American Elephants

Um, Agreement in Geneva? Not So Fast! by The Elephant's Child

It appears that the Document agreed to in Geneva between the P5 +1 ( U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and Iran might well be two different documents. Each side has a different interpretation of the interim understanding reached on November 24.

From the remarks of the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jarad Zarif on Iranian television, the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran. The Iranians regard enrichment as their right, and judges that it will need little time to recover its production capabilities of 20-percent enriched uranium. There will be no legal obligations. “Today, we are only unscrewing two taps between a cascade and if we decide to enrich uranium to 20 percent, we will do it in a period of 24 hours.”

Secretary Kerry, on the other hand, says that the measures will address “the most urgent concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. It locks in the most critical components of a nuclear program into place and impedes progress in those critical components in a way that actually rolls back the stockpile of enriched uranium and widens the length of time possible for breakout. That makes people safer.” He adds that daily access to key facilities will enable us to determine with greater certainty than ever before that Iran  is complying.

There you go. That should make you feel better. It could, of course, be worse. The media is reminding us that there is a giant caldera under Yellowstone Park that could explode any time and destroy the whole country.


How Worried Should We Be About Iran? Very. by The Elephant's Child


So many of President Obama’s policies leave one puzzled. What can he possibly be thinking? Why would he do this? Why would he assume this to be a good idea? Particularly in the case of the interim agreement that the United States and its partners cut with Iran last week in Geneva which seems to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The core objective of the past two decades — preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — and threatening fundamental regional and global interests have been ignored. Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, strengthening the forces of radicalism and terrorism in the region — what can he be thinking?

We have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who pursued a policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler, and agreed to the Nazi demand that Czechoslovakia should cede the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany to stave off a threatened invasion — without consulting the Czechs.

Obama does manifest some of Chamberlain’s trusting naïveté and insular self-righteousness. More important perhaps, like Chamberlain, Obama thinks his job is to accommodate domestic war-weariness and to keep us out of foreign conflicts. Also like Chamberlain, Obama in the Middle East has inclined toward appeasing Muslims at the expense of Jews in the Holy Land. And like Chamberlain, Obama will go down in history as a failed leader of the leading Western democracy, one whose policies will have to be reversed—one hopes this time at less cost—by his successor.

Churchill succeeded Chamberlain in 1940 and saved the West.

The Obama administration apparently believes that the supreme leader might forsake his historic quest for nuclear weapons begun under the Ayatollah Khomeini and carried forth under Khamenei and every Iranian president. The United States, “the epicenter of evil” has rallied the West against the Islamic Republic.

The idea seems to be that the supreme leader, and his Revolutionary Guards who control the nuclear program, terrorist operations and domestic riot-control aren’t sufficiently committed to developing a nuclear weapon that the persuasive voices of moderation from the Obama administration can seduce them from this dangerous path. Um, they seem to believe that the newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, and foreign minister Mohammad Zarif are forces for moderation. The evidence for this is a nice smile and a lot of fantasy. They believe that Rouhani must be a reformer — he has a PhD from a Scottish university. Ruel Marc Gerecht, who is an expert, spells out the evidence for fantasy. Do read the whole thing.

At the core of Washington’s debate about Iran’s nuclear program is a confluence of naïveté and fear of another war in the Middle East. The latter reinforces the former and bends the analysis of Iran’s internal politics. It makes America’s foreign policy elite, which has never been a particularly God-fearing crowd, even more blind to the role of religion in Iran’s politics. The president himself appears to believe passionately that an irenic American foreign policy insulates the United States from Muslim anger and terrorism.

No one in the Middle East believes that Obama would order a strike. The Washington foreign-policy establishment have conceded the bomb to Iran. They argue for “containment.” The only thing that matters is that we will not bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. Most on the Left do not envision any need for a militarily strong and aggressive America pushing back against Iranian adventurism. Containment is a synonym for  patient, peaceful engagement and American withdrawal. Gerecht summarizes:

President Obama’s eagerness to avoid an unpleasant binary choice—surrender publicly to Tehran’s nuclear fait accompli or preempt militarily—will have led him to a situation where he confronts the same choice, but with Iran’s hand stronger and America’s weaker. Khamenei will have called Obama’s bluff—and will have billions more in his bank account. In all probability, the president has bought into a process of diminishing returns that he cannot abandon for fear of the cruel binary choice. For that matter, he may already have decided that the left-wing of the Democratic party is right.

Well, that’s what we get when the president can’t be bothered to attend his intelligence briefings. Does he worry at all about the new ICBMs being developed by North Korea and Iran?

