American Elephants


A Question of Character. by The Elephant's Child

hillary clintonHillary’s greatest problem is that though she has a profound interest in politics, she has really lousy political instincts. That is a sense of the right thing to do and a sense for how one’s actions will appear to others. The Clinton administration was full of controversy, the travel office scandal erupted early, as did Hillary’s expectation of being Bill’s co-president.

What she learned instead was a defensiveness and self-protective attitude that led to lies and concealment. Bill had pretty good political instincts, and a good-old-boy, aw-shucks grin that served him pretty well. You would think that observing Lois Lerner and her e-mail scandal would have alerted Hillary to potential troubles, but instead it led her to have her own private server installed in her home. Secretiveness replaced openness. When you try to pretend openness as a protective pose — nobody believes you anyway. It’s too late.

Good political instincts would have prevented the whole catastrophe of Benghazi. Deposing Muammar Gaddafi, refusing security to the ambassadorial mission, denial of the nature of the terrorist attackers, refusing help to the embattled American contractors, and then the absurd attempt to blame it all on a short, dumb video, and then Hillary met the plane with the bodies returning to the United States, and assured mourning parents that they would get the guy who made the video.

Any careful read of Hillary’s history should prevent her from ever being considered as “the first woman president” which seems to be her aim. I don’t accept the idea of first of this sex, first of this ethnicity, first of this color. That is not what is important about a person’s qualifications, but rather their accomplishments and their character. Can we trust them with high office? Do they have a good understanding of American history and character? Do they have a good mind? Do they have good political instincts?  Trust it to the Left to always put the emphasis on the wrong things.



Iran Proceeds Resolutely On It’s Way, Ignoring the Talks. by The Elephant's Child

AP080923010567 Iran on Sunday unveiled their new cruise missile that it claimed would extend the Islamic Republic’s potential range to 2,500 kilometers, placing cities like Budapest, Warsaw and Athens within striking difference. Their intercontinental ballistic missiles are not part of the nuclear talks with Iran, we are told. Tehran has refused to include their growing missile-development program as part of the negotiations. It is not any part of the deal, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded us last week in his speech to Congress.

The Soumar missile, as it is known in Iran, is a copy of the Soviet Kh-55 which was stolen from the Ukraine in 2001 and apparently reverse engineered in Iran. It flies at low altitude and is thus hard for radar to detect. The payload is reportedly in the 200-kilogram range, not yet capable of delivering a nuclear device. It does, however raise the question of U.S. plans to station missile defense systems in Europe. Russia has long contended that Iranian missiles threaten neither Europe nor the U.S.. This is an interesting development, if it was taken without Russian consent.

Back when he as a mere candidate, Barack Obama said that diplomacy with rogue regimes was an important issue “The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them… is ridiculous,’ he declared in 2007. “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,” he told Al-Arabiya. He has been so determined on a deal that he hasn’t let anything stand in the way — not Congress, not our allies, and especially not the facts.

Unfortunately, the State Department does not conduct after-action reports, forcing participants to confront their mistakes, like the Army does. The State Department has no clear metrics for such measurement. Michael Rubin notes that:

Too many American diplomats dismiss the need to consider mistakes. Instead, many are committed to the belief that talking is a cost-free, risk-free strategy. Testifying before the Senate in support of Obama’s outreach to Iran, Nicholas Burns, the second undersecretary of state for foreign affairs under George W. Bush, promised, “We will be no worse off if we try diplomacy and fail.”

We project our American understandings onto other countries with different cultures — who see entering into discussions as a weak response, and lifting the sanctions as complete surrender. Ignorance of an adversary’s true intentions can kill. Obama seems to believe that Iranians are reasonable people who really want the same things we do. Obama’s foolish rush into a deal with Iran would be disastrous.

Every U.S. administration has attempted to bring Iran into the family of nations in spite of its rhetoric and in spite of its actions. It’s hard for nations who yearn for peace to understand those that yearn for the apocalypse. In the  year before Obama agreed to talks with Iran, the Iranian economy had shrunk by 5.4 percent. To bring them to the table, Obama has released more than $11 billion to Iran. The only two times Iran has reversed course after swearing to a course of no compromises have been when Iran was close to collapse. Michael Rubin says — Only one thing will deter Iran: “forcing the regime to choose between its nuclear ambition and its survival.” Pretending to delay them for ten years is pathetic.

