American Elephants

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Remarks on Iran by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal, and the administration will continue to provide the relief from sanctions as called for by the agreement. He added that “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods.”

Today he explained more thoroughly and more specifically Iran’s role as a leading sponsor of terrorism. He made it abundantly clear that the nuclear deal is not satisfactory, and that the United States government is engaged in a very thorough review of our policies dealing with Iran.

Secretary Tillerson characterized the Iran deal as “another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions,” comparing it to North Korea. He said “we buy them off for a short period of time, and then someone has to deal with it later.” The current administration does not plan to follow that example.

Our policy is still being discussed, there is clearly sharp disagreement within the administration as to how to proceed. The Obama administration’s illusions have left it successors in a difficult position. There are no clear or good options, but we have in this new administration deep experience in dealing with such problems. Today’s tough speech is a good start, to let that part of the world know that there has been a significant change in the American posture. The grown-ups are now in charge.

The Planet Will Boil Over if Young Africans Are Allowed Cars by The Elephant's Child

President Obama speaking to young Africans, on his vacation trip to Africa.

A Strong America Makes the World Safer. by The Elephant's Child

Last night Bob Schieffer did a fine job of moderating and keeping the focus on the candidates.  Governor Romney came to the debate, opting for a strategy that demonstrated his familiarity with the problems of the world, his ability to focus on what is important, and remaining cool and confident.

Many of his supporters, incensed by the scandal of the administration’s bungling of the Benghazi attack, expected the governor to take him on, and were disappointed. Romney was absolutely clear on what it was all about. A successful foreign policy depends on a strong America, and a strong America depends on a strong economy.

The Obama campaign had made a great effort to portray Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch rich businessman who got rich by nefarious means, attempting to describe Bain Capital as some kind of corporate raider, and Romney as callous and uncaring. It’s true, he is rich. But the first debate where Obama seemed unprepared, contemptuous and snarky revealed a Mitt Romney who was completely different from the Obama team’s portrayal. Here was a businessman who believed his success at reviving and growing businesses, rescuing the Salt Lake Winter Olympics from scandal and financial crisis, and as a successful governor gave him the tools to successfully tackle an economy far too long in recession.

1. Obama has done a bad job of being president. The economy he inherited was indeed in deep trouble, but the recession he “inherited” from George W. Bush ended (officially) in June 2009. He simply did not have the skill set to address it, and had the wrong ideas about what to do. He also inherited a dangerous world, and failed to understand how to make it safe. The country is far from better off after four years. A president who cannot say the word “terrorism” does not clearly understand today’s world.

2. Mitt Romney, in person, was obviously not the scary fellow portrayed by the Obama campaign. He was a successful businessman who had learned a lot of lessons in 25 years of growing companies and creating jobs, and has sound ideas about how to restore the economy and create jobs. America has enormous wealth in energy, and out abundant supplies of cheap natural gas can fuel a resurgent economy. People saw a Romney that was not only what he appeared to be, but clearly someone who could do the job.

Obama clearly failed the first debate. Even the most ardent Obama supporters were dismayed. So in the second debate, the unfortunate Townhall format, Obama came back ready for battle, angry, snarky, aggressive, belligerent, with an attack still based on Democrat campaign ads that portray that out-of-touch rich fellow. Romney seemed presidential, focused, in command of facts and figures.

Last night, if Governor Romney seemed restrained, controlled and presidential, Obama seemed like the desperate challenger. He gazed steadily at Romney with what twitterers called “the death stare” and was snarky and condescending. The exchange about the Navy was telling. Obama tried to claim that the military doesn’t want or need the men and equipment that he is trying to eliminate. This is a flat-out lie. The Military is screaming bloody murder to the extent they can while still respecting the authority of the Commander in Chief.

Romney responded that Obama’s cuts to the Navy would take the Navy back to its state in 1916. Obama responded that the nature of the military had changed and we now had ships with flat surfaces that planes land on, and other kinds of ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines, and furthermore perhaps Romney didn’t realize that the military didn’t depend on horses and bayonets any more. Um, the Navy doesn’t call them ships, they call them boats, and the military in Afghanistan has depended on horses, and every Marine gets extensive training in bayonet use, because they are still needed in close combat. This was supposedly a good line for Obama according to his supporters who are a little fuzzy on things military, but it infuriated members of the military and veterans who were appalled by presidential misinformation.

