American Elephants

Obama Remains Committed to a Failed Strategy In A War He Has No Plans to Win. by The Elephant's Child

obamacareThere has been a notable kerfuffle in the media after the ISIS attack in Paris. Why are we getting nowhere in our response to ISIS? Why is Obama claiming that ISIS is contained, when it is so obviously clear that they are expanding into other countries? Why when France asked for our help in striking back at ISIS, did he just brush them off? Why did John Kerry make perhaps the worst flub ever committed by a Secretary of State after the Paris attack when he spoke  to families and staff at the embassy in Paris, effectively saying that Charlie Hebdo kind of asked for it you know. We have supposedly been “containing” ISIS for months yet accomplishing nothing.

Last week, Byron York reported that a military strike near Abu Kamal, in Syria, destroyed 116 fuel trucks out of nearly 300 massed on the ground. Not the first time we have hit the Islamic State oil trucks, but the first time we have hit so many, according to a coalition spokesman.  So there are 300 sitting there, and we could only destroy 116? Apparently the answer is that Obama has been worried about civilian casualties. What if a civilian was driving one of those trucks or standing nearby? General Jack Keane, a retired army four star general, said that Obama’s rules of engagement have hobbled our military to an unprecedented extent.

Such worries are entirely consistent with the entire U.S. war against the Islamic State. “Our air campaign, since it began, has been the most restrictive in terms of rules of engagement that we have ever entered into in the last 25 years,” said Jack Keane, a retired Army four-star general who now chairs the Institute for the Study of War. “This has been largely due to the White House’s insistence that there be zero civilian casualties, at the behest of the president of the United States.”

In Abu Kamal, U.S. planes dropped leaflets before the attack, warning people — Islamic State, non-Islamic State, whoever — to leave before the assault began. After waiting for an hour, the U.S. planes struck.

U.S pilots confirm that the Obama administration blocks 75 percent of Islamic State strikes. “We can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target on front of us.” Pentagon officials said the military is furiously working to prevent civilian casualties.

The New York Post pointed out that ‘the Obama administration just realized days ago that ISIS is one of the richest organizations in the world — with assets totaling billions.’ Its assets include 1) up to $1 billion seized from Iraqi banks. 2) Some $200 million a year from stolen Iraqi wheat.3) Hundreds of millions extorted from captive populations. 4) tens of millions from selling sex slaves and looted antiquities as well as ransoming foreign hostages. They cover the payroll with just half their oil revenue, so even if their oil business is decimated, they can keep going for years.

Speaking from the White House today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to reassure reporters that President Obama is taking the threat from ISIS seriously and is gathering as much intelligence on the terrorist army as he can. This comes in the wake of veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s report that her sources tell her that President Obama does not want and will not read intelligence reports on Islamic groups he does not consider to be terrorists, despite their being on a U.S. list of designated terrorists. That’s probably anyone connected with his Iran Deal. From The Weekly Standard

Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Obama said that, while the Paris attacks might have been a “setback” for his ISIS strategy, they would not change it. When reporters expressed surprise at his continued embrace of an approach that was failing, he lashed out at them for daring to question him. At a time when an American president might have been expected to show some righteous anger at the attackers and those who enabled them, Obama instead directed his fury towards critics at home who worry about jihadist violence against the homeland. It was a shameful spectacle, and a revealing one.

Barack Obama remains committed to a failed strategy against an enemy he has long underestimated in a war he has no plans to win. Nothing has changed. And this time, what’s past truly is prologue.

For Further Reading:

“The Long War Continues:” Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, The Weekly Standard.

“The Islamic War:” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review.

“The Poverty of American Strategy:” Kenneth Allard, Real Clear Defense.

“Obama and the ‘ISIS Recruitment Tool’ Canard:” Andrew McCarthy, PJ Media.

“Obama’s ISIS Paralysis:” Richard A. Epstein, The Hoover Institution.


Obama Kills the Keystone Pipeline Again, to Preserve America’s “Global Leadership” on Climate Change. by The Elephant's Child

Obama announced on Friday that “the State Department would not permit the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that the project’s completion would rob  the U.S . of the moral authority to pressure other countries toward action on climate change.”

