American Elephants


Defense Secretary James Mattis: 95% of ISIS Eradicated Under Trump. by The Elephant's Child

Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced this last week that 95% of ISIS bases and hideouts have been eradicated. Good News indeed. Deciding that you actually do intend to defeat them makes a difference. Obama seemed concerned that he might be blamed for something. ISIS fighters have been surrendering saying they haven’t been paid and haven’t been fed, and little things like that seem to matter.

Good for our coalition. Hope they all got a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, and the gratitude of a nation giving thanks.

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Iran Threatens to Attack All U.S. Bases in the Region by The Elephant's Child

According to Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon, a top Iranian Military commander has threatened to launch ballistic missile strikes on all U.S. bases in the region. The Islamic Republic is anxious to show off their advanced missile capabilities, which is capable of striking U.S forces up to 1,300 miles away, which includes all U.S. bases in the region.

Credit for this debacle goes directly to Barack Obama, who hoped that nobody would notice when he shipped piles of cash ($400 million) in foreign denominations in an unmarked cargo plane to the mullahs in Iran to be delivered at midnight.

The question that was debated was whether the payment ( of $400 million) was actually a ransom paid for the release of American hostages Tehran had abducted, which he hotly denied saying that “we don’t pay ransoms,”  He said the reason that we had to give them cash is because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran.

The sanctions which he wanted to preserve, prohibit Americans and financial institutions from engaging in currency transactions that involve Iran’s government. Iran remains on our government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

There is a consensus in Washington that the U.S. needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic. Nobody seems to want to clarify just what is meant by “push back.” President Trump’s response with cruise missiles in the early morning hours after the Russians had been warned doesn’t suggest the the Trump administration really wants to escalate. Reuel Marc Gerecht summed up the situation back at the end of July for the Hoover Institution. Not hopeful. It remains a very difficult subject.



How the EU went Wrong and Why they did. by The Elephant's Child

George W. Bush gave a speech last Thursday at “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World” event in New York City. Politico called it a speech on Trumpism, but they were perhaps a bit hasty with their definition. But then, any opportunity to accuse Trump of designated awfulness, is the goal of the current news media.  I had admired George Bush for his ability to avoid speaking out on politics as a past president, especially in not commenting on Obama who had canceled all his executive orders, which must be galling.   I know it’s hard, but we really don’t want to hear from past presidents or past candidates. Their time is past.

We’re having some trouble with definitions, and throwing way too many “isms” around:  nationalism and nativism, for example. The Left, big on wide open borders, prefers to define nativism something evil, as if favoring your own citizens over illegal immigrants is reprehensible? Look up the definition of nativism. Other troublesome words are bigotry, prejudice, civility and incivility, and immigrant and migrant. ABC recently called illegal aliens (illegal: not according to law, alien: owing allegiance to some other nation) to avoid using such negative language, “undocumented citizens.” No, they’re not.

We are living in a time when the difference between undocumented citizens, immigrants and migrants is increasingly important. Europe, because of their cradle-to-grave social welfare benefits, has a declining birthrate. Because they have a declining birthrate, without enough young people working to pay for the cradle-to-grave social welfare benefits they so generously offered in order to get elected, they thought by inviting more immigrants to work and pay for the benefits, they could still prosper. “Poor” Americans have more living space than ordinary Europeans who are not poor. And more amenities.

The inviting immigrants in was a mistake for Europeans. They were feeling sorry for those in Middle Eastern refugee camps, and the well-meant invitation quickly became a flow of migrants from every hell-hole on the planet, and many ordinary countries that just didn’t have the presumed wealth of Europe.

Charles Hill explained how modernity went astray, based on a system that made room for wide cultural diversity based on a judicial doctrine of “the equality of states.”      (Do read Hill’s whole piece linked just above. It’s not long.)

The EU would become a new form of trans-national entity that would eschew war, abolish sovereign borders, exalt diplomacy, and supersede the Westphalian system by offering the world a compelling model of how to dismantle the state by devolving some of its powers downward according to the concept of “subsidiarity” while pulling other powers up into a pan-European bureaucracy in Brussels which, however defined, would not be a state. The EU assured that it was entirely un-religious and noted the care with which the text of its voluminous constitution – unratified – avoided any reference to Europe’s Christian heritage.

Put simply, the EU made itself the epitome of the Modern Age by relentless secularization. Islamism, emerging from the post-World War I collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Caliphate, made itself the vanguard of jihadist religion’s rise to become the implacable adversary of modernity. If Europe is where the siege is to take place, the drawbridge already is up:

Ambassador Hill adds: “Transatlantic unity has been the keystone of the defense and extension of freedom in wartime for a hundred years and must remain so.”

