American Elephants


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.



The Propaganda Wars: Unfamiliar Strategy by The Elephant's Child

ISIS is depending on their videos to appeal to young Muslims who may be convinced to join the fight. The violence portrayed in many of them has encouraged hundreds to make their way to Syria to join ISIS. The Islamic State’s best recruiting tool is youth boredom. ISIS is offering excitement, a chance for young Muslims in the West to get back at the prejudice against Muslims that they may feel, and they find the extreme violence portrayed on the video thrilling and exciting. Just as we find movie portrayals of special effects exciting. But the reality is something else.

There are currently 3 young women, teenagers, from Britain currently making their way to Turkey and Syria to become brides of ISIS. There are at lest 8 impressionable schoolgirls that were attracted by websites recruiting brides, who have disappeared. A couple of them are already widows. Hundreds are proposing to ISIS fighters.

Have you ever been a member of the military, and gone through basic training? If so you will enjoy this newest ISIS recruiting video meant to strike fear into the hearts of the West. I can’t embed the video, so you will have to follow the link. The music is annoying, but the camouflage is priceless.

We need some evidence and videos of the setbacks being inflicted on ISIS and al Qaeda to counter their propaganda. But that may be another part of the Obama strategy that isn’t understood.



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.



What Did Obama Mean By “Fundamentally Transform”? by The Elephant's Child

Obama lecturing

Most of us are apt to divide the world up into the good guys and the bad guys. Opposites.  Simplistic thinking, of course. No nuance. (when did that word slip into the daily vocabulary?) Winners and losers. Short and tall, rich and poor, hard-working and lazy, handsome and ugly, cruel and kind, smart and stupid. It helps us to understand those things we encounter in the world, we can modify our judgment later.

World War II was clear — Allies and Axis, and the Cold War — Communists and the Free World. Things began to get confused with the War in Vietnam. Protesters couldn’t decide who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Jane Fonda has never been forgiven for her stupidity, but she was not alone among the far left. It was a confusing time, and when the Draft was ended, surprisingly so were the protests.

Questions today on the internet ask “Is Obama a Christian?” and “Is Obama a Muslim?” But those are the wrong questions. Obama has given every indication of signing up with the bad guys, the Axis, the Communists, and those who oppose our country. His dislike for the Israeli prime minister is obvious; his distaste for the United Kingdom is clear; his support for a deal with Iran; his support for the Muslim Brotherhood; for the deposed president of Egypt; inability to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq; Benghazi; refusal to help the dissidents in Iran, and in Syria; and the silly outreach to Cuba; and the support for most anti-American governments in South America.

There is a pattern.  A pattern which is behind Rudy Giuliani’s asking if the president loves America. One would think that the media would be somewhat aware of the direction of the entire Obama administration, instead of dissolving in wrath when someone actually notices. (Or is that why the media boiled over —they’re beginning to notice?)

I think he is just doing exactly what he said he would do: attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Everybody was so excited with the idea of the first black president, the mellow baritone voice, the moving phraseology “Yes We Can!,” “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!,” that they didn’t really pay any attention to what he actually said that he wanted to do. I don’t think he is trying to destroy the country, he just wants to “fix” it.

We are paying the price for our inattention. And it’s up to us to find out exactly what he meant by “fundamentally transform.” It matters. It matters a lot.



“Once You see what he is trying to accomplish, it all makes sense.” by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online:

“The Wise People of American foreign policy — Madeleine Albright, General Jack Keane, Henry Kissinger, General James Mattis, George Shultz, and others — recently testified before Congress. Their candid and insightful collective message dovetailed with the worries of many former Obama-administration officials, such as one-time defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as well as a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Their consensus is that the U.S. is drifting, and with it the world at large: The Obama administration has not formulated a consistent strategy to cope with the advance of second-generation Islamic terrorism. It is confused by the state upheavals in the Middle East. It is surprised by the aggression of Putin’s Russia and the ascendance of an autocratic China. Our allies in Europe, much of democratic Asia, and Israel all worry that the U.S. is rudderless, as it slashes its military budget and withdraws from prior commitments.

While I think the symptomology of an ailing, herky-jerky United States is correct, the cause of such malaise is left unspoken. The Obama team — with its foreign policy formulated by President Obama himself, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry — is not in fact befuddled by the existing world. Instead, it is intent on changing it into something quite different from what it is.”

“So far,” Hanson says,” from being chaotic, current U.S. foreign policy is consistent, logical, and based on four pillars of belief.”

Do read the whole thing, Victor Hanson spells out why, in Obama’s mind, we are doing what we are doing. Obama does have a strategy. It’s just mistaken.



Saving the Republic With Empty Words And Empty Minds by The Elephant's Child

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I couldn’t resist posting about Chris Matthews interview with State Department spokesgirl Marie Harf, partly because even ultra-liberal Matthews found her bland and unbelievable responses too much to take.

