American Elephants

How Do We Do a “No Confidence” Vote? by The Elephant's Child

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down on Thursday, and announced that he would not seek a third term. The administration considers this a diplomatic coup for the administration, which has worked behind the scenes in Baghdad for months to find a successor who could begin uniting Iraq’s ethnic and religious factions.

Ah, yes. “No victor, no vanquished” We mentioned that strategy. Now we will have a “more inclusive government.” A “negotiated settlement.” And who will bring the new Caliph to the table, and how many will get beheaded in the process?

The U.S. now faces the equally, if not more, difficult challenge of confronting the growing threat from Islamic State militants and promoting a functioning government in Baghdad. The increase in U.S. assistance isn’t expected to result in a major expansion of military operations in Iraq, though there could be selected increases.

Iraq’s parliament on Monday nominated Haider al-Abadi, another Shiite politician from Mr. Maliki’s al Dawa party, to be the next prime minister. He has 30 days to form a government.

U.S. officials said they are hopeful Mr. Abadi can do more to heal ties between Baghdad and Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish communities, which were badly strained during Mr. Maliki’s eight-year rule.

The military, and we have no idea how many of our people are there, are trying to make plans, but they have no authority nor intent to do much more than Obama’s very limited order. The Kurds are getting mortars and small arms. Drones destroyed 2 Islamic State armed vehicles. Experts on Iraq say any increased engagement by the U.S. will require a major makeover of the Iraqi military. Yes, images of ISIS herding long lines of captured soldiers into a ditch where they were then executed probably does have an effect on morale.

Inside the liberal bubble, everyone is really ready to go to the negotiating table.


Australia Has New Management! by The Elephant's Child

Abbott, Tony Australia

Australia has new management. Prime Minister Elect Tony Abbott has led the Conservative Coalition to a resounding victory. The Australian House of Representatives has 150 seats. Kevin Rudd’s Labor party got only 54 seats, 76 are needed for a majority. The Coalition won 87 seats, the Greens 1, and other 2, with the remainder still in play. A pretty resounding rejection of the Labor party and the hated carbon tax.

Mr. Abbott is a former boxer, a Rhodes scholar, and Catholic seminarian. He has promised to rein in government spending, scrap the hated tax on carbon emissions, and stop the flow of refugee boats arriving in Australia’s northwest. He also promised to keep his promises.

Labor dumped Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010, for Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, only to reinstate Rudd as leader in June of 2013 in a desperate bid to stay in power. Labor’s overall vote was the worst since 2004 when conservative prime minister won his fourth and final term. Abbott could end up with a majority of around 30 seats, ending the party’s first minority government since World War II.

Mr. Rudd had attempted to portray Abbott’s planned spending cuts as “dangerous European-style austerity” and said that Labor was best placed to manage an economy that while slowing, is still the envy of much of the developed world. Sounds familiar.

Congratulations to Mr. Abbott and to our friends Down Under

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