Romney did tackle Obama on his “Apology Tour,” to which Obama responded that reporters would tell him that there was no apology. Well, yes the compliant media perhaps would. Obama’s apology for “dictating to other nations” drew the response from Governor Romney that “America does not dictate to other nations; America has freed other nations from dictators.”

Romney may not have been aggressive in the final debate, but he was presidential, clear and absolutely focused. He passed the Commander in Chief test.

It’s Not Arab Spring, It’s Fall, and We Don’t Know How It Will All Turn Out by The Elephant's Child

Arab Spring they called it, as if a million flowers of Democracy were about to bloom. Which was more the triumph of hope over reality. Ghaddafi is gone, but Libya has just announced that their new government would be Islamist in nature and follow Sharia law. And the first thing to be abolished would be the laws against polygamy.

The Arab states of North Africa were revolting against controlling dictatorships, and there were plenty of warnings that they may have not liked their ruling tyrants, but they also had no experience of Democracy. Tunisia had their first election yesterday and it was reportedly a clean, enthusiastic election.  Turnout was at 90%. The country adopted a proportional system during the transition that limits the ability of any party to hold too much power. If this remains as a check before new constitutions are adopted it will be a good thing.

The Islamist Nahda party claimed victory by a significant margin. The other main parties conceded. Nahda won about half the votes. Two secular parties did well, and one will probably join Nahda in a coalition. The new constitution is supposed to contain a bill of rights, divide government power, and protect minority rights. After the constitution is adopted, a new round of elections will be held in a year.

The country is one of the most modern and homogenous nations in the Arab world. The dictator Ben Ali family ran a mafia empire, yet today Ben Ali lives in exile in Saudi Arabia. It will take time — lots of time— to see how it will turn out, and it will take a better foreign policy on our part.

Obama’s foreign policy czars are gone. One by one, they have  disappeared. Obama’s appointment of the original czars was seen as a way of empowering hand-picked senior officials to instigate a transformational foreign policy without having to submit them to congress for confirmation. Obama’s focus on humility and apology in diplomatic engagement was supposed to be a sharp contrast to the “hard power” emphasis of the Bush administration:

 Now that none of them has achieved the diplomatic breakthroughs so naively expected by the newly elected Obama, ambitions have been reduced to not making things any worse—and even that may be difficult.

Barry Rubin has been reporting ever since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009 on Obama’s disastrous Middle East Policy. His column today is a review and summing up, in the wake of the Arab Spring debacle, of the Obama foreign policy. It’s not pretty. The now dominant view, he says is:

This interpretation considers the virtually sole danger to be al-Qaeda and its terrorist attacks against America. In order to ensure Islamists aren’t radicalized to behave that way, they want to co-opt radical Islamists they consider far less threatening. They insist that such Islamists are far less extreme than people like me say and that holding power will moderate them.

This travesty is born of Western ignorance about Islam and Islamism; discounting the power of ideology and the nature of these societies; assuming that everyone thinks alike in wanting more material goods; putting all their effort into stopping another September 11 (even at the expense of massive strategic losses); presuming moderation is inevitable, etc.

These people believe that the “Turkish model” is just fine and dandy rather than seeing it as an extremely dangerous way for radical Islamists to seize and hold power to carry out anti-American and aggressive goals. This misunderstanding is key to their failure to understand Arab politics or Islamism, as is the idea that Facebook, community-organizer yuppies are any match for jihadists.

I would urge you to read Barry Rubin’s post.  I think he is particularly well-informed and correct in his wide-ranging analysis.  This isn’t what you will be hearing from the mainstream media who no longer do much  searching analysis. If Obama says that bringing the troops home from Iraq by the end of the year is a diplomatic triumph and a praiseworthy event, that is what the MSM will report. We deserve better.

Michelle Bachmann on Israel by The Elephant's Child

Michelle Bachmann  has been a long-time and consistent supporter of the State of Israel.  It is refreshing to see an American politician, and presidential candidate, take a firm stand in supporting our allies.  These Republican women are a force to be reckoned with.  Brains, beauty, loyalty,  common sense and clarity.

(h/t: Powerline)

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