American Elephants


The United States of America’s Bad Neighbor Policy. by The Elephant's Child
August 31, 2009, 12:25 am
Filed under: Developing Nations, Foreign Policy, Latin America, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Honduran Flag

The U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be determined to be a “military coup.”  Last week the Obama-style Good Neighbor Policy announced that visa services for Honduran are suspended indefinitely, and that some $135 million in bilateral aid might be rescinded.

To recap a little recent history, Honduras has been quite aware of the tendency in Latin America for Presidents to suddenly get the ambition to convert their tenure into a more rewarding lifelong term.  Observing this, the Honduran people wrote into their Constitution, Article 249, which states that any president who tries for a second term automatically loses the privilege of his office.  Mr. Zelaya did attempt to secure a longer term with the help of his buddy Hugo Chavez (who has already declared himself Dictator for life), and the Supreme Court of Honduras ordered the Army to evict Mr. Zelaya from the country.

Back home, things have not been going well for President Obama. His approval ratings are tanking—according To Rasmussen, 42 percent strongly disapprove of his job performance, while only 32 percent strongly approve.  His SEIU thugs, ordered to be approving attendees at ObamaCare town halls, have been a little thuggish and exceeded their instructions.

The British released the Lockerbie bomber in return for an oil agreement with Libya, ignoring American concerns. Obama’s budget management has proved to be ephemeral, and the Congressional Budget Office says spending will reach 23 percent of GDP without the health care plan or the Waxman-Markey climate bill.

So with things going so badly, Mr. Obama doesn’t need another loss, particularly from a small Central American country that dares to defy  imperial orders from Washington.  Behind the scenes, the State Department has been putting intense pressure on Honduras to return Mr. Zelaya to power.  Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal says:

Mr. Obama apparently wants in on this leftie-fest.  He ran for president, in essence, against George W. Bush. Mr Bush was unpopular in socialist circles.  This administration wants to show that it can be cool with Mr. Chavez and friends.

There have been reports that U.S. officials have been calling Latin governments to demand that they support the U.S. position.  Prominent Hondurans complain that a State Department official has been pressuring the interim government to accept the return of Mr. Zelaya to power.  So in effect they are demanding that Honduras ignore their constitution and follow U.S. orders.  Threatening to use all U.S. power against a small, poor Latin Democracy is not exactly a way to be “cool.”

But then promoting Democracy doesn’t seem to be on President Obama’s agenda.



A Few Appropriate Words from Charles Krauthammer. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2009, 12:22 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Charles Krauthammer said something important last night, as he often does.  He spoke about Obama’s remarks as U.S. troops withdrew from Iraqi cities yesterday:

He referred to what we have achieved as a “sovereign, stable, self-reliant” Iraq.  He left out one word, and he left it out because it was a George Bush word —democracy.  That was a Bush idea — to implant a democracy in Iraq.

If we had wanted to have merely a sovereign, stable self-reliant Iraq, we could have chosen a Saddamist general to succeed Saddam after the war and gotten out.

It’s true that the democracy established here is a fragile one.  It’s still struggling, and we will argue for decades over whether it was worth the 4,000 American lives, as we still argue half a century later whether or not it was worth 36,000 lives to salvage a democracy in half of the Korean Peninsula.

Nonetheless, it [Iraq] is a democracy, and that’s what makes it unique and distinctive, and an amazing achievement in a sea of autocracies and dictatorships — having an effect, by example, on Lebanon, on the Gulf states, and even on Iran, where Iranians look to their west and see a country which is also Shiite, Arab, (which the Persians consider culturally inferior), and yet it has a democracy, it has elections, it has an Ayatollah Sistani who says the clerics ought to stay out of politics, and the Iranians are living under a sixth-century dictatorship run by mullahs.

So it’s a remarkable achievement, and we ought to emphasize what we have achieved in terms of democracy.

And it’s a pity that the president ignores that because the democratic nature of Iraq will establish the basis for a strategic alliance between America and Iraq in the future.

So well done, President Bush, and well done, U.S. troops.  You have accomplished wonders that seemed, for a time, impossible.   And well done, Mr. Krauthammer, for pointing it out so gracefully.



There is More Good News from Iraq. by The Elephant's Child

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq are at a 6 year low. Three Marines have been killed in combat since last August.  The Navy has not lost a member to combat since February of 2008.  The Air Force hasn’t had a combat death since last April.  In some weeks the number of non-combat deaths for U.S. troops has topped those killed in fighting.

Iraqis’ faith in government institutions has vastly improved.  84 percent of Iraqis feel good about their security, 78% feel positive about crime protection, and 74 percent are positive about their freedom of movement.  These figures come from an ABC News/BBC poll that documents the improvements in Iraq.

64 percent of Iraqis prefer Democracy as the political system for Iraq.  Only 14 percent prefer a strong leader and only slightly more, 16 percent would prefer an Islamic state.  George Bush was right.

A poll finding that was particularly interesting was that 53 percent of Iraqis say they “never” attend mosque, while another 11 percent attend “several times a year”.  This is certainly not what we have been led to believe

The people have confidence in the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army at 74 percent and 73 percent respectively. 61 percent have confidence in the National Government.  And Iraqis are optimistic about their future.  That is very, very nice to hear, and we wish them well.



The crisis in Georgia through the eyes of Michael Totten… by The Elephant's Child
August 21, 2008, 1:41 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Totten, independent journalist extraordinaire, reports from Tbilisi in Georgia, and describes the situation there. He describes a refugee crisis all over the country and especially in the capital. Schools have been transformed into refugee housing. Michael visited one of the schools and spoke to four women — Lia, Nana, Diana, and Maya — who had fled with their children from small villages near Gori.

“We left the cattle,” Lia said. “We left the house. We left everything and came on foot because to stay there was impossible”. Diana’s account: “They are burning the houses. From most of the houses they are taking everything. They are stealing everything, even such things as toothbrushes and toilets. They are taking the toilets. Imagine. They are taking broken refrigerators.” And Nana: “We are so heartbroken. I don’t know what to say or even think. Our whole lives we were working to save something , and one day we lost everything. Now I have to start everything from the very beginning.”

As always in his reporting, Michael gives a sense of immediacy to today’s events. Read the whole thing.




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