American Elephants

Here ‘s What Leadership Looks Like, If Anybody’s Interested. by The Elephant's Child

screen shot 2015-02-05 at 12.25.29 pm.pngJordan’s King Abdallah was in Washington when the ISIS video of the immolation of 1st Lt. Mo’az al Kaseasbeh broke onto the airwaves. The King had been asking for some help with the massive waves of refugees who have flooded into his small country from the ongoing Syrian civil war. He borrowed some clear words from Clint Eastwood and vowed to make the “earth shake” against the terrorists who had murdered the 26 year-old pilot.

The king said the terrorists had no claim to the name Muslim — a powerful statement as the King is a direct descendant of Muhammad.The King was educated in England and the United States and with British and U.S. help developed the “shrewdest and most professional intelligence and special operation capability in the Arab world.

The Jordanian Special Operations Command was founded in 1963. Before he became king, Abdallah commanded the Special Operations Command. He also created Jordan’s  Special Operations Training Center, a live-fire training center devoted to special operations and anti-terrorism. Along the way, like his father, he learned to pilot a Cobra attack helicopter. Adam Garfinkle added that “like his father, apparently, he likes to go really fast, make noise, and break things.”

There was a moving expression of compassion for the grieving family and friends of the dead pilot in their village, with the King and Queen Rania offering comfort and promising that their son’s death was not in vain.

So Jordan is taking the war to the terrorists. Two death row terrorists were promptly executed.

As bombing missions took off, with the warning to the terrorists that they were now “meeting the Jordanians for the first time,” half of Jordan’s air force flew over the humble village of the murdered pilot to assure it what the mission was about.

The Jordanians released their own film of ISIS targets being blown away by Jordanian forces, which at last count left 55 terrorists dead on the desert floor, and more to go.

An example of leadership from a small country in the Middle East. not exactly “leading from behind.”

The Feckless U.S. Foreign Policy by The Elephant's Child

“The Jerusalem Post reports that European diplomats say the deal between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is for Tehran to keep about 6,500 centrifuges in return for “guaranteeing regional stability” —using Iranian influence to keep Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in check. International sanctions that  Obama claims have forced Iran to the negotiating table would be lifted.

Iran not only retains the ability to attain atomic weaponry, it gets license from the U.S. to become a power broker in the region—eventually a nuclear-armed actor.”

In his State of the Union speech, Obama devoted just 172 words to the question of Iran. He was attempting to put a pretty face on the entire state of the union, but this was delusional.

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies, including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails—alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. [Applause] The American people expect us only to go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

Iran hasn’t halted anything. Days before the speech Iran announced it would be building two more reactors. They have continued to make progress on the plutonium program and continued enriching. Obama has been returning funds frozen as part of the sanctions program. Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Obama believes that the radical theocracy in Iran that sponsors worldwide terrorism can be talked out of its nuclear aspirations and transform itself into a helpful friend, who will stabilize the mess in Iraq and defeat ISIS, and then the Middle East will cease to be a problem that we have to get mixed up in. He really doesn’t seem to see a nuclear Iran as a particular problem. After all, lots of other nations have nuclear weapons, and nobody is about to use them.

Israel believes that the Obama administration “has already given the Iranians 80% of what they want” in nuclear negotiations.

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken admitted to Congress that the Obama administration’s goal during negotiations with Iran is delaying the regime’s development of nuclear weapons rather than actually shutting down their contested nuclear program.

In his recent interview with Fareed Zakaria which turned largely on Obama’s inability to put “terrorism” and “Islam” in the same sentence, Obama said:

Sure they can do harm, but we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what’s the — you know, what’s the essence of who we are.

That means that we don’t torture, for example, and thereby undermine our values and credibility around the world. It means that we don’t approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing Whack-A-Mole wherever a terrorist group appears because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military.

Ultimately these terrorist organizations will be defeated because they don’t have a vision that appeals to ordinary people. It is — it really is, as has been described in some cases, a death cult, or an entirely backward looking fantasy that can’t function in the world.

For whatever reasons, Barack Obama is living in a fantasy world where all of his speeches are well received, where his strategy always works, where the economy is booming, all of his economic efforts have paid off, and his efforts to make the world a better  place have been triumphant. What more could you possibly want?

