American Elephants


Just Hang On, It Gets Worse! by The Elephant's Child

The messages from the Iran nuclear negotiation are mixed. Some informants say we are giving up all inspections in order to get a deal, the White House insists that this is not the case, but nobody believes Obama any more.

We are opening a consulate in Cuba, though Congress has refused any financing. Iran will honor an agreement not to develop nuclear weapons. Obama will walk away from the negotiations. ISIS is a JV team, Rachel Dolezal is black, Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, ObamaCare is working and popular, the polar ice caps are disappearing, but the military has been sent to measure them to see how fast. We are more respected around the world than ever before. What is one to make of all this? Reality is fleeting.

The best explanation for Obama that I have found is from Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum, which I will include once again:

As a man of the Left, Obama sees the United States historically as 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.

This is important, and it was confirmed today in the video below, by “Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to President Obama. He was the chief U.S . negotiator in the secret normalization talks with Cuba and has been a central player in the making of American foreign policy since 2009, both as key adviser and as the president’s chief foreign policy speechwriter.”

In this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, they discuss the worldview of President Obama, focusing on Cuba, the Iran talks, and the continuing crisis across the broader Middle East.

Valerie Jarrett has said that President Obama has just been bored all his life, presumably not having been sufficiently challenged. He had an adjunct job teaching constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School, but his students indicated that he taught mostly Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which seems to be an advanced course in manipulating people to get them to do what you want them to do. That doesn’t indicate any particular deep study of the Constitution.

Obama appointed an extraordinary collection of Czars, and asks that his briefings come in the form of a short paragraph or two, with 3 choices of actions to take, and he’ll pick one. Other than that, he doesn’t want much contact with members of his administration and associates only with his small inner circle, when he’s not watching sports on TV or playing golf.

That kind of sums up what I have gleaned about what Obama does and why he does it. The mindset is so foreign to everything I know about Iran and Cuba that I find it almost impossible to absorb. I grasp his view of Iran, but I think he’s subjecting both America and Israel to  dangerous and immediate threat. Cuba, I just don’t get. We are offered nothing, and by encouraging tourism and trade, giving Cuba the freedom to resume their anti-American arms dealing and drug trade across Latin America. They have no intention of offering more freedom to the Cuban people. Raul Castro has said so.

Having lost control of Congress, Obama, never willing to engage with Republicans, has determined to just go ahead and do everything he wants to do. Kind of a nyaah–nyaah–just try to stop me! He will use executive orders, executive notes, just order things to be done. They always say that inside of every Liberal is a tyrant trying to get out. Or did I miss something when Senate Democrats are voting to repeal the First Amendment so they can suppress political criticism?



It Is Way Past Time to Call a Halt to this Pathetic Search for a Nuclear Deal. by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s Iran nuclear negotiations are coming down to the final days before a self-imposed deadline expires. The administration is desperately seeking support for its effort to make a deal at any price. Five of Obama’s closest advisers, members of his inner circle of advisers on Iran have signed a letter urging him to stand his ground for once. Iran’s parliament has voted that they will accept no inspections, none of their military sites will be open to inspectors at any time, and generally thumbed their noses at the U.S.

Obama came to office with an array of really big accomplishments he expected to make to place him in the list of the greatest presidents. Health Care was one. Ending the Iraq War, closing Gitmo, a Two-State Solution between Israel and Palestine, renewing relations with Cuba, and a nuclear deal with Iran. His list seems remarkably short on history and anything but the shallowest understanding of world affairs.

He badly wants a deal with Iran, and seems open to any concession that might enable him to get “a deal.” Sanctions have put Iran’s economy in a bind, exacerbated by the advent of “fracking” and America’s abundance of oil and natural gas — which, in turn, has significantly brought down the price of a barrel of oil, to less than the break-even cost for Iranian oil. It was the sanctions and pressure on Iran’s economy that brought them to the table in the first place.