Dan Bongino, former Secret Service member, now running for Congress in Maryland, has said that the White House staff were like kids with a shiny new toy. No one knew anything about government, and they treated the president like a cult figure — if he said it, it must be true. Nothing could be more dangerous than an ideologically-driven megalomaniac surrounded by obsequious yes-men in the White House.

The Eternal Optimism of the United Nations by The Elephant's Child

The United Nations was the culmination of fuzzy ideas that somehow an organization with the proper administration would let us all get along by talking things over, or something like that. United in our diversity, a bastion of tolerance, no competition, passivity and sufferance. There is always some new idea for unity,  but pretty thoughts don’t overcome basic human nature.

Newly elected members Britain and France will serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council with — Saudi Arabia, one of the worlds most notorious abusers of human rights. No one opposed giving Riyadh the authority to pass judgment on the West’s record of human rights: yet as the delegates were voting, the Saudi religious police were killing and raping Christian migrant workers from Africa and Asia as part of a countrywide crackdown on foreigners.

Reports show that at least 10 Ethiopians have been killed and more than a dozen raped since the Kingdom began its immigrant roundup in early November. Saudi police rounded up Filipino workers, mostly Catholic and threw them in crowded cells where they were “treated like animals.” Police chained their feet together and left them shackled for several days. An estimated 6,700 Filipino workers are being held in Saudi prisons. Saudi Arabia only renounced slavery in 1973, more or less.

Amnesty International found last May that workers were being subjected to slave-like conditions and many had been tortured. A Sri Lankan was found to have had 24 nails and a needle driven into her hands after she complained about her heavy workload.

Non-Muslim migrants with legal permits to work in the Kingdom were denied fundamental rights, including the right to work. This is a hallmark of Saudi religious and racial bigotry. It is hoped, though unlikely, that the Saudi government will decline the invitation to serve on the Human Rights Council, as it recently did its seat on the U.N. Security Council.

But they wonder why we don’t have much respect for the United Nations.

Valerie Jarrett Making Secret Deals With Iran? White House Denial. by The Elephant's Child

The Times of Israel reports that “the Geneva negotiations between the so-called P5+1 powers and Iran are a mere “facade,”because the terms of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated in talks between a top adviser to President Barack Obama and a leading Iranian nuclear official that have continued in secret for more than a year, Israeli television reported Sunday.”

The report, which relied on unnamed senior Israeli officials, said the US team to the secret talks was led by Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Her primary interlocutor, the report said, was the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi. The talks have been taking place in various Gulf states…

According to Channel 10, the secret channel marginalized Kerry, and was overseen by the president. The idea had been for Kerry merely to fly to Geneva, as he did last Friday, to sign a deal in which he had been a bit player. In the event, factors such as the French stance, and Israel’s very public objections, derailed this plan, and the talks broke up last Saturday without an agreement

White House spokesman Bernadette Meehan was quoted by Haaretz as saying that the report was “absolutely, 100 percent false.”

President Obama badly wants Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program in return for easing international economic sanctions — which have been working quite successfully and have brought Iran to the negotiating table. Critics say that Iran could cheat far more easily than the rest of the world could reinstate tough sanctions.

Mr. Obama thinks that relaxing sanctions is reversible. Sanctions and arms agreements have a long history of failure. Democratic countries do not get what they bargained for, and then find themselves unable or unwilling to enforce the bargain.

According to Douglas Feith, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, the democracies are apt to hype the agreement to their voters as a proud diplomatic achievement. Their non-democratic opponents cheat, and Islamic countries are encouraged by the Koran to lie, cheat and dissemble.  The mullahs have been in charge of Iran since the revolution in 1979, when the Shah fled into exile.

It is clear that Israel is deeply worried. Congress is not pleased with attempts at a bargain with Iran. The administration fights any new sanctions. And Russia will help Iran build a second nuclear power plant according to Tehran’s top nuclear official.

I fail to understand why the Obama administration would place any faith in any agreement with Iran, or why they would believe it to be a good deal.  We should know better. Vast crowds screaming “Death to America” would seem to be a hint that perhaps the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons isn’t going to be easily abandoned. The Saudis are deeply concerned, and are working with Israel, which might be another gentle hint that something is amiss for Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry — and Ms. Jarrett as well.

Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran and still has connections there. She is a close adviser to the Obamas, but has no known record as a foreign policy negotiator. Michael Ledeen is better than most at grasping the obvious:

It’s not easy to make a deal with Iran (and even when you think you’ve made one, you might be wrong).  The failure of the Geneva talks is just another in a long series of such failures.  Even the public events are part of the well-established pattern:  the secretary of state jumps on a plane and flies to meet with the Iranians.  But when he gets there, he finds it’s not quite a done deal.  And in the wee hours of the morning two days later, there’s no deal at all.

Inexperience, Misplaced Trust, Utter Foolishness, and Weakness. by The Elephant's Child


General Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said, according to the Fars News Agency, run by the Revolutionary Guards, “America’s interests and all of Israel are within the range of the Islamic Republic and there is not the  slightest doubt among Iran’s armed forces to confront the American government and the Zionists.” He mocked President Obama’s position that the military option remains on the table over Iran’s nuclear development. “If America had the ability and the will for war, it would allow no doubt in attacking Syria. America will soon find out that Iran’s power cannot be ignored.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran will not agree to halt its nuclear enrichment rights under any deal with the West. “The Islamic Republic of Iran makes no deal over its right” Zarif told reporters after daylong negotiations with the West in Geneva over Iran’s state-run nuclear program.

Iranian negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi revealed on Thursday that the West had accepted Tehran’s proposed framework for a nuclear deal. He said that Iran’s enrichment rights are the county’s ‘redline.”

U.S. sources familiar with the talks said that America is prepared to relax sanctions on Iran and work closely with it during a “six month confidence building period,” according to Reuters.

According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the proposed agreement to relax economic sanctions while reigning in only parts of Iran’s nuclear program —was a “sucker’s deal.” It was Mr. Fabius and the French government whose well-deserved skepticism blocked the bargain intensely sought by the Obama administration and the Iranian mullahs. Yet in Geneva even France seems ready to join the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K. and Germany in being ready to grant de facto recognition of the Islamic republic’s “right” to enrich uranium. — because they have already accepted Iran’s spinning centrifuges. The deal-breaker for France was that construction would continue on Iran’s heavy-water reactor, giving Tehran a pathway to a plutonium bomb, and no single piece of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would be dismantled.

What are these people thinking? Right now, Iran is a weak country.We will never again have as much economic leverage over Iran as we do just now. The sanctions have been working and helped to jump-start the presidential campaign of Hasan Rouhani who was elected on promises to court the West and rescue their economy. Whether or not sanctions work depends on the threat of escalation, where restrictions scare off foreign businesses who want Iran’s energy.

New financial sanctions could lock up all of Iran’s currency reserved held abroad, which would effectively collapse Iran’s currency. Iran is intent upon becoming a nuclear power, but after the deplorable American policy in Syria, it is America that seems to be the weak nation with no commitment to it own power.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” discussing negotiations in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program, Nov. 10:

“This is a country that has tens of thousands of people in the street chanting “death to America,” the other day. “This is a country that is participating, as we speak, in a mass slaughter of men, women and children—tens of thousands of them—in Syria.”

It’s not only my concern that this is a bad deal. There are many, many Arab leaders in the region who are saying this is a very bad deal for the region and for the world. And you know, when you have the Arabs and the Israelis speaking in one voice, it doesn’t happen very often, I think it’s worth paying attention.

Obama’s Elusive Hunt For A Really Big Accomplishment by The Elephant's Child

(Iranian President Hasan Rouhani)

It’s a theme I’ve run into many times in novels, the idea that there is a certain point at which many people stop in their growth and openness to new ideas. They do fine for years, but at some point they have received all accepted knowledge, and are no longer open to revision of their worldview. I sort of accepted that as a little weird, but I knew a few people who did seem stuck in the past. The adult who remains the cheerleader she was in college, the man who can’t quite relinquish his football hero days.

Barack Obama was swept up in radical politics at Columbia, if not before. He said in his book that he went to every socialist meeting he could find, and somewhere in there or in his community organizer days he acquired fixed ideas about the country and about the world. Richard Epstein notes that once Obama believes something, it is set in concrete. He does not change his mind.

The president has been certain that the central problem in the Middle East is the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and if that is solved, there will be peace. He has continually been trying to “restart” the “peace process,” without the slightest notion that as long as Palestinians teach their little children that killing Jews is their noblest goal, there is no hope of any peace process.

The foreign policy experts who study Iran are worried about Iranian progress on nuclear weapons, but Obama is sure that his charisma will allow his Secretary of State to make peace with the mullahs in Iran. The collapse of the so-called “Arab Spring” made no dent in his convictions, he has denied the resurgence of al Qaeda, refused to give up on the Muslim Brotherhood, and slashed aid to the Egyptians who threw Morsi out. The Saudis have lost all faith in help or assistance from the Americans in controlling Iran, and are looking for nuclear technology., and turning for help to the Russians.