America In Retreat by The Elephant's Child

ISIS would not exist, but for President Obama’s overwhelming urge to get completely out of Iraq because he hated George W. Bush and believed that he was elected to “get us out of Iraq,” tossing aside the difficult task of getting a status of forces agreement, the advice of his Secretaries of Defense and the military establishment. To his mind the subsequent failure of the Iraqi army proved that he was correct—not that they needed more training, as he had been warned.

Now he’s doing the same thing in Afghanistan, with the same results. Reportedly, ISIS has joined up with the Taliban to recruit fighters in Afghanistan. The current speculation is that Obama intends to turn over the problems in Iraq to Iran, and if they can clean it up, we’ll let them go ahead with their centrifuges. Obama does not believe in a “smarter” American leadership. He has no strategy at all, and doesn’t know how to lead.

ISIS Purifies Islam Through Fire by The Elephant's Child

jpb The horrendous video was released yesterday by ISIS. To Western eyes it is beyond comprehension. Over at Frontpage Magazine, Dawn Perlmutter, an expert in symbology and why these people do what they do, explains what it’s meaning is to them. Still hard to understand, but the article is helpful, as is the accompanying video in which she discusses Islamic Murder by Ritual Purification.

Despite the surprise and shock of seeing a young man burned alive, this is not a new tactic. In fact it is a common method of ritual murder in Iraq and other countries particularly in honor killings and the murder of Christians. The significant difference is that the Islamic State media films the execution using sophisticated editing and highly choreographed techniques turning the killing into a scripted reality show.

Hundreds of women in the Muslim world have been murdered by fire in honor killings. The murders were often disguised as suicides or accidents. In the first six months of 2007, in Iraqi Kurdistan, 255 women were killed, three-quarters of them by burning. An earlier report cited 366 cases of women who were the victims of so-called fire accidents in Dohuk in 2006, up from 289 the year before….

The article helps to explain some of the polarizing differences between our world and theirs. I can’t say that there is anything there that explains the response of our president or his administration, but I’m impressed with Ms. Perlmutter’s article. I wish it would get wide circulation among the media. But that’s not going to happen either. Not exactly what one would call a religion of peace.

Today’s Must Read Essays. Matters of Strength and Weakness. by The Elephant's Child

Michael Doran, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. He specializes in Middle East security issues. “I Don’t Bluff..”

President Obama has repeatedly promised to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. If there is no other choice, he says, he will resort to force. In a March 2012 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the president famously rejected the alternative policy, namely, allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. He emphasized the point dramatically: “[A]s president of the United States,” he said, “I don’t bluff.”

Really? Suppose this statement was just a show of toughness, timed to keep supporters of Israel on his side during the 2012 campaign season. Suppose that, when it came to Iran, in his heart of hearts, the president actually preferred a strategy of containment to a strategy of prevention. Suppose that was actually his policy aim from the outset—but, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t say so. How would he proceed?

He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding—trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.
Read the whole thing:

Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “What are the Metaphysics of Islamic Denial?”

After six years, it is no surprise that the Obama administration does not see the Taliban as “terrorists” or that it will not associate “violent extremism” with radical Islam or just Islam.

After all, when Maj. Hasan murdered U.S. soldiers it was nothing more than “workplace violence,” as if he were a disgruntled post office employee of the 1970s. Our two top intelligence chiefs assured us that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular” and that jihad “was a legitimate tenet of Islam.” Add in “workplace violence” and the old “overseas contingency operations.” Do we remember that Ms. Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security warned us about right-wing returning veterans as the most likely to terrorize us? When someone blows up people at the Boston Marathon, beheads a woman in Oklahoma, or puts a hatchet in a NYPD officer’s head, he is not a terrorist or proselytizer fueled by Islamic hatred of non-Muslims as much as mentally confused. (I suppose in a way that a Hitler or Stalin was not.)      Read the whole thing:

Again, Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution: “Obama Does Have a Strategy

The Wise People of American foreign policy — Madeleine Albright, General Jack Keane, Henry Kissinger, General James Mattis, George Shultz, and others — recently testified before Congress. Their candid and insightful collective message dovetailed with the worries of many former Obama-administration officials, such as one-time defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as well as a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Their consensus is that the U.S. is drifting, and with it the world at large: The Obama administration has not formulated a consistent strategy to cope with the advance of second-generation Islamic terrorism. It is confused by the state upheavals in the Middle East. It is surprised by the aggression of Putin’s Russia and the ascendance of an autocratic China. Our allies in Europe, much of democratic Asia, and Israel all worry that the U.S. is rudderless, as it slashes its military budget and withdraws from prior commitments.

