American Elephants

Obama Remains Committed to a Failed Strategy In A War He Has No Plans to Win. by The Elephant's Child

obamacareThere has been a notable kerfuffle in the media after the ISIS attack in Paris. Why are we getting nowhere in our response to ISIS? Why is Obama claiming that ISIS is contained, when it is so obviously clear that they are expanding into other countries? Why when France asked for our help in striking back at ISIS, did he just brush them off? Why did John Kerry make perhaps the worst flub ever committed by a Secretary of State after the Paris attack when he spoke  to families and staff at the embassy in Paris, effectively saying that Charlie Hebdo kind of asked for it you know. We have supposedly been “containing” ISIS for months yet accomplishing nothing.

Last week, Byron York reported that a military strike near Abu Kamal, in Syria, destroyed 116 fuel trucks out of nearly 300 massed on the ground. Not the first time we have hit the Islamic State oil trucks, but the first time we have hit so many, according to a coalition spokesman.  So there are 300 sitting there, and we could only destroy 116? Apparently the answer is that Obama has been worried about civilian casualties. What if a civilian was driving one of those trucks or standing nearby? General Jack Keane, a retired army four star general, said that Obama’s rules of engagement have hobbled our military to an unprecedented extent.

Such worries are entirely consistent with the entire U.S. war against the Islamic State. “Our air campaign, since it began, has been the most restrictive in terms of rules of engagement that we have ever entered into in the last 25 years,” said Jack Keane, a retired Army four-star general who now chairs the Institute for the Study of War. “This has been largely due to the White House’s insistence that there be zero civilian casualties, at the behest of the president of the United States.”

In Abu Kamal, U.S. planes dropped leaflets before the attack, warning people — Islamic State, non-Islamic State, whoever — to leave before the assault began. After waiting for an hour, the U.S. planes struck.

U.S pilots confirm that the Obama administration blocks 75 percent of Islamic State strikes. “We can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target on front of us.” Pentagon officials said the military is furiously working to prevent civilian casualties.

The New York Post pointed out that ‘the Obama administration just realized cays ago that ISIS is one of the richest organizations in the world — with assets totaling billions.’ Its assets include 1) up to $1 billion seized from Iraqi banks. 2) Some $200 million a year from stolen Iraqi wheat.3) Hundreds of millions extorted from captive populations. 4) tens of millions from selling sex slaves and looted antiquities as well as ransoming foreign hostages. They cover the payroll with just half their oil revenue, so even if their oil business is decimated, they can keep going for years.

Speaking from the White House today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to reassure reporters that President Obama is taking the threat from ISIS seriously and is gathering as much intelligence on the terrorist army as he can. This comes in the wake of veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s report that her sources tell her that President Obama does not want and will not read intelligence reports on Islamic groups he does not consider to be terrorists, despite they’re being on a U.S. list of designated terrorists. That’s probably anyone connected with his Iran Deal. From The Weekly Standard

Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Obama said that, while the Paris attacks might have been a “setback” for his ISIS strategy, they would not change it. When reporters expressed surprise at his continued embrace of an approach that was failing, he lashed out at them for daring to question him. At a time when an American president might have been expected to show some righteous anger at the attackers and those who enabled them, Obama instead directed his fury towards critics at home who worry about jihadist violence against the homeland. It was a shameful spectacle, and a revealing one.

Barack Obama remains committed to a failed strategy against an enemy he has long underestimated in a war he has no plans to win. Nothing has changed. And this time, what’s past truly is prologue.

For Further Reading:

“The Long War Continues:” Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, The Weekly Standard.

“The Islamic War:” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review.

“The Poverty of American Strategy:” Kenneth Allard, Real Clear Defense.

“Obama and the ‘ISIS Recruitment Tool’ Canard:” Andrew McCarthy, PJ Media.

“Obama’s ISIS Paralysis:” Richard A. Epstein, The Hoover Institution.