As I subsequently checked in with all the many websites I usually read, I wasn’t really surprised to find everybody going on about Miss Harf, and the comments were extensive and impolite. People seem to be really fed up with the delusional nonsense.

Further, it’s clear that they expect the public voice of the United States of America to be an experienced diplomat, and the two young women holding the job were considered — embarrassing, not serious, shameful.

Well, Jen Psaki, the senior one, is moving up.” She is leaving her post as spokesperson for Secretary of State John Kerry to become the new White House Communications Director, President Obama said today.”

Jen worked on both my campaigns, she’s served in the White House, and she’s traveled the world as an adviser to Secretary Kerry,” Obama said in a statement. “I fully trust Jen — and I am thrilled she’s agreed to come back to the White House as Communications Director.”

Psaki will replace Jennifer Palmieri, who is expected to join Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign after leaving the White House. …

Psaki began working for Obama’s political operation in 2007, and the president has been a frequent booster of her work. The president had Psaki on his short list for the White House press secretary’s job last year before selecting Josh Earnest.

In a post at PJ Media, Ed Driscoll captured not only the problem of administration thought, but the place of Obama’s radical-chic roots and his training in Community Organizing in dealing with ISIS (ISIL?), but summed up the spokesman problem by labeling the two women as — “spokesbarbies.” Perfect.

Obama’s  appointments have been a remarkably unimpressive bunch. But he goes for those who willingly share his ideology. And that is a BIG part of the problem. He needs to be surrounded with people unafraid to disagree with him, who will challenge his ideas, tell him when he’s off on the wrong track.

But the new breed of leftist does not want to be disagreed with. Climate skeptics are called “deniers” and some demand that they be put in jail. The two identifiers “Islamic”  and “terrorism” are not to be used together in any context. It’s fine to have a Secretary of State who in four years accomplishes only a miss-translated  reset button, and a vast number of air travel miles. John Kerry has demonstrated once again, that being in the Senate, making speeches and voting, does not qualify one for higher office.

The hard-nosed advisers, the Generals and Admirals, the intelligence experts who dared to speak out are all gone. On top of that, it is frequently reported that Obama seldom speaks to anyone outside his closest advisers, especially Valerie Jarrett. And just in case, Obama drafted, early on, an exception to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that more or less allows anyone in the administration to fail to produce information, and it frequently takes a court order to get it. This was going to be the most transparent administration in history, remember? Here’s a video from 2009 that explains why the president does not use the term ‘terror, terrorist or terrorism,’ with all sorts of excuses for sloppy thinking. “Terror is a tactic,”etc. etc. This president does not change his mind, his ideas are set in concrete and not subject to revision.



Please, Just Tell Us The Truth. by The Elephant's Child

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ISIS just posted a video of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. We saw only pictures of the prisoners lined up on the shore, kneeling, wearing orange jumpsuits with a black-clad jihadist standing behind each one with a knife. Our media protected our delicate sensibilities by refraining from showing the executions. None of us want to see, but by sparing us, the media is lying about what happened. Does that matter?

President Sisi of Egypt promised revenge and attacked ISIS positions in Derna with at least two waves of air strikes.

In Iraq, ISIS jihadists have burned 45 people to death in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, according to the local police chief. Al-Baghdadi has been besieged for months by ISIS fighters until the town fell on Thursday. It was one of the few towns still controlled by the Iraqi government in Anbar province. It was the first time in the last few months that ISIS  had taken new ground according to the Defense Department.

ISIS has released another video of 17 caged Kurdish Peshmerga fighters dressed in orange jumpsuits and shackled in cages being paraded through the streets of Kirkuk, Iraq, the cages in the back of pickup trucks. Presumably they are to be burned alive as was the Jordanian pilot.

A while back there was a picture posted of an ISIS Fighter with his young son, maybe 9 or 10, proudly holding up a decapitated head by the hair. The website had blurred the head so we could see only a round shape and not any features. Many videos are presented with a warning that it might be disturbing to some. (And there is nothing, compared to what your imagination suggests).

I’m not suggesting any desire to see really ugly film, but wondering if its omission is a way of lying to us about what is really happening in the world. Do those of us who cannot bring ourselves to say the words “Islamic terrorism” or even just the simple “terrorism” fail to understand because they are sheltered by the news media, who will allow no distasteful images involving war or murder, but anything else distasteful is fine? Just wondering.

The White House is hosting its Summit on Countering Violent Extremism this week.”The event is supposed to showcase President Obama’s leadership against a threat he refuses to identify by name, gut the entire world has been watching Islamist jihadists advertise the specific threat across a brutal weekend,”said the Wall Street Journal.

A recent White House talking point has been that terrorism isn’t all that threatening and we shouldn’t overreact. If that’s going to be the message of this week’s summit, then call it off, Mr. President. The event will merely help Islamic State recruit more jihadists.




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