American Elephants


The Problem of Turkey Grows — Revolution or Counterrevolution? by The Elephant's Child

Turkey-Map

Europe has, in general, thought of Turkey as their bulwark against the hordes of Islamic migrants (heavily infiltrated with ISIS fighters). The democratically elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has just been the subject of a military coup (while he was absent from the country) which failed. Many believe that it was not a real coup, but Erdogan’s own plot to dispose of future military coups, and confirm his preferred position of lifetime dictator of a radical Islamist state. That seems to be the customary and approved  form of governance in the Islamist states of the Middle East. It does not bode well.

Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup crisis to justify a major crackdown on his enemies. He seems to have a prepared list, ready to go, of officers and judges who have already been arrested in the thousands, along with civic leaders, journalists, professors, and government employees. The government is calling on the people to protest in the streets, and encouraging jihadists and IS sympathizers to raid the homes of secular people beat them and kill them.

David P. Goldman, who also writes as Spengler,  is expert in matters of demography and finance. He says that Turkey has built up a bubble of debt, financing consumption with debt. Consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, compared to 20% here, which horrifies conservative economists.  Turkey’s average interest rate as consumer debt, according to the central bank, is just under 17%. The birth rate for Turks is way down, while the birth rate for Kurdish Turks remains healthy—but they want to form their own country with Kurds from Syria and Iraq.

An article by Soner Cagaptay in the Wall Street Journal captures the dangerous moment in history for the Turkish nation:

In 2014, Mr. Erdogan, acceding to term limits, stepped down as prime minister and as the head of the AKP. He instead assumed the presidency—a formerly weak office that he has been steadily transforming. The coup gives Mr. Erdogan an excuse to press ahead with his plans to cobble together a parliamentary majority; he intends to amend Turkey’s Constitution and take over the posts of prime minister and AKP chairman in addition to being president.

This process, which would make Mr. Erdogan the most powerful person in Turkey since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950, fits into his gradualist approach to consolidating power. At the same time, it presents a risk: In the two most recent elections, Mr. Erdogan’s AKP has maxed out at 49.5% support, and although the president’s popularity has risen since the coup, there is no guarantee that this bump will last until the next elections, which, depending on when Mr. Erdogan calls them, could be as late as next year.

The quickest path to power is Islamist revolution. Erdogan supporters are Islamists and jihadists and protesting in the streets. An Islamist counter-revolution would mean the loss of its NATO membership, exposing the country to neighboring enemies, including Russia. And an economic meltdown is not unlikely.

If Mr. Erdogan were to pump up religious fervor further, he could convert the religious counter-coup d’état into an Islamist counter-revolution, ending Turkey’s status as a secular democracy. Adding to the temptation is the fact that the military, divided and discredited in the public eye following the failed coup, is in no position to prevent a counterrevolution.



Military Coup in Turkey. by The Elephant's Child

There is a military coup in Turkey. The Turkish military claims success. Erdogan has departed, but Germany refused permission for his plane to land. Anti-coup protest in Istanbul. Nothing confirmed. All iffy information from twitter and other social media.

Military coups have long been a feature of Ataturk’s secular Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged citizens to take to the streets to fight the coup. Turkey is a member of NATO.

The Turkish military said in a statement that it was seizing control to “reestablish Addendum:constitutional order” as it moved to take over all government responsibilities.

ADDENDUM: Erdogan has returned to Turkey, claims the coup attempt is over, and plotters will be heavily punished. At least 42 people have been killed in attacks. An Istanbul hospital is reportedly treating at least 150 wounded people. Erdogan is apparently pushing for an authoritarian Islamic regime. All will eventually become clear, or at least clearer.



Iran Is Violating the “Iran Deal”, The Administration Ignores Intelligence. by The Elephant's Child

Germany has passed along intelligence that Iran has accelerated its efforts to buy nuclear materials that would allow it to build a nuclear bomb, but also is trying to purchase  parts that will assist in its missile program, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The Obama administration has declined to comment and told the Free Beacon that it continues to view Iran as complying with the nuclear accord.

