American Elephants


A Curious And Appalling Agreement to Keep Talking by The Elephant's Child

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With many of the policies our president announces, you know it’s not going to work and I know it’s not going to work, so why is he doing it? I’m certainly not a psychoanalyst, and you probably aren’t either. Congressmen are quick to oppose something and say why, but the White House itself is very close-mouthed. I pay a lot of attention to Richard Epstein’s comments, because I’m a great admirer of Mr. Epstein, and I think he’s an unusually careful observer. (If you haven’t watched the video, it’s helpful if you are curious. Short segment at 20:36).

With all the news about the Iraq nuclear talks, it’s pretty clear that Sec. Kerry and Sec. Moniz have their marching orders. Obama wants a deal. So far the tentative agreement seems to be just what we laughed at for its absurdity. It’s an agreement to keep talking for a few more months, with some very disturbing guidelines. Neither side agrees to what the other said they agreed to.

“Negotiators have a tentative agreement on the rough outline of a possible public statement on the progress they have made so far that would also highlight areas of disagreement, diplomats close to the talks said.”

What I believe would be an acceptable deal bears no relationship to what Obama has in mind, and what he has in mind is frightening in its possible outcome. The questions multiply. (Epstein: He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind.) But Obama said the Iranians want to be part of the community of nations, or something like that. Well, no, the mullahs have no interest in a community of nations, unless it is a restored Persian empire, and whatever the Iranian people want is of no concern. This is a theocracy, not a democracy. Obama has said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. (No one anywhere can find any evidence of such a fatwa) From Raymond Ibrahim:

First, the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka‘b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances (discussed here), taqiyya became second nature to the Shia — the sect currently ruling Iran. …

Indeed, during a recent speech, supreme leader Khamenei — whose fatwa Obama is now citing — boasted about Iran’s uranium enrichment, even as his military commanders shouted, “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Back in October of 2008, Martin Kramer, President of Shalem College in Jerusalem wrote a primer on the Middle East for the new president. It’s long, but worth your while for understanding where Obama’s ideas about the Middle East came from, and why they are fixed and unassailable — and mistaken.

Here are a couple more excellent short pieces explaining the present situation. “This Is Not a Deal” by Abe Greenwald. And “The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement” by John Podhoretz, both from Commentary. And here’s “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw” by Charles Duelfer from Politico.

People react differently to great policy changes or errors — some just don’t want to think about it, and others want to learn everything they can. Painful either way.



And So It Goes: by The Elephant's Child
RAMclr-022615-negotiations-WS-wide-IBD-Oped-extra-147.gif.cms(click to enlarge)


It’s Not About American Safety, It’s About a “Legacy” For Obama by The Elephant's Child

CAVSZGZU0AAe8F1The key to understanding current events seems to be President Barack Obama. Who is this man, and what does he stand for? He has been our president for over six years and we don’t even know him at all.

Richard Epstein who knew him at the University of Chicago and through his next door neighbor who was a close friend of Obama, said he has the most perfect disposition for a politician. He is in complete control of himself, and wants to be in control of his situation, which, for example, is why he always uses a teleprompter. He keeps all of his thoughts to himself. In the Senate he was the farthest left of all.

Epstein said he has a good mind, but it is a clever means-ends mind. He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind. Yet he does not have the skill set to deal with the complex problems he wants to address.

Bret Stephens writing for the Wall Street Journal today, called him “The Capitulationist,” with the subhead “The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.”

Victor Davis Hanson called it a “Chicago Presidency” and said “Malice is a valuable political tool for Barack Obama” The point is not that all this is outrageous, but rather that it is deliberately outrageous, again begging the question, “So what are you going to do about it?” …

“What then is the full Obama presidency? It is the quest for extralegal power not just by ignoring the law, tradition, or custom, but by doing so flagrantly and without concern, to the point of rendering critics impotent — and thereby accruing even more power to enrage and embarrass them.”

