American Elephants


The Trump-Putin Meeting Is the Most Important Summit Since World War II by The Elephant's Child

This is turning out to be a very interesting day, as we digest the news from Poland and the Hamburg G20 meeting.

Stephen F. Cohen PhD is an American scholar and emeritus professor of Russian studies at Princeton and New York University. He is 78, an unabashed liberal, a contributing editor to the far left The Nation where his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor. Dr Cohen appeared on the Tucker Carlson show:

Tucker Carlson: Professor, the first thing you notice is just how much the press is rooting for this meeting between our president and the Russian president to fail. Why would they want it to fail?

Stephen Cohen: It’s a kind of pornography. Just as there is no love in pornography, there is no national interest in this bashing of Trump and Putin. As a historian, let me tell you the headline I would write instead, about what we witnessed today in Hamburg. “Potentially New Historic Detente Anti-Cold War Partnership Begun by Trump and Putin but Meanwhile Attempts to Sabotage It Escalate.”

You said I was an expert. I actually do have one expertise. I’ve seen a lot of summits, as we call meetings between American and Russian presidents. I was present at some, and even participated in the first George Bush’s summit preparation. When he met with Gorbachev, he invited me to Camp David to debate before his team.

In that context, I think what we saw today was potentially the most fateful meeting between an American and Russian president since the war time [WW II]. The reason is, is that the relationship with Russia is so dangerous and yet we have a president who might have been crippled or cowed by these Russiagate attacks on him, and yet he was not. He was, I think, politically courageous. It went well. They did important things. And this will be astonishing to be said, I know, but I think maybe today we witnessed President Trump emerging as an American statesman. I think it was a very good day for everybody.

Do read the whole thing. Just as most of the left is demonstrating just how far gone they are in political insanity, an informed voice of reason emerges. How welcome an actual conversation is, and how troubling the excess of the left that has left Steve Scalise back in intensive care.



As We Celebrate Independence Day, Give Some Thought to Those Who are Fighting on Our Behalf by The Elephant's Child

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al Abadi said that ISIS is close to defeat in Mosul and close to being driven out of Iraq, after Iraq’s military seized a mosque in the city were the extremist group’s leader first proclaimed a caliphate. Col. Ryan Dillon, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S. led coalition said that the fighting should be over in a matter of days, and then it would take time to clear the area of Islamic State holdouts. Progress has been steady, but there is still tough fighting ahead.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters that the flow of foreign fighters to the Islamic State that had peaked at about 1,500 volunteers per month has declined to fewer than 100.

More than 60 countries have been contributing to an INTERPOL database information about citizens known to have fought for ISIS. McGurk said the list is up to 14,000 names “and continues to grow.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the U.S. is going to focus on killing remaining foreign fighters in the Islamic State. “Because the foreign fighters are the strategic threat should they return home to Tunis, to Kuala Lumpur, to Paris, to Detroit, wherever. Those foreign fighters are a threat,” he said. “So by taking the time to deconflict, to surround and then attack, we carry out the annihilation campaign so we don’t simply transplant this problem from one location to another.”

More can be found here.

As we turn our attention to the Fourth of July and fireworks, picnics and barbecues, we do need to remember that some Americans under arms are still fighting to free us from ISIS and it’s terrorism.



A Lesson in Pure Partisanship by The Elephant's Child

More jottings from my notebook:

No date, but the conversation makes the time element fairly clear. This is Chris Matthews at MSNBC explaining partisanship to the uninitiated.

Before I get started today I want to express how grateful I am for the awe-inspiring leadership of my president. Syria is a bloodbath, Iraq is in the hands of terrorists, Israel is on the verge of war with the Palestinians, and Russian troops are in Ukraine.  On top of that we’ve got the Benghazi, IRS, NSA, and VA scandals and our Southern border is rife with diseased children, gang members and Middle Eastern terrorists donning sombreros. All these problems that were created by the Bush administration would have crippled the most stoic of leaders. Yet, last night I saw a news video of President Obama laughing and enjoying himself in Denver as he ate Pizza, drank beer and played billiards. Our president is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but you’d never know it by looking at him. Today he’s headed to the golf course before attending three different fundraisers. Tomorrow he’s shooting a game of hoops with LeBron James and Barbara Streisand before hosting a $45,000 a seat fundraiser at Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton. Calm, cool and self-assured folks. Those are the characteristics of a leader.

You can probably guess why I copied this down. It was hard writing because I couldn’t stop giggling. It’s all so innocent.



Where Are the Moderate Muslims? by The Elephant's Child

The Script:

After every new Jihadist attack against the West, politicians reassure us that the atrocity does not represent the true nature of mainstream Islam. Of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, they constantly reassure us, the overwhelming majority are as law abiding as any members of any other monotheistic faith. Only a tiny fraction engage in terror. And Islam is a religion of peace. Furthermore, we are told, the great majority of Muslims hold moderate views.