Germany’s internal intelligence agency concluded in a recent report that sources have witnessed “extensive Iranian attempts” to procure illicit materials, “especially goods that can be used in the field of nuclear technology,” according to the report. The report appears to show that Iran is not upholding its most critical commitments under the nuclear deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear this week that the intelligence shows “Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council,” particularly one Security Council resolution that bars Iran from pursuing ballistic missile technology.

Reuters reports that “Iran’s ballistic missile launches ‘are not consistent with the constructive spirit’ of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, but it is up to the United Nations Security Council to decide if they violated a resolution,” according to UN Chief Ban Ki-moon.

Bret Stephens writes at the Wall Street Journal that :

The administration is now weighing whether to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. That would neutralize a future president’s ability to impose sanctions on Iran, since WTO rules would allow Tehran to sue Washington for interfering with trade. The administration has also pushed the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that enforces anti-money-laundering standards, to ease pressure on Iran, which FATF did last month by suspending some restrictions for the next year.

And then there’s the Boeing deal to sell $17.6 billion worth of jets to Iran, which congressional Republicans led by Illinois’s Pete Roskam are trying to stop. Iran uses its civilian fleet to ferry weapons and fighters to its terrorist clients in Syria and Lebanon.

“The administration is trying to lock in the Iran deal and prevent a future president from doing anything, including pushing back on Iran’s malign behavior,” says the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, who knows more about Iran sanctions than anyone in Washington. “Instead of curbing Iran’s worst behavior, the administration effectively facilitates it.”

Mr. Obama continues to regard his Iran Deal as a great triumph, and says that Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, but German intelligence tells  us that Tehran is violating the deal aggressively. Obama promised “unprecedented” inspections, but we’re not allowed to inspect. Obama promised an eight-year ban on Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, but Tehran immediately and repeatedly violated that ban. but we only mildly protested.

The Obama administration has agreed to buy 32 tons of Iran’s heavy water, a key component in atomic-weapons development. This is supposed to encourage them to stick to the nuclear agreement. We’re also trying to help their international trade. The possibility that their intentions are not pure and peaceful is apparently not part of the “narrative”.

Iran has been waging war with us since 1979, overtly and covertly. Obama just wants to turn over the management of the querulous Middle East to the more enlightened and better educated Persians. The Ayatollah Khomeinei keeps leading chants of Death to Israel, Death to America, but Obama assumes that to be just public relations. Odd kind of PR.



A Little History, Fourth of July 2008, Bagdhad by The Elephant's Child

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq. [read more]

Now that’s patriotism!

These men and women, and a total of 8,000 troops from seven bases around Iraq were then treated to 3,000 fresh, authentic deep-dish Chicago style pizzas, shipped directly from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago:

The 3,000 pizzas — each with a pound of cheese and packed with other toppings — were cooked by Lou Malnati’s Restaurant staffers last week, then shipped though New York, Belgium and Bahrain on their way to U.S. troops around Baghdad.

The logistical nightmare of frozen freight and military regulations cost nearly $100,000 to pull off, most of that coming from donations from the restaurant chain and DHL Express.

But the idea came from retired Master Sgt. Mark Evans and his 16-year-old son Kent, Illinois residents who have sent much smaller care packages to overseas troops in the past

“My son and I were having a man’s night — eating some of Lou’s pizza while the women were out — and they were talking about the war on TV,” he said. “He asked me about the food over there, and I told him, ‘They do their best, but it’s not like home cooking. They don’t have pizza like this there.’

“Then he asked if we could get some over there.”

The military provided ribs, corn on the cob and red, white and blue cake for others, and yet other troops had no special Fourth of July celebrations, just hard work in unforgiving heat.