Obama’s signature accomplishment is turning sour. As James Taranto said “The exposure of Obamacare as a massive consumer fraud —and of Obama as the Bernie Madoff of politics— is well underway.” Obama wants a major triumph, and he wants it badly. Ordinary things like 20,000 jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline don’t measure up. He needs something big to match the presidential ego.

The only world leader who seems to understand what is happening is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is warning that a pact easing sanctions “would be a mistake of historic proportions.” The deal being hatched in Geneva, and apparently we are already easing the sanctions, is precisely an effort to short-circuit Israel’s own options. History is not kind to appeasers.  The New York Sun is not kind to Secretary of State Kerry’s history, character, and role in the current negotiations.

The Times of Israel reports that “the Obama administration plans to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the beginning of 2014. The Americans want to move from coordinating between the two sides to a phase of active intervention.”

According to Gal-on, whose left-wing Meretz party is in the opposition, the plan is based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed land swaps and will cover all of the core issues. …

The scheme is spread out over a gradual timetable, calls for the investment of billions of dollars in the Palestinian economy, and will include a suggestion for a broader regional peace treaty based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The initiative, first proposed by the Arab League in 2002, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians together with normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world. Central to the initiative was the complete withdrawal of Israel to its pre-1967 lines and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The Obama Administration, eagerly seeking a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, is now signaling that it will ease the sanctions that finally forced Tehran to the negotiating table.

In fact, the White House has already chosen to lighten Iran’s sanctions burden by slowing the implementation of existing sanctions and delaying congressional legislation that would impose new sanctions. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported in today’s Daily Beast that the Administration began softening sanctions after the June election of Hassan Rouhani by slowing the pace of designating Iranian front companies, individuals, ships, and aircraft as sanctions violators.

The Administration has also lobbied Congress to postpone any new sanctions to avoid disrupting the current round of negotiations with Iran. But this is a gross misreading of the situation. The prospect of new sanctions would enhance American bargaining leverage with Iran and increase the chances that an acceptable agreement can be negotiated with the recalcitrant regime in Tehran.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is saying that only sanctions and the threat of the use of force on Israel’s part are the only things that brought Iran back to the negotiating table, it’s hard to understand why making it harder for Tehran to sell its oil and conduct business with those willing to risk the ire of the West would scare them away again.  But many Democrats are not willing to ease sanctions.

Most of the articles suggest that this is Kerry’s initiative, but I suspect that Kerry has his marching orders from Obama, and knows what he has to try to bring back to his boss. Any assumption that Rouhani’s charm offensive is meaningful is based on wishful thinking of the West. The time is running short. Be very worried.

Here are some additional links:
How Can We Possibly Trust Obama on Iran? PJ Media
Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early As Friday Wall Street Journal
More Pressure on Iran Can’t Wait Commentary
Exclusive: Obama’s Secret Iran Détente The Daily Beast
More Obama Problems: Kerry’s Peace Push Commentary
Kerry meets Iran foreign minister to close gaps in nuclear talks Reuters

Eddie Haskell — All Grown Up! by The Elephant's Child

Is he always the last to know? Or is it more the Eddie Haskell syndrome?  Kathleen Sebelius has confirmed that President Obama was totally unaware that the initial rollout of ObamaCare was a major catastrophe until it happened. This was the president’s signature project, and clearly no one with the right technology experience was in charge. The company hired to do the work was the only bid, and Canada had fired them earlier for incompetence.

And he didn’t know anything about the NSA tapping the phones and email of German Chancellor Angela Merkel until after an internal review he ordered earlier this year, even though a German weekly reported that Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA chief, briefed Obama on the Merkel wiretaps back in 2010.

Officials said that the president was briefed on and approved of broad intelligence gathering priorities, but those below him made the decisions about specific targets

He is remarkably ignorant of all the scandals that have cropped up in his administration, at least until they make the papers. Then he is just as angry as the rest of us about the slip-up. Remember how angry he said he was about the IRS’ efforts to hold up tax exemption applications from Tea Party groups in the period before the 2012 election, an effort that coincidentally changed the outcome of the election. And nevermind that the IRS inspector general issued a report that documented IRS abuse. Obama said “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this, I think it was on Friday.”

Obama also didn’t know anything about his administration releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants — blaming the sequester cuts. Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary at the time, said even she was surprised to learn about the action.

