American Elephants


Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton on events in Iraq, Negotiations with Iran, and Life in the U.S. Senate. by The Elephant's Child

This young Senator is going to be President of the United States one day. This episode of Uncommon Knowledge was published on April 8, 2015.

ADDENDUM: President Obama was mightily annoyed by the letter Tom Cotton and 46 other Senate colleagues sent to the Ayatollah Khamenei simply explaining that any agreement reached by the president could be revoked by the next president or modified by Congress. Obama attempted to say such interference was uncalled for, and detrimental to the national good. Today, the Center for Security Policy sent a thank you letter to Senator Cotton and the other 46 senators containing the signatures of more than 150 security experts, including a former United States ambassador, multiple high-ranking military officials and other security experts. The letter read in part:

“Given the chimerical nature of the so-called framework agreement—which is, at the moment, being characterized in wildly different ways by the various parties, raising profound uncertainty about the nature and extent of the commitments Iran is making, their actual value in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapons program, the timing and extent of sanctions relief, etc.—the need for congressional oversight, advice and consent concerning any accord that flows from that agreement can no longer responsibly be denied.“

“It would be a serious affront to the Constitution and to the American people were an agreement of this potentially enormous strategic consequence not to be submitted for such action by the Congress.  Grievous insult would be added to injury should the United Nations Security Council instead be asked to approve it.”



Obama’s Sales Push for His Nonexistent Deal With Iran Reveals His Own Failings by The Elephant's Child

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

Obama responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In his Rose Garden statement, Obama said:

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Obama’s “Good Deal” is a Self-Serving Fantasy by The Elephant's Child

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Reported: Obama ordered Secretary Kerry to continue talking in Lausanne even though deadline had passed.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — (Washington Post) “Negotiators from Iran and major world powers reached agreement Thursday on a framework for a final agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions an accord that President Obama hailed as a “good deal” that would make the world a safer place.”

Obama appeared in the Rose Garden to say that the U.S. and its partners “reached a historic understanding with Iran which if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Poor Obama, He is so desperate for “a deal” that he has turned over everything the Iranians could possibly want, in return for some vague promises that will be meaningless. Close observers have said that he expects this ‘accomplishment’ to equal Nixon’s opening up China. Instead he may have signed America’s death warrant, and Israel’s.

America is an open society, we hang most of our secrets out on a clothesline for all the world to see — and hackers get a good percentage of the rest. Hardening off our electric grid? EMP attacks? Just yesterday some Russian expert suggested that the best way to end America would be to drop a nuclear bomb on Yellowstone. Not defeat — destroy. When is the last time that The United States of America ever suggested destroying another country?

Obama’s speech in the Rose Garden was so full of straw men that it was embarrassing. He even claimed the authority of a push poll yesterday that asked such a mushy-soft question that both Hitler and Mother Teresa would have signed on. UN Officials have said that Iran is already blocking their efforts to track what is going on in their nuclear program. We not only don’t know how advanced their program is, we don’t know for sure how many facilities they have.

Thomas Sowell wrote today:

The Soviet Union was never suicidal, so the fact that we could annihilate their cities if they attacked ours was a sufficient deterrent to a nuclear attack from them. But will that deter fanatics with an apocalyptic vision? Should we bet the lives of millions of Americans on our ability to deter nuclear war with Iran?

It is now nearly 70 years since nuclear bombs were used in war. Long periods of safety in that respect have apparently led many to feel as if the danger is not real. But the dangers are even greater now and the nuclear bombs more devastating.

Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may — probably will — be the most catastrophic decision in human history. And it can certainly change human history, irrevocably, for the worse.

The Iraqi Prime Minister said “We will continue enriching. We won’t close facilities and all sanctions will be terminated.” Obama seems to believe that they are just developing nuclear energy for peaceful domestic purposes. If so, why the intercontinental ballistic missiles? And why, when they are a major oil-producing country, do they need nuclear energy? We don’t even know how close or far their development of a bomb is — Obama is claiming 10 years, too far away to be blamed on him, but other sources say as little as 45 days.

We had a powerful restraint in place. Iran supposedly requires a $130 per barrel price for oil to break even, and the price has dropped below $50. Obama compared himself to Richard Nixon and to John Kennedy negotiating nuclear deals with the Soviet Union, but both of them submitted their agreements to Congress for approval.



The Truth Will Out, And It’s Totally Absurd! by The Elephant's Child

This sentence appeared in an early Wednesday Reuters update on the current state of the talks over Iran’s nuclear program. Thanks to Washington Examiner for calling our attention to it. It sums up the state of the Iran talks quite nicely!

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

I wonder whether they are quoting Secretary Kerry or Wendy Sherman?




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