Why Won’t Barack Obama Say the Words “Radical Islam”? by The Elephant's Child

obama gray
Why does Barack Obama refuse to utter the words “Radical Islam?” Why does the phrase in the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” which has a clear meaning, seem to prohibit our federal agencies from doing necessary background inquiries regarding those who appear to be radicalized Muslims?  Major Nidal Hassan who fatally shot 13 people at Fort Hood and wounded more than 30 others was clearly observed to be radicalized and dangerous, but nobody would do anything about it because he was Muslim.

Omar Mateen was allowed to avoid serious investigation because he was a Muslim. He blamed his actions on Islamophobia. He talked a lot about how he wanted to kill people. Disney reported that Mateen and his wife were casing Disney World back in April. But real investigation stopped because he was a Muslim.

After the deadliest mass shooting in American history. President Obama was angry, impassioned — at Republicans? Huh? David Harsanyi notes the occasion at NRO: (Do read the whole thing)

“That’s the key,” they tell us,” Obama said, eviscerating the GOP. “We can’t beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?

Victor Davis Hanson wrote about Orlando and “domestic terrorism:”

Most disturbing is the serial inability of the Obama administration — in this case as after the attacks at Fort Hood and in Boston and San Bernardino — even to name the culprits as radical Islamists. Major Hasan shouts “Allahu akbar!” and Omar Mateen calls 911 in mediis interfectis to boast of his ISIS affiliation — and yet the administration can still not utter the name of the catalyst of their attacks: radical Islam. It is hard to envision any clearer Islamist self-identification, other than name tags and uniforms. The Obama team seems to fear the unwelcome public responses to these repeated terrorist operations rather than seeing them as requisites for changing policies to prevent their recurrence.

The current Leftist seems to be consumed by the belief that Michelle Obama derived from her husband. “All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be,” which seems to be derived from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. They dream of an imagined world  that is self-evidently superior to the existing order. Their world is consumed with the glorious future of which they dream and the current battle against the Right.

That leaves little time for reflection or study, so they rely heavily on leftist talking points that are handed down to the press and to Democratic spokesmen. That’s why there are always examples of the entire Democrat apparatus speaking of the same event in exactly the same words. Talking points. And they seem remarkably ill-informed.

Obama clearly was influenced by the years he spent in Muslim Indonesia before he was 10 years old, but there is no evidence that he is Muslim. Many of us believe that his much ballyhooed “Iran Deal” is an absolute disaster and a major danger to the United States, yet the president sees it as a great accomplishment. Why?

I believe he sees the Middle East in a domestic battle between Sunni and Shia for dominance, which we ignited — with the Invasion of Iraq — and made worse with our brutal treatment of the Iraqis, killing Muslims and destroying property. Obama’s closest advisor is Valerie Jarrett who was raised in Iran.

He regards Arab Muslims with their wealth and palaces and yachts as the problem, and the enlightened and educated Persians as a better class to control the Middle East. He believes we should turn the entire area over to the Iranians to manage. He thinks we have no business in the Middle East at all, and believes America should play a smaller role in the world, as just one among many nations. He sees the cries of the Ayatollah for “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” as some sort of rallying cry or public relations, but not anything that is meant seriously. He said, when he was trying to sell his Iran Deal to Americans, that he did not believe that Iran would ever use a nuclear weapon.

Obama, we are told, does not change his mind. Once he believes something, it is set in concrete. He was heavily influenced by Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American firebrand professor of Middle East studies at Columbia, and I assume Obama believes that Israel is the major problem in the Middle East. Obama’s great accomplishment was to create a “two-state solution”, and he is furious that he hasn’t been able to bring it about. Palestinians aren’t ready to stop trying to kill Israelis with rockets and stabbings and tunnels to attack Israelis in their homes, which is somewhat inclined to give the Israelis a jaundiced view of the fabled “Peace Process.”

I have no expertise in the Middle East, never been there, this is only what I have derived from my reading, but I do read a lot. When an enemy leads chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,”and hangs citizens of his own country who disagree with him, I’m inclined to believe him. When they demand the ability to build nuclear plants that are clearly not needed to produce power, and everybody says they are developing nuclear weapons, I’m inclined to believe them. When they are pursing intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon, I’m a more than a little skeptical about Mr. Obama’s Iran Deal. That’s why he won’t say “Radical Islam.”