The ongoing crisis in the Middle East, and now tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have grown sharply in recent months. The president authorized the CIA to provide limited arms to carefully vetted Syrian rebels, but it took months for the program to even begin.

Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient and disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.

The Government Accountability Institute examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Briefing, which seems to be about 43.8 percent of the time. President Bush held meetings six days a week with the Vice President, the Chief of Staff, Homeland Security, the FBI director and other Homeland Security officials.

Now NBC News is reporting that the Obama administration knew in advance that their catastrophic takeover of the health care industry would throw millions of their existing plans. Millions of Americans are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under ObamaCare, say experts, and the Obama administration has know that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act told NB that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year, and that number could reach as high as 80 percent.

I think it’s Eddie Haskell all the way down. But we never saw Eddie Haskell all grown-up. I wold assume that he always has an excuse, nothing is ever his fault, and he’s really irritated about it now that he found out with the rest of us.

No Army Training In The Last Six Months. Preparedness Loses Out To Politics. by The Elephant's Child

General Ray Odierno, Army’s Chief of Staff told a Washington conference on Monday that the U.S. Army had not conducted any training in the last six months of the fiscal year ending September 30.

He added that there are currently only two Army  brigades rated combat-ready. A brigade numbers somewhere around 3,500 to 5,000 troops, commanded by a Colonel. That adds up to around 7,000 to 10,000 troops and less than one-third of what the combat veteran regards as necessary for national security. Odierno said:

Right now, we have in the Army two brigades that are trained. That’s it. Two.

Troops being deployed to Afghanistan now are prepared only to train and assist Afghan troops, not to conduct combat operations themselves, though there is no guarantee that they will not find themselves actually in combat, while accompanying Afghan soldiers.

Sequestration had its origins in the debt-ceiling battle of 2011. The President’s team, in an attempt to force Republicans into a compromise, devised the sequester as a sort of nuclear option. Sweeping cuts across all discretionary spending — including defense spending in a time of war, would be such a bitter pill to the Republicans, that they would fold and stop insisting on cuts in spending. Republicans took in the Obama team offer, and spat it out. The President remains furious.

Harmful automatic budget cuts — known as the sequester — threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.

These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.

You have undoubtedly heard the president bragging about bringing the deficit down.  Depends on who he’s trying to impress. Because the sequester is automatic for nine more years, it can only be changed or undone if both houses vote to change it. It is a powerful tool for Republican negotiators in the budget conference committee, and gives them leverage to address the real driver of the debt — entitlement spending. Left unchanged, the combined unfunded entitlements of Social Security and Medicare threaten to bankrupt the country.

Republicans are trying to save the country. Democrats are trying to win. It’s politics all the way down.

Obama has made an effort to make the cuts forced by the sequester as painful as possible, just as he did with the government shutdown.

All this to obey Obama administration orders to drastically cut the Army and military spending and meet cuts under sequestration. Since the Obama Pentagon began the troop draw-down two years ago under the president’s orders, more than 33,000 active duty soldiers have been cut.

Current plans call for additional reductions of 42,000 soldiers in the next 23 months to a total of 490,000, down from 570,000. Those cuts have been accelerated by two years under Pentagon orders and will involve involuntary separations of thousands.

Military planners, under directives from Defense Secretary Hagel, now anticipate administration orders to sever another 70,000 active duty Army personnel at all levels. There is apparently a purge going on of some of the nation’s top veteran generals, allegedly for personal misconduct.

It is not a peaceful world. Al Qaeda is on the rise, Bashar Assad seems to have control of Syria after gassing dissidents, the Saudis are not friendly. Egypt is no longer under the control of the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and a more friendly Army-backed government has taken over— so we have discontinued aid. Having botched Syria, botched a status of forces agreement in Iraq, Iraq is in flames again with an upsurge of al Qaeda in Iraq. So we are in peaceful conversations with Iran, the sponsor of all Middle East terrorism. Good time as any to cut back on military readiness.

Whenever wars are over, America settles back into heedless slumber, and we are never, never prepared when trouble breaks out again, as it always will.

Obama’s Former Defense Chiefs Criticise, Press Doesn’t Notice. by The Elephant's Child

Two  of Obama’s former Defense Secretaries slammed his Syria policy as “not a strategy” and projecting “weakness.” You would have had to turn to page 12 of Thursday’s Times to find that two of Obama’s former defense secretaries “publicly questioned the administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis, as the newspaper put it.”