It is not the EU but NATO that has been the key to transatlantic solidarity. Strengthening NATO as a military alliance with political consequences in support of a reformed EU must be at the core of American policy. NATO’s role “out of area” will be vital along with continued efforts to integrate like-minded partners to the extent possible: Russia, Israel, the Gulf Arab states. The Modern Age itself is at stake.



The Iran Deal: What it Is and What it Isn’t by The Elephant's Child

Confusion reigns over every mention of the “Iran Deal.” And it is back in the news and at a moment in time when confusion over every tiny thing about the Trump administration, not to mention the large things, seems to set off what might be called a panic attack in the Democrats. Any ability to talk about such things calmly and seriously has gone by the wayside. It’s some kind of contagious dementia.

Iran is not a friendly Middle Eastern country. They support most of the worlds terrorism and terrorists, are attempting to become a nuclear power, are making trouble wherever they can in the Middle East and elsewhere, and generally fall in the category of bad guys. Very bad guys.

The Obama administration signed a nuclear deal with Iran. It is not a treaty, but just an informal deal to relieve sanctions on Iran if they stop trying to get nuclear weapons. They are supposed to get inspections to see if they are doing what they claim, but that isn’t happening, and everybody’s worried about what will happen, what the Trump administration will do, what can be done or not done. All is confusion.

Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at AEI on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Middle East and Terrorism in general, has spelled out the facts of the deal and attempted to alleviate the confusion so we have some understanding among the reports from the media, most of whom don’t seem to understand any more than we do.

Do read the whole thing, or better yet print it out or save it. This is going to be a major bone of contention for some time yet, and the Democrats are off the tracks, partly because it was an Obama effort, partly because they are quite sure that Trump is starting a new war, or is too irrational to do the right thing, or is anxious to start something or who knows what catastrophe the evil Trump will devise.  In other words, we need to know what they are talking about. Knowing what they are talking about is the best defense.



Hungry and Demoralized, ISIS Surrenders in Hawija by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday, off in corners of the internet which was all a-flame with the latest accusers of Harvey Weinstein, there was brief mention of the defeat of of ISIS in the northern Iraqi town of Hawija — one of its last strongholds in Iraq. Around 1,000 militants surrendered among signs that the terrorist group is falling apart and unable to defend its territory.

“They’re giving up,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, who commands the coalition task force fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “Their leaders are abandoning them.”

The fall of Hawija in northern Iraq, after two weeks of fighting, is the latest in a string of defeats for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and suggests the rank-and-file fighters are demoralized as the group struggles to defend what remains of the territory it seized in 2014.

Hawija had been held by about 1,000 militants. As long as they held Hawija they could threaten Kirkuk, a major city east of the town. Coalition airstrikes have been ramping up attacks on the strongholds left in Iraq. Iraqi forces have been built up with help of U.S. arms and equipment, but the decision on when to launch ground operations is made by the Iraqi government.

In July, Iraq announced that Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, was retaken from ISIS after about nine months of intense fighting. Since that decisive battle, the pace of the Islamic State’s decline seems to have quickened.

U.S.-backed forces in Syria have recaptured about three-quarters of Raqqa, the ISIS headquarters, after about four months of fighting in the city.

ISIS reputation for the willingness to fight to the last man and never surrender seems to be gone. Surrendering forces came out with their hands up, saying their leaders have abandoned them. They haven’t been fed and haven’t been paid. Last week the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio demanding his fighters to continue the battle, but they don’t seem to be paying attention.

The fall of Harvey Weinstein may be just as important as the fall of Hawija, but was anyone surprised? Hollywood has long been known as a cesspool. His disgusting trail of victims may be long, but ISIS has been trying to terrorize the world into submission. Beheadings and placing victims in iron cages to drown or burn to death didn’t seem to be a way to entice people to accept Islam. But that is in the far away Middle East, and Weinstein and kneeling football millionaires are here and local.

I don’t know that anyone, at this point, expects the media to act responsibly.



This Is What Passes for News These Days by The Elephant's Child

There are small mentions of what would seem to be unimportant news items, but if you follow up and see what the Leftists with bylines do with it, it gets pretty funny. Here’s what happened. President Trump declined to hold a “Iftar Dinner” at the White House to celebrate Ramadan. (Translation, nothing happened because there was no dinner and there were no invitations). Can’t let something like that pass without comment (see Islamophobia). The ‘establishment media” promptly tried to turn it into a crisis.