Seth Mandel at Commentary “The Obama administration’s official perspective on the Middle East currently engulfed in brutal sectarian conflict, civil war, and the collapse of state authority is: Let it burn. Nothing matters but a piece of paper affirming a partnership with the region’s key source of instability and terror in the name of a presidential legacy.”…

Obviously the president wants a deal, and he’s willing to do just about anything for it. The Obama administration long ago abandoned the idea that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and only recently began hinting at this shift in public. Officials have no interest in even talking about Yemen while they’re negotiating the Iran deal. It’s a singleminded pursuit; obsessive, irrational, ideologically extreme.

Yukia Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency: “Without Iranian disclosure of past illicit activities, including nuclear enrichment and weaponization research, it’s hard to see how the Obama Administration can honor its core pledge to strike a deal that would give the West a one-year warning if Iran decides to build a bomb. As Olli Heinonen, the former Deputy Director-General for Safeguards at the IAEA, told us, “you need to have that baseline. You want to understand what they were doing.” An Iran that has the know-how to rapidly weaponize highly enriched uranium or plutonium may need only months to assemble a bomb.” …

The U.S. may also accept a verification plan that would grant the IAEA access to “some” of the sites that Iran has so far closed to the IAEA. But any verification program that doesn’t give inspectors unfettered and immediate access to any place they want to see does little more than create the illusion of inspections while giving Iran the opportunity to cheat.”

IBD: “At the eleventh hour before the Tuesday deadline, Tehran negotiators predictably changed positions and demanded new concessions. Unfortunately, unlike Ronald Reagan, President Obama won’t be walking away. …Americans should think back nearly three decades ago to a low-key former British Embassy in northern Reykjavik in Iceland.

Americans should think back nearly three decades ago to a low-key former British Embassy in northern Reykjavik in Iceland. It was there, in October 1986, that Ronald Reagan picked up his papers and walked out on a U.S.-Soviet summit, not caring a whit what the media or the Washington establishment would say.

He had won the Cold War by standing his ground that day, as many ex-Soviets confirmed. Striking a note familiar today, Gorbachev adviser Anatoly Chernyaev’s notes show that the Russian ruler believed “Reagan needs” a deal at Reykjavik “as a matter of personal ambition, so as to go down in history as a ‘peace president.'”

But Reagan needed nothing of the sort. He knew his job was to protect the nation and the Free World and that those seated across from him were representatives of what he wasn’t afraid to call an Evil Empire.



Some Days the “Information Age” Is Really Troubling by The Elephant's Child

Do we have too many aspiring reporters chasing too little real news? To much news and they can’t sort out the important from the trivial? Or only that the loons are now in charge? The “deal” that was supposed to emerge from the negotiations in Lausanne by today isn’t going to emerge so they were going to put it off for one more day, but then somebody in the White House said Eeew, tomorrow is April Fools Day. Very bad political PR, and so they decided to put the deadline off till June.

The Governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, responded promptly to the Religious Freedom kerfuffle in Indiana by banning any travel to Indiana, apparently unaware that his own state of Connecticut has long had a similar RFRA law. And nobody has bothered to read the law, but only act on others’ talking points.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who is gay, declared religious liberty protections that exist in 30 states as “dangerous” and the sure path to a semblance of “days of segregation and discrimination marked by ‘Whites Only’ signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms.” RFRA simply established the balancing test that courts must apply in religious freedom cases. Which indicates only that Mr. Cook has no idea what the laws actually say, and yet Apple happily sells their products in countries where homosexuality is illegal, and is punishable with the death penalty. ISIS throws gays off the roofs of tall buildings, but they may be too busy killing people to buy iPhones.

One of Hillary’s campaign supporters came up with a list of words that may not be used in reference to Hillary because they are ‘sexist’ and got a day’s worth of attention, but Hillary is running to be the “first woman president” while emphasizing that her particular qualifications are her work for women’s rights and for girls.  Seems as if there is some disconnection here, but nevermind, she has wiped her server of anything that might be incriminating.

The Washington Post reports that by a 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.   Huh? What was the question?

Q: Thinking now about the situation with Iran – would you support or oppose an agreement in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons?

Apparently unmentioned was the notion that the “best deal” would be to extend to one year the time it would take for Iran to perfect a nuclear bomb.