Does Obama think his deal will deter Iran? Does he believe that ten years will let him off the hook? Or does he simply have no understanding of the consequences of his actions nor consider the possibility that he might indeed be wrong.



A Slow-Motion Disaster Unfolding Before Our Eyes by The Elephant's Child

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Last Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual Policy Conference, National Security Advisor Susan Rice spoke to the conference. The most important element of the post-World War II nuclear non-proliferation regime is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968. Iran is a signatory to that treaty and has never pulled out.  As outlined in Rice’s speech, the actions of the Obama administration “obviate the NPT as a tool against future proliferation and fatally weakens the UN Security Council. In fact, the Obama administration is jettisoning the entire system by which we have prevented countries and non-state actors from building and obtaining nukes for almost half a century and virtually guaranteeing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” according to Jonathan Greenberg, a Senior Fellow at the Salomon Center.

 In 2002, the world discovered that Iran had secretly built – in violation of their treaty obligations under the NPT – nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak. Since 2002, there have been six U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Iran to cease uranium enrichment. In her speech Monday, Rice said that ending Iranian enrichment is an “unachievable ideal.” That the President’s National Security Advisor is willing to say, in public, that enforcing the NPT and six Security Council mandates is “unachievable” is astounding. The Security Council was designed to be the real seat of power at the UN – the only international body with any real teeth. It will now spend whatever existence it has left gumming pureed solids.

This is like watching a candidate for a Darwin Award gradually demonstrating why he became a candidate, in slow motion. It cannot end well. Rice repeated her boss’s usual blather about “we are keeping all options on the table to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” This used to be, Mr. Greenberg says, “vaguely coded language for hawks who wanted an acknowledgement that the administration was willing to consider military action against Iranian nuclear targets.” Nobody believes them anymore. Shortly after vowing that all options are on the table, Rice suggested that a military option “would only set back Iran’s program” a little. We’ll consider military action but it won’t work;

You might think that new sanctions would work. No, says Rice. “sanctions never stopped Iran from advancing its program.” The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded exactly the opposite. It was the sanctions that brought Iran to the table. Mr. Greenberg summarizes:

So, if we pull all those strings together, here’s what we get: even though we have the legal authority to stop them from enriching uranium, we can’t do that. We’ll consider bombing them, but only as seriously as you would consider something you’ve publicly conceded can’t work. And sanctions don’t work despite the fact that they work. Oh, and, incidentally, if talks fail, the preceding lemons are the only measures we’ve got as a fallback option so the talks kind of have to work.

“Any deal,” she said, “must increase the time it takes Iran to reach breakout capacity.” That’s a fine goal, except that the goal used to be to deny them the ability to achieve breakout at all. …“Any deal,” she continued, “must ensure frequent and intrusive inspections at Iran’s nuclear sites.” According to a UN report released yesterday, another from late-February, and a series of reports from the unfortunately acronymed Institute for Science and International Security, Iran is violating this requirement while sitting in negotiations.

It’s like watching a slow-motion disaster unfold on the screen. You know what is going to happen inevitably, but you are powerless to do anything about it.



George W. Bush Warned Us Of What Was to Come: by The Elephant's Child

President Bush was afraid of what might develop, and tried to warn us. Obama was quite sure that he knew better — that in ending the War in Iraq, he had established his legacy. He was sure that we could just talk any dissidents out of their disagreeable intentions. See Klavan and Whittle below.

Democrats just have a hard time getting their minds around war and what it means. I keep some pictures of frightened refugees fleeing in terror before the oncoming Russian army, with their horse-drawn carts, or wheelbarrows full of their worldly goods — stuck in my mind. If we are not strong — this is what could happen. I don’t think that’s paranoid, but just facing up to the reality of human nature. If ordinary happy families can’t get along, there’s not much hope for permanence of peace among nations.



A Historic Speech, Will It Change the World? by The Elephant's Child

NetCongSmilePodiumSideHseofReps3-3-15_600.jpg.cmsVictor Davis Hanson made the decisive comment on the Obama response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech yesterday, back on February 10, almost a month before the speech was delivered.

Snark is a popular word used for a particular sort of off-putting sarcasm. Snarkiness can manifest itself as adolescent cheap shots, snide condescension, or simple ad hominem patronizing — a sort of “I know you are, but what am I?” schoolyard name-calling. Its incessant use is typically connected with a peevishness born out of juvenile insecurity, and sometimes fed by an embarrassing envy.