“If we’re going to prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky,”

Oh please! What a load of what we used to call, politely, road apples. Of course Obama would blame it on the State Department, which had previously approved the Keystone twice, once under Hillary and once under Kerry. Even the State of Nebraska has approved it.

Imagine, we have denied oil market access to our ally Canada, along with access to our refineries, but granted it to Iran.

The Canadian oil will go to market. It is going to market now, by rail. I heard there was a derailment today, but no spill this time. It is safer, considerably safer, by pipeline. It’s not as if we didn’t have all sorts of pipelines already, quite safely. Moving oil through a pipeline does not release CO2 to the atmosphere, and if it did, it would be a good thing. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is plant food, and makes plants grow. More food to feed a hungry world.

The oil refineries in the Gulf have tripled their processing supplies of Canadian crude since 2010 to more than 300,000 barrels a day. The urgent need for the pipeline is down because of the decline in oil prices from $100 a barrel to $45, which puts a damper on future growth.

Canadian and US Crude Oil Pipeline Proposals(click to enlarge)

The Seaway Crude Pipeline System (SCPS), commonly called the Seaway Pipeline transports crude oil between Cushing, Oklahoma and Freeport, Texas  to the Texas City, Texas Terminal and Distribution System on the Gulf Coast.

For many years the Seaway shipped oil north to Cushing, but in June 2012, the flow was reversed to ship oil south out of Cushing instead. President Obama flew to Cushing a while back, for a photo-op in front of a bunch of big oil pipes.

And America’s ‘Global Leadership’ is becoming more and more of a joke. ” And frankly,” Obama said, “approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.” More likely Tom Steyer’s money.

House speaker Paul Ryan described Obama’s decision as “sickening” in a brief statement. “By rejecting this pipeline, the president is rejecting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. He is rejecting our largest trading partner and energy supplier,” Ryan said. “He is rejecting the will of the American people and a bipartisan majority of the Congress. If the president wants to spend the rest of his time in office catering to special interests, that’s his choice to make. But it’s just wrong.”

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said “The president nay be celebrated by environmental extremists, but with this act, President Obama has also solidified a legacy as a pompous, pandering job killer.” Ouch!

Deeply Misunderstanding the Nature of the Enemy by The Elephant's Child

In his speech to the State Department’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry not only exposed the administration’s disastrous misconceptions about the climate — there has been no warming for 18 years and 9 months — but the “extremism,” as the administration insists on calling it, of ISIS and al-Qaeda. President Obama said once something about the Iranian rulers being people just like us, who care about our families and our people. They are not. Kerry said:

The other being the rise of radical extremism, sectarianism, and the failure of states simultaneously surrounding it, and vast populations of young people needing jobs instead of mind-bending theories of false assumptions about Islam and other things. Both are gigantic challenges.

Secretary Kerry is also wrong about the rise of “radical extremism.” It is very clearly Islamic radical fanaticism. Its proponents are not poor young men needing jobs, but for the most part middle class, educated, and their “extremism” is religious in nature. They believe that the current state of the Middle East is a result of Allah turning away from his people because they have not adhered closely enough to his rules. The Sunnis long for a return to the seventh century and the era of the prophet, and they believe they must purify Islamic lands by removing those who do not submit. The Shias long for the return of the Mahdi.

In the days following the death of the Prophet, the Armies of Islam swept across the lands surrounding the Mediterranean conquering everything in their path. Islamic scholars knew mathematics and astronomy, and the people of the West were barbarians. Islam never had a Reformation nor an Enlightenment.

We’re not going to get very far if we insist on believing that they just need jobs and opportunity. Their calls for Death to America and Death to Israel are quite serious. ISIS televised executions of Christians and others who do not submit and adopt Islam are meant to show the world just how serious they are. Obama has said that he believes that the Iranians would never actually use a nuclear weapon — a statement that demonstrates all too clearly the depth of his misunderstandings.

Looking back at the history of crisis and wars, misunderstanding the nature of the enemy has always been a forerunner of disaster.

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.