Hits and Misses in the ‘War’ on the Islamic State by The Elephant's Child

It was only days ago that we had word that “Jihadi John,”  the British citizen Mohammed Emwazi, who became known for beheading  Western  hostages for ISIS— was reported hit in Raqqa by an attack from an American drone. U.S. counter terrorism officials said he was killed with a ‘flawless’ drone missile strike the moment he stepped into a car. Pentagon officials are 99 percent sure that he was killed.

He was “evaporated” near a clock tower where ISIS staged public executions. Britain’s Daily Mail had an extensive article on the “World’s most wanted man.” The drone strike took off from Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey, and was piloted from Creech Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

The Daily Mail piece also included an aerial photograph of the site of the drone strike. But it also contains evidence of the problem many have complained of, the White House’s tight control over targeting that is making the administration’s claims of conducting effective air control over ISIS so absurd.


So we know the exact site of ISIS main headquarters, the Islamic Court, but declined to target those because…? Obama seems happy to go after anyone with a drone attack, I suppose because he can assume that the missile that got the target didn’t get anyone who was near, or if they were near they were probably bad guys too? One would assume that targeting ISIS main headquarters might set back their terrorist activities a little.

The British Prime Minister welcomed reports of the killing which he called an ‘act of self defence’.

He stopped short of confirming that Emwazi – who he branded a ‘barbaric murderer’ – was dead but said the targeted attack was ‘the right thing to do’.

There is a high possibility British spies were operating on the ground in Raqqa to help identify Emwazi before the strike and may now be trying to collect DNA evidence to prove his death.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Emwazi’s role in ISIS propaganda videos used to radicalize people meant he was a ‘target worth going after’.

We need a public excuse?

Trying to Make Sense in a Disordered World by The Elephant's Child

francejetPresident Francois Hollande pledged to wage “pitiless war”against ISIS in the wake of the multi-pronged military-style assault on civilians in Paris. This is not the last major attack on a western capital we will see. Within a few short days, ISIS has apparently brought down a civilian Russian airliner killing 224 people,and suicide bombings that killed at least 41 people in Beirut and 19 in Baghdad, and attacked the people of Paris. France still has a warrior tradition, and a military.

French fighter jets dropped 20 bombs on a command and control center, jihadi recruitment center, munitions depot and ISIS training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS headquarters.

At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin captured the moment:

In the last 36 hours, the world reeled from the horror and shock of the terror attacks that took the lives of at least 129 persons and wounded hundreds more. In response a lot of Americans responded to it in the way they instinctively react to everything these days. They changed their profile picture on Facebook.

Mark Steyn headlined his piece on Europe “The Barbarians are Inside, And There Are No Gates.” That was on Friday. He said on the radio apropos the latest campus ‘safe space’ nonsense: “This is what we”re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.” And added:

When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?

Weasel Zippers reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has nearly 1,000 active probes connected to the Islamic State terrorist group inside the United States, law enforcement officials claimed in a letter to President Obama. The letter was from a group of elected sheriffs in Colorado blasting the president’s plan to transfer known terrorists held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to a mainland facility. There would seem to be something to the idea that we really don’t need more terrorists in the country.

Herb Meyer wrote last month that:

For seven years now, President Obama has been conducting what may well be one of history’s greatest political experiments. His revolutionary theory — which this Copernicus-from-Chicago articulates with such supreme confidence that he’s persuaded American voters to elect him twice to the presidency — is that the world would be a safer, less violent place if the United States played a smaller role on the global stage. At the core of this theory lies his hypothesis that American military power is more the problem than the solution; that our over-reliance on guns rather than brains had de-stabilized key parts of the world, such as the Mideast, that would otherwise have been more peaceful and prosperous.

We have an endless flow of statistics and polls, gossip, policies, campaign speeches and public relations which results in a bad case of information overload. How do we sort out the important from what is trivial? College students are demonstrating and screaming about racial slurs that may never have happened, and are outraged that the news media has turned its attention from Yale and the University of Missouri to Paris.

In Turkey, President Obama walked in late to a solemn moment of silence by heads of state there for a G7 conference. In reference to the Syrian refugee crisis, he remarked:  “Society has not passed this exam with good grades.”