Israel’s Prime Minister was eloquent, moving, determined, and humble. He expressed his gratitude to America, and to President Obama for his aid to Israel. He delivered a detailed indictment of both Iran’s intentions and the sellout deal that the Obama administration is drafting in Geneva.

Obama had done everything in his power to cancel, delay and undermine the speech before it was delivered, including putting out the idea that the Netanyahu appearance was somehow “disrespectful” to the president, and had offended by ignoring the customary protocol between nations. The White House was carefully notified before the Prime Minister accepted the Congressional invitation, and there was nothing disrespectful about his appearance. He emphasized the close relations between the two nations and his gratitude for all that America has done for Israel.

After the speech President Obama, in an arranged photo-op, spent eleven minutes claiming that he didn’t even watch the address, though apparently Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei did, and then Obama snarkily added that “there was nothing new in it” anyway.

It’s too bad that Obama didn’t listen. This was the third time that Mr. Netanyahu had addressed Congress, a record shared only with Winston Churchill, whom Obama didn’t like either. The Prime Minister was interrupted with thunderous applause some 40 times. Extra folding chairs were set up in the chamber to accommodate the overflow crowd. Thanks to administration pettiness, the speech drew intense international interest, and was broadcast around the globe. It was an historic speech.

Our two nations, Netanyahu said, share” the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope.”He traced Iran’s history since the revolution in 1979:” America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad. And as states collapse across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s speech may make the Iran deal a tougher sell for Obama. The President was hoping to slip it in under the claim that it was not “a treaty” but merely a minor deal that didn’t require Congressional approval, so wouldn’t be presented to Congress. He is really going way too far with this executive order stuff. It is not just about him — its about the safety of America and of Israel. Iran is not going to notify anyone that they have completed their search for a bomb. Israel and Washington D.C. will just be smoking holes in the ground. It’s not about Obama’s “legacy” — it’s about survival.

If you didn’t watch the speech, take the time to watch it now or again. Or read the transcript. It was a stirring, historic, and thought provoking address that will enter the catalog of the world’s great speeches.



Wars Are to Be Won. Enemies are to be Destroyed, Not Merely Admonished by The Elephant's Child

Poor Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman, has been endlessly held up to ridicule for her statement that “We cannot win this war by killing them.” She was simply repeating the direction of the State Department. But of course we can kill our way to victory. That’s what wars are all about.  Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish, thought so too. I thought it was funny, but Mr. Greenfield appropriately took it more seriously as a long time misdirection of the progressive mind, in a piece titled “We Can Kill Our Way to Victory”
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“We can not win this war by killing them,” Marie Harf said on MSNBC.

 Reversing thousands of years of battlefield experience in which wars were won by “killing them”, the State Department spokeswoman argued that you can’t defeat ISIS by killing its fighters.

“We can not kill our way out of this war,” she said. “We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it is lack of opportunity for jobs.”

War is one of the few things in life we can reliably kill our way out of. The United States has had a great track record of killing our way out of wars. We killed our way out of WW1. We killed our way out of WW2. The problem began when we stopped trying to kill our way out of wars and started trying to hug our way out of wars instead. Progressive academics added war to economics, terrorism and the climate in the list of subjects they did not understand and wanted to make certain that no one else was allowed to understand. Because the solution to war is so obvious that no progressive could possibly think of it.

Harf’s argument is a familiar one. There was a time when progressive reformers had convinced politicians that we couldn’t arrest, shoot, imprison or execute our way out of crime.

We couldn’t stop crime by fighting crime. Instead the root causes of crime had to be addressed. The police became social workers and criminals overran entire cities. The public demanded action and a new wave of mayors got tough on crime. While the sociologists, social workers, activists and bleeding hearts wailed that it wouldn’t work, surprisingly locking up criminals did stop them from committing crimes.

It was a revelation almost as surprising as realizing that it does take a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. Addressing root causes won’t stop a killing spree in progress. (That’s another one of those things we can and do kill our way out of.)

But bad ideas are harder to kill than bad people. And stupid ideas are the hardest ideas of all to kill.

The same plan that failed to stop street gangs and drug dealers has been deployed to defeat ISIS. Heading it up are progressives who don’t believe that killing the enemy wins wars.

General Patton told the Third Army, “The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed.” That kind of thinking is passé. General McChrystal, Obama’s favorite commander (before he had to be purged for insulting Obama) had a much better plan.

“We will not win based on the number of Taliban we kill,” he said. “We must avoid the trap of winning tactical victories—but suffering strategic defeats—by causing civilian casualties or excessive damage and thus alienating the people.”

