American Elephants

The More Things Change, The More they Stay the Same by The Elephant's Child
September 19, 2015, 6:54 am
Filed under: Africa, Europe, History, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , ,


plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

In the early years of the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad began his mission in Arabia, the whole of the Mediterranean world was still part of Christendom. On the European, Asian and African shores alike, almost all the inhabitants were Christians of various denomination. Of the other religions of the Greco-Roman world, only two, Judaism and Manichaeism, had survived and were professed by minorities in these lands. In the eastern Mediterranean, the East Roman Empire, known to scholarship as the Byzantine Empire, continued to flourish and with Constantinople as its capital ruled over Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and part of North Africa as well as Asia Minor and southeastern Europe. In the western Mediterranean, the Roman state had fallen, but the barbarian peoples, and the kingdoms they raised on the ruins of Rome, had adopted the Christian religion and tried with intermittent success to maintain at least the forms of the Roman state and the Christian church. Nor was the realm of Christendom limited to the Mediterranean lands. Beyond the eastern border of Byzantium, Mesopotamia, the metropolitan and western-most province of the Persian Empire, was by the early seventh century predominately Christian and thus part of the Christian though not the Roman world. Even in Arabia, beyond the imperial frontiers of both Rome and Persia. Christian and Jewish minorities lived among the pagan majority.

Within a few decades of the death of Muhammad in 632, his Arab followers had burst out of the Arabia Peninsula, attacked Byzantium and Persia, the two great empires that had divided the Middle East between them, and wrested vast territories from both. The Empire of Persia was conquered and absorbed in its entirety. From the Roman world the Arabs took Syria  Palestine, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Spain and the Mediterranean islands, notably Sicily. Defeating both the Byzantine and the barbarian armies, they were able to incorporate these countries in the new Islamic Empire and to threaten Christendom from both ends. In the east, Arab armies from Syria and Iraq pressing against Anatolia, then a Greek and Christian land and the heartland of the Byzantine Empire, while other Arab and  Berber armies in the west swept from conquered Spain across the Pyrenees and threatened to engulf all of Western Europe. For a while, Muslim armies occupied Sicily, parts of southern Italy, and seemed to menace even Rome itself.

The opening paragraphs from The Muslim Discovery of Europe by Bernard Lewis, New York, 1982  Highly recommended.

Senator Tom Cotton on the Iran Deal by The Elephant's Child


Senator Tom Cotton (R–Ark) after Senate Democrats on Thursday used a filibuster to block a vote on a resolution disapproving of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran:

Political fealty to President Obama’s hoped-for legacy in foreign affairs means this dangerous deal will likely move forward, despite the overwhelming and bipartisan opposition to it in Congress and the clear will of the American people. Obstruction on the part of a minority of legislators is not the foundation on which lasting, consequential arms control agreements are built. A majority of Americans oppose the Iran deal because it compromises the safety and security of not only the United States, but also of the rest of the world.

History will remember this stunning display of partisan loyalty and willful blindness. And it will remember this Senate as the one that—when given the chance to stop the world’s worst sponsor of terrorism from obtaining the world’s worst weapons—blinked when confronted with that evil.

A Quinnipak poll found only 25% support for the Iran Deal. A Pew poll found 21% approval.

Iran, Expecting a Cash Windfall is Already Spurring Attacks on Israel. by The Elephant's Child

An unsettling surge in terrorism by Iranian proxies has many Israelis convinced the release to Tehran of tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds is already putting the Jewish state in danger.

In recent days, rockets have rained down on Israel from Gaza in the south and the Golan Heights to the north, Israeli forces foiled a bomb plot at the tomb of biblical patriarch Joseph, and Gaza-based terrorist groups that also have a presence in the West Bank have openly appealed for aid on Iranian television. Israeli officials fear the terrorist activity is spiking as groups audition for funding from Tehran, which is set to receive the long-frozen funds as part of its deal to allow limited nuclear inspections. They say the international focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has left its more conventional methods of attacking regional adversaries unaddressed.

“The nuclear context is just one aspect of the negative Iranian activities in the region,” Emmanuel Nahshon, senior Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, told “We can see the demonstration of this on a daily basis in Syria, in Yemen, and in Iraq. We see it also when we see the [Iranian] support of Hezbollah and other groups who operate against Israel.”

Susan Rice, National Security Adviser, admitted last month that some of the money to be released as part of the Iran Deal negotiated by the team headed by Secretary of State John Kerry would go to the Iranian military and could be used for the kind of “bad behavior” that we have seen in the region.

Aside from the release of sanctioned funds, the P5+1 countries are rushing to get trade missions into Tehran, envisioning a horde of major international business.

Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are eager to continue as Iranian proxies, Four rockets were fired into Israel last wee,, from Syria, two into the Golan Heights and two into the Upper Galilee, the first since the start of Syria’s civil war four years ago. There’s a new 2.5 mile tunnel from Gaza into Israel by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Israel thwarted an lethal bomb attack by Islamic Jihad on visitors to Joseph’s tomb in the West Bank.

Dick Cheney Speaks on the Iran Nuclear Deal by The Elephant's Child

Former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at an event at AEI on September 8, a passionate speech about the nuclear deal with Iran and why it is a complete catastrophe. It’s a long speech, but worth every minute. Mr. Cheney explains clearly why it is such a very, very bad deal.

As for me, I was convinced that we were doomed when I learned that President Obama believes that Iran would never actually use a nuclear weapon. If he actually believes that, no wonder he has been such a complete doormat.

He believes that he can turn the problems of the Middle East over to Iran to solve, and get America out of the region entirely. Iran’s quest for intercontinental ballistic missiles does not concern Mr. Obama who envisions himself making a triumphant trip to Tehran to shake the Supreme Leader’s hand.

The Supreme Leader may not be able to bring himself to sign the deal at all, since he hates Americans so much.  Shake hands?  Not a chance.

The speech is about 35 minute long, followed by a question and answer period.

Nothing is What it Seems to Be, All is Illusion. Crying Out for Reality. by The Elephant's Child

The story behind the dead small child, as so much from the Middle East, is not what it seems. I don’t know that it matters. The picture has served its purpose, as did the photo of the naked little girl running from napalm down a road in Vietnam. Iconic.

The hordes of Syrian refugees also seem to be other than were presumed. The Associated Press reports discarded documents from Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh. They claim to be escaping the horrors of the Syrian civil war, but they don’t have documents, or they have new Syrian documents and they claim their birthdays are all January 1st. Trafficking in fake Syrian passports has increased. Are they really refugees or simply fleeing poverty and looking for a better life, on the European welfare state. If it is only that, their asylum will be rejected, which is why so many are discarding their real identity cards.

Discontented people often pick up and move. Americans are perhaps more sympathetic than most because that is part of our national heritage. We are a nation of people who have picked up and moved here, as the “native” Americans came from Siberia, and some from Spain and England, and all the rest.

Since we have always been more aware than others of our origins, we have made becoming an American a more formal and final undertaking than most other nations do. You  apply for a visa, and wait an in terminally long time, and eventually you are allowed to take citizenship classes and learn how to become an American. Oddly enough, part of the citizenship oath was promising to serve your new nation in the military, if called upon. Obama has used an executive order to remove that part of the oath. Once you become a citizen — that’s it. You are as much American as those whose ancestors arrived in the Winthrop fleet.

But that didn’t end it. We moved across the Appalachians and then on west, up the wide Missouri and on across the Rockies.  The Okies fled the Dust Bowl and went to California. Now Californians are fleeing high taxes and overregulation and heading back the other way.

What is clear is that Europe’s attempt to become something other than a continent of quarreling nations by creating a European constitution of sorts and a central European government isn’t working out. Countries have identities and histories and languages. Those that have had distinctly separate identities have split apart in acts of what you might call tribalism. Czechoslovakia is not a single country anymore. The map of Europe has constantly shifted through the ages. Aside from conquest, we seem to be tribal peoples. We like to be with our own kind, however we define that.

Yet that is a human characteristic that the Left is trying mightily to strike out. “Diversity” has become a major aim. Colleges and universities have diversity departments, and directives. Corporations have diversity officers in their human resource departments. Unfortunately they are diversifying color, ethnic origin, gender and sexual orientation by the numbers. Any group of people is scanned for visible diversity and urged to correct improper numbers, yet that really isn’t the kind of diversity that is important.

The Obama administration, having screwed up everything else they have attempted, now believe that if they can just put enough poor people into rich neighborhoods, then the poor will learn how not to be poor by sharing the same schools and retail establishments  as their wealthier neighbors.  They are sure that once everybody is equal…

And they never, never learn.

Migrants Desperately Seeking Asylum in a Europe That Is Unprepared to Cope by The Elephant's Child

Europe in enduring a massive flow of migrants, fleeing in terror from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, North Africa, Egypt and Libya, from the Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East to Turkey, the Greek Islands, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary Austria and Germany. They are coming by the thousands, and it is not clear why the sudden exodus. Europe is unprepared. Their economies are not healthy, there is unemployment, yet heartbreaking images such as this strike at the core of compassion in the West.

Certainly many are fleeing ISIS —the terrorist Islamic State — who have made it clear that anyone in their sway who does not pledge allegiance to their cause is in mortal peril. The barbarity of their executions is meant to strike terror in the minds of those who see it.  Look what we do to these people, and what will we do to you? That is the meaning of terrorism, and the purpose.