Oh well, of course, “Society.” I really don’t think that Barack O’Blameless has any idea just what he has precipitated with his ideology. There are ideological experiments and there is the real world, where real human beings have a hard time getting along, but try to recognize reality when it strikes, right in front of us, and try to react with measured firmness.  If, as Smoky Bear says, you drown your campfire, turn it over and drown it again — maybe you won’t have the whole forest in flames.


Guantanamo: Myths, Propaganda, and The Consequences of Progressive Politics. by The Elephant's Child

BN-LD124_2gitmo_M_20151105184452Under the Obama administration, the Democrats have lost 900 state legislature seats, 12 more states are now governed by Republicans, Congress now has 69 more Republican House seats, and 13 more Republican Senate seats. That’s Obama’s legacy. Normally, when Congress has turned against the president’s programs, the president will seek to cooperate more, or at least consult, with the other party in recognition of the intent of the people.

Obama, on the other hand, has determined that he’s going to show the people just who’s the boss and govern by executive orders and memos. When Obama released Taliban who were being held at Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, he sent them to Qatar, for the Qataris to manage. He said:

We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely. That’s been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantanamo. There is a certain rate that takes place.

I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it was contrary to the American national security and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if, in fact, they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses. But this is what happens at the end of wars. That was true for George Washington, that was true for Abraham Lincoln, that was true for FDR. That has true for every combat situation, that at some point you make sure that you try to get your folks back, and that’s the right thing to do.

The Editorial Board at Bloomberg remarked that “It may come as a surprise to Barack Obama that the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces does not necessarily get to decide when a war is over.”

He also does not understand that the detainees in Guantanamo are not prisoners of war, to be sent home when the war ends,  but terrorists — armed enemy combatants who do not qualify under the Geneva Conventions  as prisoners of war. They have nevertheless been treated as humanely as if they were.

Democrat political propaganda has attempted to portray the detainees at Gitmo as if they were subject to daily torture. Innumerable inspections from every human rights group have determined that they are being well treated, with respect for the Muslim religion. Yet articles about Gitmo are usually 640x392_50143_187015accompanied by this image of the first arrivals, as if this was the daily state of affairs there. It is not. If you look up pictures of Guantanamo, the list of queries includes wanting to see pictures of torture, or of waterboarding.

Democrats always believe their own propaganda, probably because they don’t read anything else. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 were formed because of the way Allied prisoners of war were treated by the Japanese and the Nazis. Today ISIS chops off heads and burns their prisoners alive, or ask John McCain about the Vietnamese, long after the Conventions were accepted as international law. Nazis during WWII were detained in prison camps here, and were well treated. Yet the myth persists. Democrats are always sure detainees are being mistreated, because to so believe fits their political agenda.

Normally, six national security agencies and the Defense Secretary must sign off on letting a detainee go. Obama has ignored them and had his own special committee appointed, composed largely of compliant minions, to make the decision. Announced just as the Pope was arriving, Abdul Shalabi, suspected of being an Osama bin Laden bodyguard, was released back to Saudi Arabia. Shalabi has agreed to take a ‘rehabilitation class’ in Saudi Arabia.

Out of 647 detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, 116 have gone right back to “re-engaging” in terrorism according to a report from the DNI James Clapper.

In August, Muktar Yahya Najee al Warafi  sued for release on the grounds that the war is over and the law authorizing it (and his detention) has expired. (Yes the detainees have full access to attorneys).  Warafi, a Yemeni, served as a medic for the Taliban in 2001. He cited claims by White House officials and Obama’s declaration last January that “America’s longest war has come to a responsible end.”

U.S District Court Judge Royce Lamberth was not persuaded. As long as hostilities continue, so does the war’s legal basis, and Obama’s rhetoric does not overturn Congress’ intention.