“Amy B. Wang of the Washington Post led the pack” with a claim that Thomas Jefferson held the “first Iftar Dinner” with a June 24 piece titled “Trump just ended a long tradition of celebrating Ramadan at the White House.” She even “recounted the time when the diplomatic envoy from the Bey of Tunis, Sidi Soliman Melli Melli, visited Washington during Ramadan in 1805.”

Jefferson invited the envoy to dinner at the White House at 3:30 PM, the time when dinner was usually served in those days. He was told that Melli Melli could not partake of a meal until after sunset because of Ramadan. It was either cancel the dinner or change the time, which he did. He had no intention of honoring Islam, didn’t ask about any special food. In fact, there was no tradition. Only three presidents in all of American history ever held an Iftar dinner: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.  Three presidents out of 45 does not a “tradition” make.  Do recall that Jefferson fought the Barbary pirates. Obama claimed in 2010, that his Ramadan dinner was the first since Jefferson, but his speechwriters were not known for research accuracy.

Interestingly, it seems that Islamic extremists killed more than 1,620 people during this year’s holy month for Muslims, making it one of the bloodiest Ramadans in history. At the end of Ramadan on Saturday, the total number of casualties for the entire holy month reached 3,451 (421 deaths 729 injuries) more than tripling the 1,150 casualties from 2016. ISIS issued many messages urging its followers to carry out deadly attacks in the United State, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Philippines. Except for Russia, they did carry out attacks. Breitbart has a list of all the attacks they have been able to record. It’s a very long list. Does fasting and avoiding sex from dawn to dusk make a person particularly irritable?  Who knew? So — news, fake news, bad research, overreach, dumb journalists. But that’s what passes for news these days.

ADDENDUM: Well, now that I’m fully awake, the math doesn’t add up 421 deaths +729 injuries adds up to 1,150 apparently from last year. If this year is a total of 3,451, that would indeed by a tripling. The error was in the original post, and I just unthinkingly copied it. Sorry about that.



Democratic Female Senators And Identity Politics by The Elephant's Child

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing last week on political Islam, also referred to as ‘Islamism.’ The committee invited four witnesses: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Asra Q. Nomani, Michael E. Leiter, former director of the U.S National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and John Lenczowski, president of the Institute of World Politics. The hearing called our attention to the dysfunction that we face in addressing the topic.

The two female witnesses were on edge. Earlier that day, a shooter had attacked the Republican baseball team in Alexandria, and only moments before the hearing began a man wearing a Muslim prayer cap had stood up and heckled them, putting Capitol police on high alert. They were expecting tough questions. Both women had been born into deeply conservative Muslim families. Both have been threatened with death by jihadists for things they have said and done. Ayann, who survived genital mutilation and forced marriage, and Asra defied Sharia by having a baby while unmarried. Ayann cannot appear in public without armed guards.

The four female Democratic senators, Clair McCaskill, Missouri; Kamala Harris, California; Heidi Heitcamp,North Dakota; and Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire; are ardent feminists, so the witnesses might have expected sympathetic questions. Senator Claire McCaskill,  announced that she took issue with the theme of the hearing itself. “Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule.” she said. “We should not focus on religion,” she said, adding that she was “worried” that the hearing organized by Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, would “underline that.”

Ayaan and Asra emphasized the meaning of what went down:

[W]hat happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world.

When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

[W]hen we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

Why?

Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

Obama made a big deal about helping refugees, largely because they were expected to become Democrat voters. Refugees from communist totalitarian states like Cuba and Venezuela, were rejected.  Identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness are more important than real information or some victims are more important than other victims. Things like sex slavery, violent jihad, genital mutilation, honor killings, polygamy or child marriage simply don’t measure up to equal pay for women (federal law since 1963).

They didn’t ask the two women a single question. Not just rude, for the two women were invited guests as well as witnesses who are pro-democracy, pro-free speech, pro-freedom Muslims. What an excellent chance to learn a little more about the Muslim religion and Islamic ideology firsthand.

Mackubin Owens pointed out that “Islamism isn’t a religion. It’s a political system at war with us. Political Islam seems to be the front runner in who is the most oppressed of all?  They cannot be criticized even if it means throwing other favored victim groups under the bus. Islamists punish homosexuals with death by throwing them off tall buildings or stoning, but “Islamophobia” trumps “homophobia.” The problem is distinguishing between Islam as a religion and political Islam as a system for organizing society. This is a pathology that is aimed at effecting the final destruction of the West.  We can’t seem to get our minds around that simple fact.

 




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