Under Obama’s rotating shift of commanders, we avoided the trap of winning tactical victories. Instead of following Patton’s maxim, American casualties doubled. The Taliban struck closer to Kabul while US soldiers avoided engaging the enemy because they wouldn’t be given permission to attack unless the Taliban announced themselves openly while avoiding mosques or civilian buildings.

“We will not win simply by killing insurgents,” McChrystal had insisted. “We will help the Afghan people win by securing them, by protecting them from intimidation, violence and abuse.”

But we couldn’t protect the Afghan people without killing the Taliban. Civilian casualties caused by the United States fell 28 percent, but the Taliban more than made up for it by increasing their killing of civilians by 40 percent. Not only did we avoid the trap of a tactical victory, but we also suffered a strategic defeat. American soldiers couldn’t kill insurgents, protect civilians or even protect themselves. We’ve tried the McChrystal way and over 2,000 American soldiers came home in boxes from Afghanistan trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. Many more returned missing arms and legs. The Taliban poll badly among Afghans, but instead of hiring a PR expert to improve their image, a Pentagon report expects them to be encircling key cities by 2017.

Unlike our leaders, the Taliban are not worried about falling into the trap of winning tactical victories. They are big believers in killing their way to popularity. As ISIS and Boko Haram have demonstrated, winning by killing works better than trying to win by wars by winning polls.

Now the same whiz kids that looked for the root cause of the problem in Afghanistan by dumping money everywhere, including into companies linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, think that the way to beat ISIS is with unemployment centers and job training. Many of the ISIS Jihadists come from the social welfare paradises of Europe where there are more people employed to find the root causes of terrorism through welfare than there are people working to fight them. So far they haven’t had much luck either.                                  (continued below)
Continue reading



A Winning Strategy or A Seriously Stupid Sellout? by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-tankI want to talk a little about strategy. Do I have some expertise to share? I have sailed the world with the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (the 19th); served in the Revolution with Kenneth Roberts; and the Civil War with James McPherson; Martin Gilbert took me through the First World War and the Second; I witnessed the Rape of Nanking with Iris Chang; and starved in Leningrad with Harrison Salisbury, and Stalingrad with Anthony Beevor; but I have never been in the service and have no expertise at all.

Stephen Coughlin, a leading expert on national security, says that our foreign policy community is absolutely incoherent and has lost the ability to think. Government bureaucrats, he says, have become focused on fighting narratives consistent with a post-modern, politically correct worldview rather than the facts on the ground.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka holds a Chair in Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. He points out that President Obama’s three-day summit on violent extremism empowers ISIS, by emphasizing the real grievances the Muslim world has with the West, the danger of Islamophobia in the U.S. and the need for community outreach.

ISIS’ recruiting message ” is a story of Islam under attack by the West, a perpetual Holy War against the infidel until the House of Islam—Dar al Islaam—covers the world and all live under sharia in a new Caliphate. They are indoctrinating and training 5-year-olds in Islam and weapons.

Strategy 001: You don’t tell the enemy what you are going to do, nor just when you are going to do it. It is better to keep them guessing and surprise them. Why is this so hard to understand?

While successful military strategy in wartime often hinges on surprise, the U.S. military took an unconventional path Thursday in announcing a plan to wage an early spring campaign to try to drive ISIS forces from the key city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees the military coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq outlined the size and makeup of a force that the U.S. hopes will be ready for the offensive within five weeks at the earliest, as reported by Defense One and other news organizations.
They told them approximately when the attack would begin, the composition of the coalition’s attack force, what we’re doing to train the forces.
Unless you’re fooling – unless this is an elaborate feint – it’s not normal practice to warn somebody that you’re coming,” Gordon Adams, a military historian and analyst at American University, said. “This is a little bizarre, it seems to me.”
Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said she was mind-boggled at what the Pentagon has done. One of the officers speaking to the media revealed that one of the Pentagon’s training camps was located in Jordan, and Jordan had made it clear it wanted that information kept private. Jordan is furious. Gabbard has served in the Iraq war in a medical unit where she saw the cost of war.

When  you realize that you don’t know very much about a current threat. the response should be to study up. Put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter, and read and investigate. I don’t have any indication that anybody in the White House is actually doing that. They do have a narrative, and they are sticking to it.

Investors Business Daily offers “Know Thy Enemy: A Crash Course in Radical Islam” by Paul Sperry, in five short parts. It seems useful.




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