President Obama is about to send Congress a plan to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay. It is doomed from the start, but then he can shut down Gitmo by executive order. As Josh Earnest said, we “work with Congress where we can, but if Congress continues to refuse, I wouldn’t rule out the President using every element of his authority to make progress.” The Wall Street Journal added:

Another day at the office for a progressive President intent on reducing the legislative branch to a nullity. For the record, the National Defense Authorization Act this year contains an explicit congressional ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. through 2016.

The White House wants to transfer the prisoners to the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in South Carolina; at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, or the federal supermax prison in Colorado. The WSJ again:

Mr. Obama’s inability to negotiate honestly with the legislature is a hallmark of his Presidency. More damaging is the precedent he is setting by making major policy changes with no more than a wave of his executive hand. Press reports note that Administration lawyers are working on legal justifications for the Gitmo order. Decision first, the law later.

The press is still invested in Obama’s success, or at least in quieting outrage. Any other president who, while prosecuting an unpopular war, credited with 3 out of 4 deaths in Afghanistan under his watch, saw a series of critical national security advisors resign might get some unfavorable coverage. On Sept. 22, General John Allen announced his intention to resign, Within a week, Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, handed in her resignation. The report from Commentary with the details is a devastating account of a president paralyzed with indecision. He is being tested by the world’s bad actors and has little resolve to act early and decisively.

Hillary: Not to Worry, the VA Scandal Is Not a “Widespread” Problem. Only 40 Vets Died. by The Elephant's Child

2016_Split_Campaign_-06aa5Hillary is at it again. She said on Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday, that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs are real, but not nearly as widespread as the coverage would indicate.

She blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of an “ideological agenda” and said “they want the VA to fail.”

“Now nobody would believe that from the coverage you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have,” Clinton said.

“They try to create a downward spiral, don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because they want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization.”

Veterans, she said, often report having a positive experience with the VA when they get treatment through the agency. “I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans, and overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.”

Translation: Those nasty Republicans are just on a partisan witch-hunt, and don’t care about the veterans. And that’s why they are having these partisan hearings about Benghazi, trying to blame me for my dear friend Chris Stevens death, and saying nasty things about me, when I worked so hard as Secretary of State and I was so proud of what I had accomplished. And when he died, I couldn’t sleep for weeks and weeks. It’s all because Republicans are such evil people.

The embarrassing facts: Extended wait times at VA hospitals have aroused public outrage. A VA Inspector General’s report last year found that veterans in Phoenix waited an average 115 days for an initial doctor’s appointment—while VA officials claimed the average wait time was only 24 days. The report also found that 1,700 veterans were intentionally kept off patient rolls and 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at the Phoenix facility.

Senate Democrats blocked a  Republican bill to fund the VA earlier this month because Democrats wanted more funding for a bigger budget deal that would include more funding for things like climate change.

Hillary is a remarkably callous person. No problem using veterans problems with the VA to  pitch her own victim status. But then she never had much problem with the unnecessary death of four Americans at Benghazi, nor with lying to their parents about why they died. The VA taking vets off the wait list to make the VA official record of efficiency in treating patients look better, is not really a “widespread” problem — only 40 vets died because they couldn’t get treatment.

And it is still not fixed. Although General Shinseki was fired, the people responsible for the scandal were not. It’s a government agency. They don’t fire people.

Add Another Triumph to the Obama Legacy List by The Elephant's Child

BN-HV516_0411ob_J_20150411183828Just the headlines alone are funny:

June 7, 2015: The Secret Life of Fidel Castro A member of Castro’s security guard tells all.

August 18, 2015: Obama circumventing Congress to loosen Cuba travel ban Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the effort is one more example of the president abusing his executive power and trying to circumvent Congress.

August 20, 2015: What Does the U.S. Get Out of Obama’s Restored Ties to Cuba? Nothing Good The 54 year communist military dictatorship has gotten the full benefit of restored U.S. ties without conceding anything.

September 9, 2015: Coddling Castros Has Made Cuban Regime More Vicious than Ever Far from loosening up, the Castro brothers are cracking down on Cubans harder than ever. It’s as if the fresh attention is a perk for them alone, and the Cuban people not invited.