Focusing on the Anger of the People! by The Elephant's Child

11caucus.480
The temper out there is quite remarkable, remarkably nasty to be precise. Our current election campaign is quite the nastiest I can ever remember, and anger seethes through the comments of even the most staid columns.

Britain is in the same spot with the battle over BREXIT —Britain’s upcoming vote over whether to exit the European Union or stay in.  Only Britain has a scheduled vote, but there is plenty of rumbling in other European nations who are not happy with the influx of migrants, and the response of their governments. The future is uncertain and the people know it and are not pleased with the preparedness.

It’s hard for most Americans to imagine that they would choose to stay in. We’re not much on unelected government passing down laws to regulate our lives, and having no ability to even say ‘Hey Wait a minute! You can’t do that.’ Well, they can and do.

Bureaucrats are the same all over the world. They discover power and that, pushed for, there is no end to the power they can accrue to themselves. They start out intending to do right by the people, and end up establishing a dictatorship, and enriching themselves and their friends and relatives. When people start out promising hope and change, you’d better inquire a bit more deeply into exactly what they mean by the pretty slogans.

We were lucky to be founded by men brought up under English Common Law and the Magna Charta. and all too familiar with the Wars of Religion, but they were soon busy with trying to survive and build communities and deal with wild animals and the native people. A number of the earliest settlers returned to England to fight in the English Civil War with Oliver Cromwell.

In a world run mostly by the divine right of Kings, or Caliphs, or Sultans, or Czars — Democracy and Liberty were an enormous shock to the system, and few expected it to last. The French tried with their bloody Revolution, and ended up with the Napoleonic Wars.

It is particularly interesting then, that the Left, the radical Left, is so determined on eliminating democracy in the name of complete control. It is fairly clear when they want to send “deniers” to prison on RICO charges for disagreeing with their idea that global warming is a huge crisis, when they want to do away with the Second Amendment, as well as the rest of the Constitution, reject patriotism and its traditions — like the Pledge of Allegiance, support open borders and reject our immigration laws.

I have been startled at the way the leftist media speaks the same leftist ‘talking points’ all at once, in the same words with the same exact punctuation, but I never realized what I was seeing and hearing until I posted the video below about “It’s Just What ISIL Wants.” They do it all the time, and we don’t really notice. But that is a very different kind of journalism than we expect in a free country! You can think of dozens of different subjects in which they have tried to set the agenda by repetition of precisely the same words. That is not thought, nor is it journalism — who hands our the talking points? Think Progress?

We have a generation or two of ambitious youngsters who have signed on, not to accurately report events, but to put a label on things before the ordinary person has time to think it through — in the goal of changing the world. I can remember it being reported that the journalism schools were producing young reporters ambitious to change the world. I should have paid more attention. That is really the problem, isn’t it? We are just not paying close enough attention.



Understanding the Obvious is Sometimes Difficult by The Elephant's Child

ISIS Executions
I suspect that ISIS is having trouble with their fighters losing enthusiasm for the fight. More deserters. There have been reports in recent days that they are putting the disaffected in cages and dissolving them slowly in acid baths, and/or feeding them to viscous and starving dogs.

That is the idea of terrorism of course — to defeat the enemy by striking terror into his heart. But they seem to be running out of really gruesome ways to dispose of people. Beheading is passé. They’ve tried setting victims on fire in cages, and drowning them in cages — and apparently they are still having trouble with a lack of eagerness and a desire to escape among the militants.

Is this a good sign? It does make the official position of never calling a terrorist a terrorist seem a little silly, doesn’t it. And perhaps releasing “the worst of the worst” from Guantanamo in order to please European leftists isn’t such a good idea after all.

Here’s Charles Krauthammer on “the arc of the moral universe” which Obama insists “is long, but bends towards justice.”




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