein, and I think he’s an unusually careful observer. (If you haven’t watched the video, it’s helpful if you are curious. Short segment at 20:36).

With all the news about the Iraq nuclear talks, it’s pretty clear that Sec. Kerry and Sec. Moniz have their marching orders. Obama wants a deal. So far the tentative agreement seems to be just what we laughed at for its absurdity. It’s an agreement to keep talking for a few more months, with some very disturbing guidelines. Neither side agrees to what the other said they agreed to.

“Negotiators have a tentative agreement on the rough outline of a possible public statement on the progress they have made so far that would also highlight areas of disagreement, diplomats close to the talks said.”

What I believe would be an acceptable deal bears no relationship to what Obama has in mind, and what he has in mind is frightening in its possible outcome. The questions multiply. (Epstein: He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind.) But Obama said the Iranians want to be part of the community of nations, or something like that. Well, no, the mullahs have no interest in a community of nations, unless it is a restored Persian empire, and whatever the Iranian people want is of no concern. This is a theocracy, not a democracy. Obama has said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. (No one anywhere can find any evidence of such a fatwa) From Raymond Ibrahim:

First, the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka‘b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances (discussed here), taqiyya became second nature to the Shia — the sect currently ruling Iran. …

Indeed, during a recent speech, supreme leader Khamenei — whose fatwa Obama is now citing — boasted about Iran’s uranium enrichment, even as his military commanders shouted, “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Back in October of 2008, Martin Kramer, President of Shalem College in Jerusalem wrote a primer on the Middle East for the new president. It’s long, but worth your while for understanding where Obama’s ideas about the Middle East came from, and why they are fixed and unassailable — and mistaken.

Here are a couple more excellent short pieces explaining the present situation. “This Is Not a Deal” by Abe Greenwald. And “The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement” by John Podhoretz, both from Commentary. And here’s “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw” by Charles Duelfer from Politico.

People react differently to great policy changes or errors — some just don’t want to think about it, and others want to learn everything they can. Painful either way.




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