October 08, 2015: Cubans Have FLOCKED To The US Since Obama Renewed Relations The pace of immigration from Cuba is up 78 percent this year.

October 15, 3015: Cuba-based musical group performs at White House for the first time in 50 years Members of Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club perform at a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month

October 15, 2015 ‘A SLAP N THE FACE TO OBAMA:’ CUBAN TROOPS FIGHT FOR ASSAD IN SYRIA Cuban special forces are operating on the ground in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are expected to operate Russian tanks in battles against anti-Assad rebels.

Just another bright idea scratched off on the to-do list.

A Wave of Terror in Jerusalem Inspired by Religious Fervor by The Elephant's Child


Sheikh Muhammad Salah “Abu Rajab” during a sermon at Al-Abrar Mosque on Friday directed his listeners to take kitchen knives and attack Jewish Israelis in groups and”cut them into body parts,” according to a video obtained by MEMRI.

Brothers, we must constantly remind the world and everyone who has forgotten … This is Gaza! This is the place of trenches and guns! This is the West Bank! This is the place of bombs and daggers!” Salah told his audience.

“Today, we realize why the [Jews] build walls. They do not do this to stop missiles, but to prevent the slitting of their throats.” A few minutes into the sermon, he began wielding a knife.

My brother in the West Bank: Stab! My brother in the West Bank: Stab the myths of the Talmud in their minds! My brother in the West Bank: Stab the myths about the temple in their hearts!” Salah said.

“You will get nothing in our land except for slaughtering or stabbing. Why? The world will say that we are terrorists, that we incite. Yes!” Salah shouted.

“‘Oh Prophet, sufficient for you and for whoever follows you of the believers is Allah. Oh Prophet of Allah, incite the believers to fight.’ Why? Oh America, oh Crusader aggressors, oh Arab Zionists, oh Zionists from among the criminal Jews: Are we aggressors? You have come of your own volition to be slaughtered on our land.”

He encouraged young Palestinian men to “form stabbing quads” and attack victims with “axes and butcher knives.”

The attacks have been spreading for two weeks. Individuals and whole groups on a bus are being attacked, police units are attacked and individuals anywhere.  Hamas killed a Jewish couple as they were driving with their four children in the northern West Bank. A Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem’s Old City, also slashed a woman and a two year old boy. Several attacks  have been carried out by women.

A Palestinian terrorist drove his vehicle into a group of several people waiting at a bus stop. He got out of his car with a meat cleaver and began attacking the wounded and others with his implement.

The Israeli security cabinet has sent troops in to bolster police units in Israeli cities that have been stretched particularly thin, especially in Jerusalem. Raanana, an upscale suburb, had never before seen attacks, yet there were two this morning . Five Israelis were wounded, one seriously. Both attackers were residents of East Jerusalem.

The attackers are not frustrated with the peace process. What is reported is “Muslim religious fervor that is drenched in the fever of martyrdom and faith-based hate.”

The conventional narrative is about the sins of the “occupation” and Israel denying hope to the Palestinians, what we hear from them is a very different story. This is not a story of the failure of Israel to make enough concessions in negotiations to bring peace.

If Palestinians are engaged in an intifada that is, at its core, a religious war rather than a protest movement about Israeli policies or a desire for a Palestinian state, then everything that the Obama administration and even many of Israel’s American supporters think they know about the conflict is just plain wrong.

The president and his foreign policy team have been consistent in refusing to admit that there is any conflict with the form of Islam that has produced these enemies.

Pretending that those people that we are fighting have nothing to do with Islam is stupid. They may not represent all Muslims, but backers of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terror groups are not a tiny minority in the Middle East. In fact, though the number of active fighters is relatively small, those who sympathize with them make up a significant proportion of the Muslim population. The reason for that is that, although President Obama poses at times as an expert about what is and is not Islam, large numbers of Muslims disagree with his rulings on that question. …

Protests about land and negotiations can be met with diplomacy. Religious wars that seek to spill the blood of infidel Jews must be with decisive force, not talk. Those Americans who don’t understand this are part of Israel’s problems, not advocates for a viable solution.


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