The administration has long insisted that any nuclear deal will have no effect on American determination to stop Iran’s support for terrorism, their drive for nuclear weapons, and their regional ambitions. From Mr. Obama’s public statements, he apparently believes that the Iranians are just people like us, who essentially care about their families, and their claims of “Death to America” are just public relations ploys to keep the locals happy, or something like that. From Michael Ledeen:

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

Obama has already lifted most of the sanctions that brought Iran to the table. Now he is ending some funding that annoys Iran. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan businessman was cited by President GW Bush as the :”chief financial officer and money launderer” for the nuclear-proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan,  In 1994 or 1995, Mr. Khan asked Mr. Tahir to ship uranium centrifuges to Iran. The Bush Administration put Mr. Tahir on the U.S Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of sanctioned persons. The Treasury Department removed his name from that list on April 3, exactly one day after the framework agreement was announced.This delisting is intended to whitewash Iran’s illicit acquisition of centrifuges as having anything to do with a nuclear weapons program. Nothing to see here, just move on.

Iran’s ballistic missile program has long been considered as the most effective way to deliver a nuclear weapon, and the Administration pushed for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missiles in 2010. When it came time to negotiate, however, the Administration gave in, as they did to most everything else, to Iran’s insistence that it would accept no missile limitations, thus separating the missile program and the nuclear program.

As the shape of the nuclear deal becomes clearer, it looks like a betrayal of our friends and a gift to a repugnant dictatorship, not to mention a real threat to America.

The Obama administration is unlikely to return to the previous goals of requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure or cease, even temporarily, its uranium enrichment. Nor is it likely to insist that Tehran alter non-nuclear policies such as support for terrorism and destabilizing regional activities in connection with a nuclear accord or as a condition for sanctions relief. These facts alone ensure that any nuclear deal will fall well short of longstanding U.S. goals and face significant opposition in Washington and among allies in the Middle East.

Today Iran is insisting the United States and world powers deliver more concessions at the negotiating table, including consenting to demands that any final nuclear agreement last less than 10 years.

Iran’s bid to pressure Western powers came amid reports that the United States promised in secret documents to deliver to Tehran “high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment” that would modernize and improve its nuclear program. This portion of the agreement appears to reverse decades of U.S. policy towards Iran.



A Debate on Obama’s Potential Nuclear Deal With Iran by The Elephant's Child
May 31, 2015, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Iran | Tags: , ,

Last Tuesday evening, Lauri Regan attended a debate in New York City, sponsored by “Intelligence Squared U.S”.focused on whether or not Obama’s Iran deal is good for the country. For the pro-Obama’s Iran Deal is Good for America, Philip Gordon, a former White House Coordinator for the Middle East, N. Africa and Gulf Region. and Thomas Pickering, a former Under Secretary of State;

Arguing against the Nuclear Deal with Iran were Michael Doran, a Senior fellow with the Hudson Institute and Former Senior Director of the National Security Council and Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director if the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Director of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. The Debate was moderated by John Donvan.

A podcast is available here.Lauri Regan was surprised to find what a partisan issue this was. The pro side, she said, used lies, straw men, personal attacks and the usual tactics from the hard Left. If you are interested, read Regan’s article first, then listen to the podcast. She found the audience remarkably uninformed, considering the length of time the situation has been in the news. She said her view is that Americans are uninformed about the realities of the deal and what it means, but people were willing to come out and spend two hours listening and learning, but half of them didn’t understand what they heard.

How anyone could leave without understanding that Obama is “putting the whole world in mortal danger for the sake of an imaginary legacy” she did not understand, nor do I.

I heard on the radio a statement that most people now get their news from Facebook. I have no idea if it is true. The New York Times, I have also heard, plans to publish on Facebook. I’ve also heard that many get their news from the late night comedy shows. I think we need some major coursework in high school and colleges on how to find information and establish its reliability. Too many people know far too much that just isn’t so.



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.




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