American Elephants


Uncommon Knowledge with Charles Hill and James Mattis by The Elephant's Child

Charles Hill and General James Mattis on Uncommon Knowledge, July 28, 2015, discussing the Iran Deal and the state of the world with Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson.They believe that the United States has handed its leading role to Iran, and essentially provided a dowry along with it. As the U.S. pulls back and the sanctions are lifted—Iran will start making oil money again. At this point the sanctions are gone.

They suggest that if we want better deals and and a stronger international presence we need to listen to other points of view, especially from the three branches of government. If we engage more with the world and use solid strategies to protect and encourage democracy and freedom at home and abroad, then we will have fewer military interventions abroad. That will put us in a better position to handle problems like ISIS. This conversation took place a year and a half ago, but remains illuminating.



The Electoral College Votes Donald Trump 45th President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Sorry, Democrats—Donald Trump is the President-Elect. The Electoral College has voted, and your death threats, protests and total unfamiliarity with the Constitution have gone for naught. It got a little odd here and there, one woman in Wisconsin screamed at electors “You don’t Deserve to Be in America”, and “This is My America” as the Police dragged her out.

Here in Washington State, although Hillary Clinton won the state, 4 faithless electors voted 3 for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. (?) The electoral College ended up 304 for Donald Trump and 227 for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump actually gained votes in Jill Stein’s recount. Hillary got the defectors. (numbers corrected)

Michael Barone, a long-time close observer of the political campaign business, said that this year the rules seemed to change. As technology is changing our lives in unexpected ways, it is also changing the political scene.

  1. Money doesn’t seem to matter so much. The Trump campaign spent somewhat more than half as much as the Hillary campaign, but won nearly half again as many electoral votes.
  2. TV spots don’t matter as much any more. A tweet gets more attention and a YouTube video gets more votes than a $10 million ad buy.
  3. Celebrities don’t matter. Lady Gaga and Beyonce did concerts for Hillary. Monmouth County NJ voted for Trump.
  4. Outrageous statements don’t matter. Voters were looking for change.
  5. Polling and big data don’t automatically advise the right moves.
  6. Understanding how the opposition thinks is enormously important. The Trump campaign got Hillary, but the reverse was not true. Hillary’s campaign people blamed their defeat on racism, Comey and the Russians.

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This One Cracked Me Up! Iowa Hawk Strikes Again. by The Elephant's Child

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Sebastian Gorka “How to Defeat the Jihad” by The Elephant's Child

Since September 11, 2001, America has been at war. And that’s about all anyone can say with certainty about a conflict that has cost 7,000 American lives and almost $2 trillion. As long as the most basic strategic questions—Who is the enemy? What are we fighting?—remain unanswered, victory is impossible. Yet this war is eminently winnable if we remove our ideological blinders and apply basic strategic principles.

Our enemy is not “terror” or “violent extremism.” Our enemy is the global jihadi movement, a modern totalitarian ideology rooted in the doctrines and martial history of Islam. America has defeated totalitarian enemies before. Providing a desperately needed dose of clarity, Dr. Gorka shows how we can do it again. He reveals how a toxic political agenda has corrupted our national security practices, precluding the kind of clear-eyed threat analysis and strategic response that led to victory in the Cold War. Bracing, troubling, but ultimately encouraging, Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War fills that gap.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., an internationally recognized authority on strategy, counterterrorism, and national security, holds the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Threat Knowledge Group based in McLean, VA. Dr. Gorka is a regular lecturer for the U.S. Special Operations Command, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and the Green Berets, and has briefed the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Intelligence Council. Dr. Gorka holds a Ph.D. in political science from Corvinus University in Budapest.



Why Should We Remember Pearl Harbor? It was 75 Years Ago! by The Elephant's Child

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[Reposted and revised from last year.]

Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:

In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used  a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict.  Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans.  That, of course included Britain and France.  On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone.  In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny.  The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.

Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to  bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.

On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.

Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.

The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.

We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.

Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”

It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. Victor Davis Hanson recently explained:

We are entering a similarly dangerous interlude. Collapsing oil prices — a good thing for most of the world — will make troublemakers like oil-exporting Iran and Russia take even more risks.

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State feel that conventional military power has no effect on their agendas. The West is seen as a tired culture of Black Friday shoppers and maxed-out credit-card holders.

NATO is underfunded and without strong American leadership. It can only hope that Vladimir Putin does not invade a NATO country such as Estonia, rather than prepare for the likelihood that he will, and soon.

The United States has slashed its defense budget to historic lows. It sends the message abroad that friendship with America brings few rewards while hostility toward the U.S. has even fewer consequences.

The bedrock American relationships with staunch allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, and Israel are fading. Instead, we court new belligerents that don’t like the United States, such as Turkey and Iran.

No one has any idea of how to convince a rising China that its turn toward military aggression will only end in disaster, in much the same fashion that a confident westernizing Imperial Japan overreached in World War II. Lecturing loudly and self-righteously while carrying a tiny stick did not work with Japanese warlords of the1930s. It won’t work with the Communist Chinese either.

Radical Islam is spreading in the same sort of way that postwar Communism once swamped post-colonial Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this time there are only weak responses from the democratic, free-market West. Westerners despair over which is worse — theocratic Iran, the Islamic State, or Bashar Assad’s Syria — and seem paralyzed over where exactly the violence will spread next and when it will reach them.

Will the next threat be in the form of Iran’s finally completed nuclear weapons? Or a cyber attack from Russia or elsewhere? Or the EMP attack that will paralyze the nation? There are always threats, but preventative vigilance can stop it. But where is the preventative vigilance?

We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.



I’m Continually Updating the Post on Trump’s Cabinet Nominees by The Elephant's Child

As President-elect Trump nominates more interesting people to lead federal agencies and offices, I’m adding them to my previous post. Follow the link or just scroll down to the picture of the White House in the snow. Democrats are beside themselves because the Republican President-elect seems to be choosing people who are opposed to Obama’s policies. He has picked three retired Marine Generals, He wants a war!! He has picked someone to head the EPA who doesn’t even believe in the Paris Accords!! We’re all going to die from an overheating Earth. More nominations to come, with constant speculation by the media, but you can’t believe a nomination unless announced by Donald Trump.

Marine General Jack Kelly (ret) has been nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He formerly led Southern Command, and has been concerned with the terrorists and drug smugglers crossing our southern border, and the release of the “worst of the worst” from Guantanamo.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, has done successful battle in the courtroom with the EPA and is very familiar with the energy industry. He has been nominated to head the EPA, and Democrats are having a hissy fit.

It’s 36° here at the moment and we had lots of frost this morning. We may get snow later in the week, and the Earth, by the way, is currently cooling.

Dr. Ben Carson, nominated to head HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is being criticized in the media because he has never been in government. This is a bad thing?

Not a federal office, but JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, a Wall Street heavyweight will take over the chairmanship of the Business Roundtable. As an organization of the top business leaders, Mr. Dimon will be uniquely placed to consult with the president on BRT’s agenda of tax, regulatory and immigration reform. This is a good thing. Business is not the enemy, they are the ones who hire and innovate and make the economy grow.

Democrats hate Marine Generals, Business CEOs, and “Climate Deniers”. That should tell you something.



James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.




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