American Elephants


Barack Obama’s Preposterous Foreign Policy Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

Americans are puzzled by President Obama’s refusal to put the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” even close to each other in a sentence. Violent extremism is as close as it gets, and it is clear that the entire administration has been instructed in language control. If you’re good at it (Jen Psaki) you get promoted, if not, not.

But we hear the news, we remember 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, attacks in Australia, Canada, London, Denmark, Fort Hood, the Boston Massacre, and daily reports of the “violent extremism” of ISIS, beheading, crucifying, burning alive. The inability to say ‘Islamic terrorism’ seems preposterous. It is no wonder that so many think that perhaps Obama is a Muslim, or has extreme Muslim sympathies.

I don’t think so, but he probably has, as he has said, pleasant memories of the Islamic call to prayer, and of his time in Indonesia, where he lived from 1967 to 1971. He was taught to admire his absent father, and his father’s history. After 1971, he grew up in Hawaii. What brought him to national attention was “the Speech,” the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. Chicago Magazine gives a long and admiring story of how it came about and what went into it.

When Barack Obama launched into his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was still an obscure state senator from Illinois. By the time he finished 17 minutes later, he had captured the nation’s attention and opened the way for a run at the presidency.

Barack Obama has always been fascinated by his own story. It sets him apart from other men as something truly special. It not only dominated his convention speech, but his autobiography Dreams From My Father, was published the following year, though it must have been already written. Who writes their autobiography at age 44?

Obama believed that he could bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He told us that was his ambition. It just needed his magic touch. He was good friends with Rashid Khalidi, the American-Palestinian firebrand, who is now Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. His views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are that everything is Israel’s fault, and Palestinians are the abused party. If you read Victor Davis Hanson’s  explanation of Obama’s strategy, it becomes clear:

Leaders caricatured and demonized as a Cuban Stalinist, an Iranian theocrat, a Russian former KGB agent, and a plutocratic Chinese apparatchik in fact think no differently from us. But they have too often not been accorded a voice because the U.S. sought to bully them rather than reason with them. Polarizing and out-of-date labeling such as calling ISIS or the Taliban “terrorists” or “Islamists,” or reducing Bowe Bergdahl to a “traitor,” serve no purpose other than to simplify complex issues in ways that caricature those with whom we differ.

Instead, if we reduce our military profile and show other nations that what we are really interested in is fundamentally transforming U.S. society into a more equitable and fair place, our erstwhile enemies will begin to appreciate that we too are human and thus share their common aspirations. Ideals, persuasion, feelings, and intent are now the stuff of foreign policy, not archaic and polarizing rules of deterrence, balance of power, military readiness, and alliances.

It all makes sense to Obama. I’m not sure how much of the Democratic Party has moved sharply left. Certainly their spokesmen have, and the administration, but would the rank and file Democrats all sign on to this idea of a strategy for America in today’s world?  For me, it’s an increasingly dangerous world out there, with an administration unfamiliar with history and no understanding of strategy, or national security—conducting foreign policy with lightweights.

The mullahs of Iran have long demonstrated that they are not to be trusted at any time, on any subject. Vladimir Putin seems determined to reconstitute the Soviet Empire, without Communism, just tyranny. ISIS is growing and growing more vicious. The Defense Department is intent on getting rid of the A-10 Warthog, because they have a hot new toy for future wars, if it actually works. China is expanding in the South China Sea, and flexing its muscles. Showing other nations that we too are human and share their common aspirations just doesn’t cut it.

We tried to show Cuba our humanity, and Raul thanked us for surrendering to them and demanded that we return Guantanamo. So of course Nancy Pelosi took a delegation of Democrats to Cuba this last week. The message from Cuba is that Raul Castro has no intention of doing anything differently. He expects Washington to lift the embargo, and end any amnesty for Cuban doctors seeking asylum. Their top demand is that they be taken off the U.S. list of state-sponsors of terrorism.



“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.



Daring to Disagree With The Approved Language by The Elephant's Child

“European Colonialism is the Only Thing That Modernized Islam” is the headline on Daniel Greenfield’s column today on his Sultan Knish blog.

Like math and the Midwest, ISIS confuses progressives. It’s not hard to confuse a group of people who never figured out that if you borrow 18 trillion dollars, you’re going to have to pay it back. But ISIS is especially confusing to a demographic whose entire ideology is being on the right side of history.

Raised to believe that history inevitably trended toward diversity in catalog models, fusion restaurants and gay marriage, the Arab Spring led them on by promising that the Middle East would be just like Europe and then ISIS tore up their Lonely Planet guidebook to Syria and chopped off their heads.