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta were appearing at a Tuesday evening forum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Gates mocked the president’s idea of an “incredibly small” attack to punish Syria for supposed chemical use, explaining that “to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple days, to underscore or validate a point or a principle, is not a strategy.”  He added that bombing Syria “would be throwing gasoline on a very complex fire in the Middle East” and said Obama could have weakened America’s world standing by asking and not getting Congress’ permission to strike.

Mr. Panetta who was Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff, and an Obama CIA director, said Obama placed the word of the U.S. government in jeopardy. “When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word,” Panetta said, adding that Obama “should have directed limited action, going after Assad, to make very clear to the world that when we draw a line and we give our word… we back it up.”

Panetta also said that Iran, soon to be nuclear armed, was “paying very close attention” to Obama’s handling of Syria, “and what they are seeing right now is an element of weakness.”

The Obama sycophants in the media were loath to report any of this.

Best Photoshop Ever? by The Elephant's Child


Negotiate With The Enemy, But Not With Congress by The Elephant's Child

Was there a point in Mr. Obama’s life when he decided that his experience was sufficient, that he no longer had to change his opinions or revise his convictions? Or is it that he misconceives the nature of the office of the presidency? Has there ever before been a president who reminds us quite so often that he is President of the United States? The underlying assertion is that he is the most important man in the world, and we really have to stop disagreeing with him.

Dan Henninger, in today’s Wall Street Journal, takes up the same point:

We should admit the obvious: Barack Obama is the most anti-political president the United States has had in the post-war era. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter (even), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. All practiced politics inside the tensions between Congress and the presidency that were designed into the system by the Founding Fathers. Not Barack Obama. He told us he was different. He is. …

Some things remain in his mind, like the economic benefits of public infrastructure spending, which appeared one more time in Monday’s post-Navy Yard speech on the lessons of the financial crisis and Congress’s obligations to agree with him. Some things enter his mind and then depart, like red lines in the Syrian sand.

From where he sits, it is the job of the political world outside to adjust and conform to the course of the president’s mental orbit. Those who won’t adjust are dealt with by the president himself. They are attacked publicly until they are too weak politically to oppose what is on his mind.

In the course of things, the president drew a red line in the sand, then he surprised Washington by announcing that he would seek congressional support for taking action against Assad in Syria.  After meeting with the president the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader, John Boehner and Eric Cantor expressed public support for such action. Public opinion was against it, so the Republican’s support was a big deal.

Then Mr. Obama changed course again, and decided he could negotiate a chemical-arms reduction agreement with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Since Russia has enthusiastically sold weapons of all sorts to Syria, and still has their own stocks of chemical weapons left over from the Cold War, President Putin seemed fairly unlikely as a benign go-between.

ABC’s Johnathan Karl reported that neither Mr. Boehner nor Mr. Cantor got a heads up from the White House on the U-turn toward Russia. Not exactly good political manners or good sense just before heading into negotiations with that speaker on funding the government, extending the debt ceiling, or the future of your pet legacy achievement — ObamaCare.

On Monday, Mr. Obama spoke on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, but the majority of the speech was concerned with ripping into the Republicans in Congress.

“The problem is at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class. I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m still hoping that a light bulb goes off here.”

“The last time the same crew threatened this course of action . . . .” The same crew? As a bonus, we’re getting a post-modern presidential vocabulary. “. . . they’re willing to tank the entire economy.”

“Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points?”

Let me repeat. Vladimir Putin has been selling weapons to Syria and supporting Bashar Assad for some time. Russia has never abandoned, demolished or discarded their own stock of chemical weapons remaining from the Cold War and earlier. He is not really likely to be delivering a chemical-arms reduction treaty, nor could anyone believe it if he did. Obama is being played in a major way on the international stage by President Putin with headlines in the New York Times, demonstrating the weakness of the American foreign policy and American determination.

Nevertheless, Obama will negotiate with Mr. Putin. It’s Congress with whom he refuses to negotiate. He will not stand for any attempt to reduce his spending. He will not stand for any attempt to reduce his spending. Don’t even attempt it. Even those who mistrust him say that he is an accomplished politician. This is not true. Politics is the art of negotiating, trying to bring opposing views to a consensus that both sides can tolerate in an effort to do the right thing for a divided country. For Obama it’s his way or the highway — there are other names for that.

Foreign Policy and Umbrella Men by The Elephant's Child

Once Upon a Time, there was Munich, and Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and proudly proclaiming “Peace in Our Time!” If we don’t learn from history, we’re apt to get in trouble.


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