But what does that mean? How moderate are moderate Muslims? Given the threat of radical Islam, it would seem to be a fair question. Let me start to answer it by telling you something of my own story.

I was raised in a middle class Muslim home in Cairo, Egypt. Growing up, I was told, among many other things, the following: That every day that passes on the Islamic nation without a caliphate is a sin. That the failures and miseries of the Muslim world started the moment we Muslims gave up conquests and wars against the infidels. That our prosperity depended on conquering new lands and converting new believers. That anyone who leaves the faith must die. And I also remember how my teachers and my mosque imams reacted to the news of 9/11 when it happened: joy.

My experience was typical, and there is data to prove it: According to the Pew Research Center, 88% of Muslims in Egypt, 62% in Pakistan, 86% in Jordan and 51% in Nigeria believe that any Muslim who chooses to leave Islam should be put to death. Similar, if not identical, numbers are in favor of stoning people who commit adultery, severely punishing those who criticize Muhammad or Islam, and chopping off hands for theft.

All of these practices are a part of the penal code of Islamic law, which is known as Sharia. And 84% of Muslims in South Asia, 77% in Southeast Asia, 74% in the Middle East and North Africa and 64% in Sub-Saharan Africa support Sharia as the law of the land. Less drastic, yet significant, percentages are to be found even among Muslim communities in the West.

So, too, most of the world’s Muslims believe that any acts of violence against Israel, including suicide bombers in buses and restaurants, are justified. Now, does any of this sound moderate to you? Yet if anyone raises these inconvenient truths here in the West, he is sure to be called an Islamophobe, a hater of Islam. Again, my own story is instructive.

In February of 2015, I was yelled at, cursed at, and successfully prevented from speaking at Swarthmore College by students and others who did not agree to what I was saying. Some of them were Muslim women who fit the image of the unveiled, perfect English-speaking, moderate Muslim young woman. Other seeming “moderates” tried and failed to do the same during my speech at Temple University the next day. Some of them, sadly, were students of journalism.

                                  ___________________

For the complete script, visit https://www.prageru.com/courses/polit…

These videos from Prager University are, I believe, invaluable. Short lessons that give you some food for thought, but take up only a few minutes of your time. Hopefully, the information is more likely to stick. This young man makes clear that the idea of “Islamophobia” and the idea that Sharia law is or should be protected by our First Amendment’s freedom of religion, are completely and dangerously false. Islam is badly in need of a Reformation.



Clear Language Matters. Make Fine Distinctions, Insist on Free Speech and Clear Speech. by The Elephant's Child

The situation in Syria was not only an affront to international law, but a probe of sorts to test the new president of the United States. President Trump’s response was prompt and direct, but careful. It was not, as the Democrats try to claim, the start of a war, or a sign of the belligerence of an out-of-control administration. It was a very specific and limited missile strike against the specific airbase that had launched the Sarin Gas attack on Syrian rebels by their own administration. Because it was directed  so specifically, it announced that poison gas attacks were simply not acceptable, and this strike was a clear warning that we are a powerful nation and we are capable of much more. There will be no more statements of “red lines” that are not observed.

America means business. It was not, as has been claimed, an attack on Assad. The Russians and Syrians were warned, so there would be little or no loss of life. These distinctions are important. The free world approved.

Democrats are not good at distinctions. They are more comfortable with generalities. Hillary was interviewed by the New York Times Nicholas Kristof at the “Women in the World” summit. Kristof asked Hillary:

I have to ask fundamentally, a man who bragged about sexual assault won the election and won 53 percent of the white women’s vote. What does that say about the challenges that one faces in women’s empowerment, that in effect misogyny won with a lot of women voters?

In the first place, Trump did not brag about sexual assault. He spoke of women and celebrity and said that when you are a celebrity, some women will let you do anything you want to them.  He did not say that he had done anything.

Hillary immediately blamed everything on identity politics: misogynyshe lost because she is a woman. The country is just not ready for  the first woman president. Fine distinctions: Hillary ran for the presidency because she wanted to be the first woman president, not because there were things she wanted to do to improve the country or help Americans. That’s why her brief career in the Senate was marked only by a bill to name a post office, and her career as Secretary of State resulted only in Benghazi and a record amount of air travel miles. There were no accomplishments. The change was her gender. She promised to continue all the accomplishments of the Obama administration but to do it as a woman.

Nikki Haley, a woman, has made a real difference in her brief time as Ambassador to the United Nations. People are already suggesting that she can be the first woman president. She has demonstrated over and over competence, authority, determination, and things have shifted because of it.

In this strange new universe, a real-estate developer and reality-TV celebrity with no political experience whatsoever, obviously won the election because he is a man. Identity politics is the controlling theme. You can be decide your identity and your gender by your feelings of the moment, which, making fine distinctions — is clearly nuts.