Mohammad Reva Naqdi, head of the Basij militia unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards turned up to reassure the world that “erasing Israel off the Map” is very much on the table on the eve of the P+5 nuclear talks, and will never be negotiated away as part of any nuclear deal with President Obama.

John Kerry, Energy Sec. Moniz and Wendy Sherman did not rise from their chairs and say, well we’ll just have to put some extremely severe sanctions back on and walk out, but offered to continue talking till June, and what else could we give up to get a deal—any deal?

Breitbart is reporting that an Iran deal has been reached after a long night session, and details are to come, or it’s not a final accord, or?

Iran under the Mullahs believes that Armageddon is much to be desired because it will ring about the return of the Mahdi, the Messiah, which will be followed by total bliss, or paradise. Yet that remains unmentioned in the ‘news’ at all.

One story contradicts the other. What is Real?

Strange Day



Man The Lifeboats, The Ship of State is Sinking by The Elephant's Child

Why Yemen Matters: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times 3/28/15

Last Thursday, the Middle East Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country of Yemen. And they didn’t bother to tell the White House what they were doing because they don’t trust them. Saudi and Egypt have been active in a Yemen war before, but on opposite sides. It is striking that they should join forces, not against Israel, but against Iran.

Uncertain of Obama, Arab States Gear Up for War: David Schenker and Gilad Wenig, Wall Street Journal, 3/29/15

“Few organizations boast a reputation of dysfunction comparable to the Arab League’s. Over seven decades the Arab League has distinguished itself through infighting and fecklessness. But now, with the Obama administration seen as missing in action in the Middle East, the alliance of 22 countries is undergoing a renaissance. Over the weekend, the Arab League met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and endorsed the creation of an intervention force to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Regional backing for the force came days after a mostly Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed, nominally Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, who last week sacked the provisional capital of Aden and drove Yemen President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.”

Obama Admin Threatens U. S. Allies for Disagreeing with Iran Nuke Deal: Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.”

Richard Engel: Military Officials Say Allies No Longer Trust  Us, Fear Intel Might Leak to Iran: Daniel Bassali, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.

Obama’s Latest Concession Guts What’s Left of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jonathan Tobin, Contentions 3/26/15

“The Iranians were holding their ground on yet another key point in the negotiations and, to no one’s surprise, the Obama administration is preparing to give in to them again. This time the issue is Iran’s refusal to open its facilities up to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors eager to see how much progress they’ve made on military research for the nuclear program. But instead of threatening to walk away from a process that appears on track to ending sanctions on the Islamist regime over this key point, the administration is preparing to amend the current draft of the deal to allow the Iranians several years’ leeway before they’d be required to give a full reckoning about how close they are to a bomb. What this amounts to is the West waving the white flag on effective verification of Iran’s nuclear activities. And that means that not only will Iran be able to cheat their way to a bomb, but they may very well get there even while observing the agreement that is expected to be finalized by the end of the month.”

Free Fall in the Middle East: Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, 3/27/15

“But as President Ahab glances around his deck, few of his shipmates are manning their posts—in fact, most seem to be scrambling for the lifeboats. Oh well, there’s always that trusty tar, Unnamed State Department Official, to rely on for a friendly quote in Politico:

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view. […] We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this. The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”…

James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, cuts through the commentary on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a certain pithiness:”

“We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”



Another Fine Day in the Middle East. Terror, Killings and Destruction, and a New Civil War in Yemen. by The Elephant's Child

Yemen

To Briefly Sum Up:

On Monday, the Obama White House dismissed the Ayatollah Khamenei’s “Of course Death to America” rhetoric, telling CNN that it was just something “intended for a domestic political audience,” and thus can reasonably be ignored. Josh Earnest had just explained that such rhetoric provided even more reason for negotiating a deal with Iran.

How does that work? Iran has been proclaiming themselves an implacable enemy of America ever since 1979 and the Iranian revolution. If you think that although they are a major oil-producing state, they just want nuclear energy to keep the lights on, ask yourself why they also have been developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In spite of every effort made by the White House to prevent Bibi Netanyahu’s reelection, the Israelis gave him a significant vote of confidence and reelected him resoundingly. Obama is furious.