But ISIS also believes that it’s on the right side of history. Its history is the Koran. The right side of its history is what Iraq and Syria look like today. It’s also how parts of Europe are starting to look.

Progressive politicians and pundits trying to cope with ISIS lapse into a shrill incoherence that has nothing to do with their outrage at its atrocities and a lot to do with their sheer incomprehension. Terms like “apocalyptic nihilism” get thrown around as if heavy metal were beginning to make a comeback.

Those few analysts who admit that the Islamic State might be a just a little Islamic emphasize that it’s a medieval throwback, as if there were some modern version of Islam to compare it to. …

Islam never became enlightened. It never stopped being ‘medieval’. Whatever enlightenment it received was imposed on it by European colonialism. It’s a second-hand enlightenment that never went under the skin.

ISIS isn’t just seventh century Islam. It’s also much more recent than that. It’s Islam before the French and the English came. It’s what the Muslim world was like before it was forced to have presidents and constitutions, before it was forced to at least pay lip service to the alien notion of equal rights for all.

The media reported the burning of the Jordanian pilot as if it were some horrifying and unprecedented aberration. But Muslim heretics, as well as Jews and Christians accused of blasphemy, were burned alive for their crimes against Islam. Numerous accounts of this remain, not from the seventh century, but from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those who weren’t burned, might be beheaded.

These were not the practices of some apocalyptic death cult. They were the Islamic law in the “cosmopolitan” parts of North Africa. The only reason they aren’t the law now is that the French left behind some of their own laws.

Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia that were never truly colonized still behead men and women for “witchcraft and sorcery.” Not in the seventh century or even in the nineteenth century. Last year.

The problem isn’t that ISIS is ‘medieval’. The problem is that Islam is.

———

This is just an excerpt. Do read the whole thing. In a world where everyone seems to be talking either complete nonsense, an alien language, or is taking way too many anti-depressants, this is a refreshing take that we are not hearing from the president today, or John Kerry  yesterday.

“You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not admit exists,” Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, told a House hearing last week. “I really, really strongly believe that the American public needs and wants moral, intellectual and really strategic clarity and courage on this threat.”



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.



Rudy Giuliani Unleashed, and Fed Up! by The Elephant's Child

Published on Feb 13, 2015

Rudy Giuliani is angry and fed up. He excoriates Barack Obama for his weak and feckless policies toward the global threats of radical Islam and a nuclear-armed Iran. This powerful speech was delivered at the Iranian-American Community symposium “Countering Islamic Fundamentalism, and a Nuclear-Armed Iran,” February 13, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Part 1 of 2 parts.

Part 2

 



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.



It’s Not About Terrorism, It’s About the Lack of Opportunity by The Elephant's Child

Last night on Hardball on MSNBC, Host Chris Matthews interviewed State Department spokesgirl Marie Harf, who explained to viewers just why Obama’s attempts to deal with ISIS have been so ineffective.

Remember that Marie Harf, as a spokesperson, does not express her own opinion, but the opinion of her boss, Secretary Kerry, the administration and the president. So this is Obama ‘s foreign policy:

MATTHEWS: Are we killing enough of them?

HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether…

MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor Muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?

HARF: We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people…

It must often seem that conservatives are anxious to find anything that will reflect badly on Obama, but it’s the policies that are the problem, and I think Conservatives are seriously worried about national security, do not feel that the administration understands the problem, and fears that they want to make a deal with Iran, the evil state that sponsors the terrorism that we see in the world.

Conservatives are inclined to believe the “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” shouts of their officials. The “root causes” theme always has some appeal to the West, because it offers a simple, and simple-minded cure. But it never works and has been proven wrong over and over. Democrats just can’t bring themselves to believe in evil, except when applied to Republicans or anyone else who stands in their way.

And sorry, Marie. Wars are always won by killing the enemy, until they are so utterly defeated that they give up abjectly and permanently. Wars are not won with peace treaties, nor with amelioration of root causes. Wars are won by defeating the enemy. Mr. Obama is more concerned about global warming than the threat of Islamic terrorism, which he cannot even dignify by naming it.

The President does not know what he is talking about. He misconstrues Vladimir Putin, and does not know his history. He does not understand Iran, and does not grasp their intentions. He has surrounded himself with yes-men and women, and does not listen to disagreement. A president needs to have those who disagree with his policies around, so he can learn what the opposition thinks, and evaluate whether his own position is correct. He needs to be probing the best minds he can find, to learn and ponder ideas other than his own.

ADDENDUM:The jihadists recruited from Western countries are usually, according to studies, from comfortable middle class families, or well-to-do parents, who have been radicalized by charismatic preachers or recruiters. Poverty and lack of opportunity are not usually the problem.




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