On the other hand, the preponderance of migrants seem to be young men. Fewer women, no old people; ISIS claims, supposedly, that 4,000 ISIS fighters are among the migrants.The migrants seem to be aiming for those countries with the most elaborate welfare systems. But mostly young men.

The EU has been living in a dreamworld of sorts — formerly warring nations now in agreement on perpetual peace and open borders, one big happy continent. Except that has always been so in the halls of the Union, but not so much in reality. Countries had identities and languages and histories precisely because they shared those particular things. Tribalism is not so far distant. It is, perhaps, the nature of man, and not so easily made over into something else. There has been a lot of pretense there.

The free world has been shaken by the heartbreaking image of a very small Syrian boy, drowned, washed up on a Turkish beach. We are mostly protected from unpleasant sights. Our media is sure that we are not up to facing reality. The horrors that ISIS has dreamed up for mass distribution are blurred or digitized out of recognition. Sorry, you barbarians, your horrors don’t frighten us because we’re not allowed to see them. I suspect that this is a mistake, and it’s better to face reality.

Pictures, however, are often more influential that words. As European nations struggle to decide what they will do about the influx of migrants, that little boy will be there to remind all of empathy and compassion. Some 800,000 newcomers are expected in Germany — about 1% of their population. Even Germany doesn’t have robust economic growth and will have trouble absorbing so many.

Denmark is announcing that they can’t admit any. The Hungarians are building fences. There is talk of using military power to establish safe zones in Syria to contain the exodus. The borders and the fences will return. Europe’s openness has rested on America’s strength. As Bret Stephens says, you can’t have one without the other.

If you are offended by the image, I’m sorry, but I believe our media err in their attempt to “protect” us. It’s not “protective” but just another political lie.

The American People Oppose This Deal By a 2-1 Margin. by The Elephant's Child

KerryYesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Iran nuclear agreement as “comprehensive, verifiable, effective and of lasting duration.” He dismissed criticisms of the deal as “myths” that must be dispelled, and said the deal would rein in Iran more than sanctions alone could.

Uh huh, and I have a lovely riverfront lot on the Animas River that I’m selling at a real bargain price. We were just reaching the point where sanctions would really start to pinch. Iranian oil, and they have a lot of it, has a break-even price of $151 a barrel, and Brent crude is $51. That puts a lot of pressure on their economy, or it would if we weren’t removing all the sanctions in return for nothing at all.

The people of Israel will be safer with this deal, and the same is true for the people throughout the region. … [H]istory may judge [the Iran agreement] a turning point, a moment when the builders of stability seized the initiative from the destroyers of hope, and when we were able to show, as have generations before us, that when we demand the best from ourselves and insist that others adhere to a similar high standard – when we do that, we have immense power to shape a safer and a more humane world. That’s what this is about and that’s what I hope we will do in the days ahead.

What kind of thinking could possibly allow such a man to make such a statement in defense of anything. Iranians shout “Death to Israel” because their primary intent is to end the nation of Israel. Maps of the Middle East have only a blank spot where Israel is. Iran is the sponsor and funder of Hezbollah, of Hamas, of Lebanon’s Islamic Jihad. The Jordanians and the Saudis know that this is nonsense. The American people oppose the deal by a two to one margin, and two-thirds of the Senate oppose the deal.Obama is doing victory laps because he has won the support of one third of one house of Congress

Kerry repeated the administration’s line that the deal forces Iran to abandon its plans for a nuclear weapon for that time. “It just doesn’t make sense to vote no now for what might happen in 15 years,” Kerry said, arguing that Iran will continue on its path to the bomb if a deal is not reached. What makes him think we have 15 years?

Kerry said earlier that the sanctions on Qassem Solemani, commander of the Quds Force division of the IRGC “will stay forever” as Mr. Solemani was jetting off to Moscow to chat with Vladimir Putin, (he is forbidden to travel) probably to buy some longer range missiles, or perhaps a nuke or two. The IRGC is planning a “massive ballistic missile test” in the near future we have been warned.

The White House has apparently twisted enough arms to get the support of their 34th Democratic senator, which means Republicans cannot override a veto.  This legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, trusts the regime to self inspect. Without a deal, Iran could produce a bomb in two months, but Kerry thinks the deal will slow that process to a year.Why would they abide by the arms embargo?

Depends on whether they want to hit us before a new president is elected, or wait till after. The idea that sanctions could be re-imposed is nonsense. Our European allies are already sending trade missions to Tehran.  There is some doubt if the Iranians will sign the deal. Their hatred for America is such that they don’t want to have any ‘agreement’ with us at all.

This one belongs to Obama and the Democrats. They own this one.


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