While I think the symptomology of an ailing, herky-jerky United States is correct, the cause of such malaise is left unspoken. The Obama team — with its foreign policy formulated by President Obama himself, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry — is not in fact befuddled by the existing world. Instead, it is intent on changing it into something quite different from what it is.

So far from being chaotic, current U.S. foreign policy is consistent, logical, and based on four pillars of belief.
Read the Whole Thing

Why Is It So Hard To Take Terrorism Seriously? by The Elephant's Child

Today we have been confronted with another video from ISIS. In a professionally shot and edited video posted on the internet. ISIS  showed the execution of captive Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh who has been held since his F-16 fighter jet went down near ISIS’ conquered capital of Raqqa in December. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh was shown walking to the cage in which he was imprisoned and burned alive.

President Obama said:

And I think we will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated. It also indicates the degree to which whatever ideology they are operating off of, it’s bankrupt. We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better.

Jordan, on the other hand, promised an  “earth-shaking” response. An official said the authorities would swiftly execute several militants held in Jordan in retaliation, including an Iraqi woman whom Amman had sought to swap for the pilot taken captive after his plane crashed in Syria.

It is believed that the execution actually took place about a month ago.

These videos are meant as terror, but also, apparently, as recruiting films. Come join us and you get to be a savage out of the Seventh Century? The adventure of a lifetime? Max Boot suggested that perhaps the effectiveness of on-camera beheadings was beginning to wane.

They are addressing a Western world where California has just raised the cost and availability of eggs, because they are afraid the chickens might be offended by being in cages that are too small.

Obama dithers, and refuses to link “violent extremism” with radical Islam, or even Islam.

Here We Go Again! Obama Attempts A Vast Landgrab: 12 Million Acres Of Alaska. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration will propose setting aside more than twelve million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, including 1.5 million miles of coastal plain, and a chunk of the Arctic Ocean, the White House announced today. Dumb idea. We have been all through this before.

The wildlife of ANWR are currently protected, and flourishing. The polar bears are just fine. The administration will undoubtedly have endless videos featuring the beauty of the land and the extensive wildlife with sob-stories about the need to protect them from — the ravages of anyone that might want to drill for oil in the coastal plain. That is what this is all about — another attempt to prevent anyone from successfully drilling for petroleum.

The goal of the greenest of the greens has always been to make most of America into ‘wilderness,’ and force the population into dense cities, with narrow links between cities. Presumably high speed rail.

The federal government does few things well, and most things very badly. There are some things that only a federal government can do, like a military, and they do that poorly too. The federal government is not a  good steward of the public lands.

When drilling was allowed on the North Slope, the claims of the damage that would be done to the land and to the wildlife, to ‘critical habitat,’ to the migrating birds went on and on. Turned out the footprint of the drilling operation was quite small, and the wildlife loved the pipeline which provided warmth, shelter, and the occasional scratching post.

Naturally, President Obama is attempting to do this  by executive order. He says his “Department of the Interior has put forward a comprehensive plan to make sure we’re protecting the refuge, and that we’re designating new areas, including coastal plains, for preservation,” he said from his seat aboard Air Force One.

He also wants to block off a good chunk of the Arctic Ocean from drilling. Which clears up any mystery about why he is announcing this right now. He’s attempting to boost the price of oil as a present for the Saudis, hoping  to rescue his relationship with the desert kingdom.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge “faces growing challenges that require a thoughtful and comprehensive management strategy” in a statement today. “The incorporation of large portions of the refuge into the National Wilderness Preservation System will ensure we protect this outstanding landscape and its inhabitants for our children and generations that follow.” Now there is a carefully worded statement that says nothing— nothing at all. Changing a designation to “wilderness” does not “ensure” anything, not the survival of wildlife nor the preservation of anything at all.

Preventing Americans from using out own natural resources will not enable us to rely instead on wind and/or solar — which are not free, and cannot even work at all without full time backup from conventional power sources — no matter how much taxpayer money is handed off to Obama’s cronies. A modern industrial society depends on plentiful  low cost energy, something Obama doesn’t seem to understand at all.


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