Obama has a bucket list of accomplishments that he expects will prove to the world that he did too deserve that Nobel Peace Prize, and go down in history as one of the greatest presidents. It’s not going too well. Getting the troops out of Iraq was a big one, and that has gone sour. Closing Guantanamo has not gone well, but he’s still determined. He’s just given in a little on getting the troops out of Afghanistan, but only till the end of the year — politely letting the Taliban know just how long they have to wait, with his usual lack of understanding of basic strategy.

He was determined to be the American president who made peace between Israel and Palestine with a two-state solution, forcing Israel to give up their borders, their safety, and their future to a bunch of terrorists supported by the peaceful state of Iran.

And now he’s determined to make a completely worthless deal with Iran, and will obviously give up anything and everything to get a deal, any deal. Iran has no intention of accepting any restraint on their activities. They have refused surprise inspections, or any inspections for which they cannot easily prepare. Since Obama reduced the sanctions, they have no reason to agree to anything. They don’t need to.

We’re told in the meantime that they could probably have a nuclear bomb within 45 days, but the UN nuclear inspectors have said that there is not much that they are actually sure of.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatening the Baltic states with Russian submarine activity and a rising cruise-missile threat, Obama has been unable to find the time to meet with NATO’s new Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The new idea is that he only has time for our enemies, but not for our allies.

Stoltenberg was twice prime minister of Norway, and is well aware of increasing Russian bomber patrols that include mock attack runs on NATO members’ warships. Our nation is pledged, as a NATO member to defend other NATO members. A meeting with the prime minister might be in order, but then Obama has dumped the eastern Europe missile defense and refused to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. And Stoltenberg might remind him of America’s binding NATO pledge.

Yemen has melted down. We got our people out, but apparently left $500 million worth of advanced weapons for al Qaeda, along with secret files about U.S. counter-terrorism operations. Saudi Arabia has launched military operations against the Iran-backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen. The Royal Saudi Air Force has bombed the positions of Yemen’s Houthi militia and destroyed most of their air defenses. In a joint statement Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait will repel Houthi militias, al Qaeda and ISIS as the coup in Yemen represents a major threat to the region’s stability.



The World Crisis of a Nuclear Iran: They May Already Be There. by The Elephant's Child

Iran-Military-Chief-AP

Here’s your chilling paragraph for today:

Suspected for years of plotting to dismantle the U.S. electric grid, American officials have confirmed that Iranian military brass have endorsed a nuclear electromagnetic pulse explosion that would attack the country’s power system.

American defense experts made the discovery while translating a secret Iranian military handbook, raising new concerns about Tehran’s recent nuclear talks with the administration.

In the article was a link to the website of Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) with the headline “Franks Launches Caucus to Address EMP Threat, Introduces “SHIELD Act,” which seemed a positive step, but then I noticed the date was February 16, 2011 — 5 years ago!

So I went to the congressman’s website, and apparently he has just introduced another bill, “encouraged by last year’s unanimous House vote.” So was this one of those bills that Harry Reid tabled to be sure no one had a chance to vote for it? As with all congressional offices, they don’t want to hear from you if you don’t live in their district.

A further search turned up an article written by Dr. Peter Vincent Fry, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards. Senior advisers to President Reagan warned that Iran has nuclear capability already:

“Iran should be regarded by national security decision makers as a nuclear missile state capable of posing an existential threat to the United States and its allies.”

“Iran has orbited four satellites, some weighing over one ton, demonstrating it can deliver a nuclear weapon anywhere. Iran has been secretly working on nuclear weapons for over twenty (20) years.

…The IAEA has also repeatedly warned that it has only partial access to Iran’s nuclear program and does not know what is going on in several underground facilities suspected of nuclear weapons development. …

Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom.  For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos.”

Barbarism, he says, can triumph over civilization without war. The capability to make an EMP attack, means Iran can inflict Assured Destruction on the United States using a single warhead, cancels all the credibility of U.S. security guarantees. Iran with nuclear missiles is a world crisis comparable to Islamic conquests during the Dark Ages, the rise of Nazi Germany, or the Soviet threat during the Cold War.

It’s a long article, but you should read the whole thing. And  you might do what you can to get your congressional representatives moving on this. Iran does not need an agreement. Why are they stringing the president along?




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