Suppressing U.S. Intelligence For Political Reasons? by The Elephant's Child

Some of the U.S. intelligence community’s top analysts reportedly have informed the Pentagon’s Inspector General that their reports have been systematically edited to back up President Obama’s assertions and his national security team’s assertions that the war on ISIS is more successful than it actually is, according to news reports from The Hill and other news sources.

This is the first time that so many intelligence analysts have complained to the Pentagon’s top Inspector General Jon Rymer about the politicizing of the intelligence gathering and analysis function.  In July, two analysts filed a complaint after months of internal complaints were allegedly ignored. Some career intelligence officers who complained were bullied and forced to take early retirement.  Other analysts backed up their colleagues complaints and said they can back up their claims of political shenanigans to make Obama, Kerry and others look good.

The most damaging complaint is that “senior officials are editing the analysts’ reports to bring them into line with administration claims. The goal was apparently to make Iran appear less dangerous to Americans while the administration was pursuing its Iran Deal. The House Armed Services Committee is investigating.

Obama’s Iran Deal Is Vanishing In A Puff of Disbelief by The Elephant's Child

20131007_obama_iranflag_LARGE“Sometime this week, President Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order to meet the October 15 “adoption day” he has set for the nuclear deal he has made with Iran. According to the president’s timetable the next step would be “the start day of implementation,” fixed for December 25.” That’s Amir Taheri, writing in the New York Post. He added “But as things now stand, Obama may end up being the only person in the world to sign his much-wanted deal, in effect making a treaty with himself.”

Iran has not signed anything and has no plans for doing so. The JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) hasn’t been discussed at the Iranian Council of Ministers, nor has the government bothered to provide a Persian translation of the text (159 pages). The Ayatollah Khamenei said early on that they had no intention of signing a document with America.

Obama’s P5+1 group (Britain China, Germany, France and Russia) have apparently decided that Obama’s deal is really only about lifting sanctions and not enforcing anything. So that’s what they are doing. Putin is renewing his interest with Assad and propping up the Assad dictatorship in Syria, as well as starting delivery of S300 anti-aircraft missiles and is engaged in talks to sell Sukhoi planes to the Islamic Republic.

Britain has lifted the ban on 22 Iranian banks and companies that were reportedly involved with nuclear deals.  German trade with Iran has risen by 33 percent, and they are now Iran’s third-largest trading partner after China.

China has signed a preliminary accord to help Iran build five more nuclear reactors. France has sent its foreign minister and a 100-man delegation to negotiate projects to double Iran’s crude oil exports and negotiate other big business deals. Everybody regards the JCPOA as a green light for dropping sanctions. Indian trade us up 17%, and New Delhi is negotiating a massive investment in a rail-and-sea-hub on the Gulf of Oman.

Austrian, Turkish and UAE banks are lifting restrictions that were imposed on Iran because of their nuclear program. President Hassan Rouhani boasted that “the structures of sanctions built over decades is crumbling.”

They have no intention of shutting down their nuclear project.

The Iranian crowds are not shouting “Death to Britain, France and Germany. Death to India, Russia and China.” They are quite specific. It’s America and Israel. We do need to keep that in mind.

The Mullahs are certain that Obama is paralyzed by his fear of undermining the non-existent “deal.” They are encouraging Palestine in a new Intifada, working to choose the next president in Lebanon, and are calling openly for overthrow of the monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

Obama has hoped to engage Iran on other issues, and reportedly hoped to meet with the Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran to shake his hand and, I guess, formally turn the Middle East over to Iran. Khamenei declared last week “any dialogue with the American Great Satan to be forbidden.”

There has been a ballistic missile test in Iran that apparently violates the Iran Deal.  Nevermind.

Obama has apparently moved into a fantasy world in which Putin is exhibiting his weakness, while Obama shows what real leadership is with his Climate Change initiatives.  Inside Iran, Obama’s moderate partners who would never actually use a nuclear weapon have doubled the number of executions and political prisoners. They crushed marches by teachers last week. Hundreds of trade unionists have been arrested and potential protesters are terrorized by a new “anti-insurrection” brigade.

President Obama appeared with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes yesterday. It was an amazing interview. If you didn’t see it, a video and transcript are available here. It is very interesting.


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