The Left, in their drive for ever more control, believe that when they achieve full control,  they will fix human nature, so we are all more complacent and cooperative. Unfortunately human nature is immutable, unchanging and quite definitely unfixable.

Insist on fine distinctions. Don’t let them get away with sloppy thinking. Insist on free speech. Hold college and university authorities to task for allowing bad behavior to destroy the educational process. Speak out.

Surely you have noticed that what the Left advocates are abstractions. Social justice —there is no such thing. We have laws and courts, and they don’t do social justice. Equality —you can have equality under the law, but you can’t make people equal, some are smarter, some are more beautiful, some are stronger, some are older. Diversity—to the Left refers only to skin color, certainly not to diversity of ideas. Our values —one of Obama’s favorites, “that’s not who we are as Americans.”



An Inherited Catastrophe, A Quick Response by The Elephant's Child

Bashar Assad’s Sarin attack on the Ghowa agricultural region just outside Damascus, which has been held by rebels, was also an attack on International Law. The attacks came in early morning hours when many were still asleep. Initial estimates of the numbers of dead range upwards of 1,400, including way too many children.

Headlines in the media ranged from an irresponsible “TRUMP DECLARES WAR,” to less bellicose statements, but few recognized the very limited nature of the act. It would have been more accurately described as a direct response on the specific Syrian airfield from which the Sarin gas attacks were launched, to put that airfield out of business— and prevent further attacks. It was a correct and immediate response.

President Trump has received wide support from world leaders.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande in a joint statement said “President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development. His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the action was an “appropriate response.” Israel, Australia, Japan, Italy all expressed their support for American action and condemned the use of chemical weapons. Even Erdogan’s Turkey expressed support. The use of chemical weapons is an international war crime.

Russia predictably denounced the strike as an “act of aggression against a UN member,” and said they would demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting. Iran also condemned the US strike.

Hollywood celebrities chimed in with commentary on Twitter in about the manner you would expect. Perhaps someday they will learn that their commentary is not valued for its international expertise, but for the humor.

Barack Obama drew a Red Line in Syria, then failed to follow through and  essentially told the world that they could act with impunity, and America would do nothing. Always a mistake. Russia moved in as a military patron and Iran has become Assad’s protector on the ground with arms supplies and Hezbollah.

The next step should be to establish safe zones in Syria, with protection from possible attacks. The Wall Street Journal said:

Every military operation carries risks but this one could also have major political and strategic benefits if Mr. Trump follows the air strike with some forceful diplomacy. The demonstration of renewed U.S. purpose in the region could have an electrifying impact across the Middle East. The Saudis, the Gulf Sunni states and Turkey would begin to rethink their accommodation to the Russia-Assad-Iran axis of dominance that none of them wants.

Mr. Trump also needs to make Russia and Iran begin to pay a price for their support for Mr. Assad’s depredations. They have had no incentive to negotiate an end to the civil war because they see themselves on the road to a relatively cost-free victory. That calculus may change if it looks like the costs of intervening are rising and Mr. Assad is no longer a sure winner.

The Journal added:

The larger point for Mr. Trump to recognize is that he is being tested. The world—friend and foe—is watching to see how he responds to Mr. Assad’s war crime. His quick air strike on the evening he was having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping makes clear that the Obama era is over. If he now follows with action to protect Syrian civilians and construct an anti-Assad coalition, he may find that new strategic possibilities open up to enhance U.S. interests and make the Middle East more stable.

ADDENDUM: The missile strikes were delivered while President Trump was having dinner at Mar -a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Presumably the Chinese President took notice, as did the rest of the world. A bit of a wake-up call. New administration in town.



How to Think About Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. by The Elephant's Child

In Imprimus, the free monthly publication of Hillsdale College, always interesting, Christopher Caldwell, senior editor at The Weekly Standard, takes on “How to Think About Vladimir Putin.” He stresses that he is not telling anyone what to think about the Russian President, but only how to think about him. In a period when the Democrats are just sure that Putin intervened in the election to defeat Hillary Clinton with the cooperation of Donald Trump, this is what fuels the fury. If Hitler were conveniently still alive they would be sure he was trying to defeat Hillary too. But I found this piece fascinating, and a corrective I needed.

Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia—a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

By American standards, Putin’s respect for the democratic process has been fitful at best. He has cracked down on peaceful demonstrations. Political opponents have been arrested and jailed throughout his rule. Some have even been murdered—Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading Chechnya correspondent shot in her apartment building in Moscow in 2006; Alexander Litvinenko, the spy poisoned with polonium-210 in London months later; the activist Boris Nemtsov, shot on a bridge in Moscow in early 2015. While the evidence connecting Putin’s own circle to the killings is circumstantial, it merits scrutiny. …

When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that. In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he rescued a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.

Here’s the whole article, do read the whole thing, you’ll be glad you did. And you might consider subscribing to Imprimus. It’s free and informative.




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