American Elephants

No Gitmo Detainees to Trade For This Marine by The Elephant's Child


As President Obama said last week when he held a photo-op in the Rose Garden with the Bergdahl parents:

As I said earlier this week, we’re committed to winding down the war in Afghanistan, and we are committed to closing Gitmo.  But we also made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home.  That’s who we are as Americans.  It’s a profound obligation within our military, and today, at least in this instance, it’s a promise we’ve been able to keep.

I am mindful, though, that there are many troops who remain missing in the past.  That’s why we’re never going to forget; we’re never going to give up our search for servicemembers who remain unaccounted for.  We also remain deeply committed to securing the release of American citizens who are unjustly detained abroad and deserve to be reunited with their families, just like the Bergdahls soon will be.

It amazes me that our foreign relations with our close neighbor to the south are so poor that the U.S. Marine, Andrew Tahmooressi, has been held in Mexico for more than two months after taking a wrong turn at a confusing border crossing with registered guns in his car.  He was held for seven hours in custody, but without charges, at the border between San Ysidro, CA and Tijuana. According to Andrew he felt something was fishy when the military showed up and wanted to arrest him after customs officials were willing to accompany him back to the U.S. He felt there was an implied expectation of a bribe of some sort, but nothing was directly requested.

Extortion in such cases is not unusual. Help from our federal government has not been forthcoming, in spite of Mr. Obama’s deep commitment.


Unprepared for the Office to Which He Aspired. by The Elephant's Child

The Russian absorption of the Crimea seems to be a done deal. Obama is ordering sanctions, but apparently on the wrong people. One would think that they could at least sanction the bank accounts of people who would mind and do something about it. This is what Russia has been doing since the end of the Cold War— when it sees weakness and vacillation, they slide in.

The big problem is that our lack of understanding of how the world works, speaks loudly to the rest of the world. Putin, former KGB Colonel,  knows what he is doing and has a good idea about what he can get away with. Russia is a mess. Life expectancy is around 55. Their manufactured goods are only for home use, and are not competitive on the world market. What they do have is lots of oil and natural gas, which Europe, due to their romance with wind and solar, and fear of global warming, desperately needs. Europe can thus be blackmailed. They have relied for too long on an American superpower which they can no longer trust.

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama officially announced that he would abandon the Eastern European missile shield. The new man in the White House apparently felt that his “mandate” meant that he was free not only to break with the past, but to undo it.  No scruples about reneging on long-term commitments of his country when they interfered with his own plans. So he scrapped the treaties George W.Bush had signed with Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter countries were not exactly pleased.

“Catastrophic for Poland” a spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense said. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and founder of Solidarity observed with bitterness: “I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe. The way we are being approached needs to change.”Aleksander Szczyglo, the minister of defense at the time, told the press: “From the point of view of our interests, every U.S. soldier, every U.S. base on Polish territory, increases our security and binds us to the United States by a closer alliance.”

Continuity in international relations is essential. You just can’t jerk other countries around. The U.S. has historically respected it’s treaties, even those that the Senate did not ratify. We now have an administration unconstrained by preceding commitments. Nations whose good-faith gestures and risks are snubbed may have a very different view. Simply dumping treaty commitments may seem unimportant at the time, but it is the kind of thing that reverberates around the world affecting countries willingness to act in concert with us. Diplomacy by “reset button” damages our relations with everyone.

In a joint statement on December 4, 2009, the president of the United States, Barack Obama and the president of Russia, Dimitry Medvedev, confirmed the assurances of security to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus given on the heels of these countries consent in 1994 to give up their nuclear weapons. According to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, the signatories pledged to “Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders” and “Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.” The Russians ignored the memorandum, but one does not expect much of Russia. Apparently one does not expect much of the United States either.

Obama Resets Our Relations With The World! by The Elephant's Child

(This clip comes from Danish Broadcasting Corporation DR’s Detektor. The host is Thomas Buch-Anderson.)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told a state dinner given by the President of the United States in his honor this week, that Barack Obama has “pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world”

Mr. Cameron’s effusions were met with some scorn at home. British journalist Melanie Phillips summed up Mr. Obama’s “reset” of relations:

  • Neutered American power abroad and extended the reach of the state at home
  • Appeased Iran while dumping on its designated target of annihilation, Israel
  • Appeased the Palestinians while dumping on the state they vow to destroy, Israel
  • Given Iran time to bring its genocide nuclear bomb to fruition
  • Helped consolidate in power the repressive and murderous Iranian regime by ignoring the plight of its political dissidents, women, gays and other victims of Iranian state terror
  • Allowed Iran to become the regional hegemon, thus in turn pushing moderate Arab states into its arms
  • Empowered the fanatical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab world
  • Helped bring to power a regime in Egypt which is oppressive to its own people and hostile to Israel and the west
  • Helped bring to power a regime in Libya which is oppressive to its own people and hostile to Israel and the west
  • Stood by and done nothing while President Assad butchers untold thousands of Syrian citizens
  • Surrendered in Afghanistan
  • Abandoned Iraq to the enemies of the west
  • Downplayed Islamist aggression at home, eg by declaring the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, where an Islamist terrorist killed 13 American soldiers and wounded 29 more, ‘work place violence’ not a terrorist attack
  • Taken the side of Argentinian aggression against Britain over the Falkland Islands (at least until this week when he agreed to return to a neutral position)
  • Sought to deny freedom of religious conscience at home by forcing Catholics to sign up to abortion and contraception services (and his backtracking compromise was scarcely any better)
  • Attacked free enterprise, as in his blockage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, while ruinously increasing American debt through public spending designed to increase state power over people’s lives.

And that’s just one British journalist.

So Much for the Famous “Reset Button.” by The Elephant's Child
May 13, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Israel, Middle East | Tags: , , , ,

President Obama has rolled out the red carpet for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.   Mr. Obama has realized that he has offended Mr. Karzai, and is attempting to mend fences.  It was widely publicized that the administration hoped to see Mr. Karzai replaced — not exactly the way to make friends among national leaders.

Obama’s success on the campaign trail, with enthusiastic crowds and an adoring press, may have given him the illusion that he could sway national interests with his charm and mellow baritone voice. But nations have interests, and the particular interests of the American president don’t trump the interests of other countries.  Working together requires putting aside the arrogance and refraining from telling other people what to do. George W. Bush may have been unpopular in the streets, but his relations with national leaders were, for the most part, excellent.

Obama  has told us over and over that talks are the ultimate goal.  If he could just sit down and talk with the Mullahs of Iran, they surely would find areas of agreement.  The Mullahs have no interest in talks, they have never had any interest in talks.  It hasn’t worked.

President Obama’s relations with other national leaders are not good. He has made no friends.  An exception was supposed to be President Dimitry Medvedev of Russia. They got along famously, we were told, the agreement enhanced by Obama’s willingness to give up our missile defense in Eastern Europe.

Now we learn that Medvedev has paid a state visit to Syrian President Assad in Damascus that resulted in Moscow’s full endorsement of the Arab agenda against Israel, plus a direct Kremlin challenge to American Mideast diplomacy.

In a joint communiqué with Assad, Medvedev added his own Middle East plan, including 1.) Putting the blame for Mideast tensions on Israel, 2.) Demanding a complete Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, 3.) Demanding that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state, 4.) Endorsing Palestinian demands for a “right of return” — a formula for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.

Medvedev also offered nuclear plants to Syria. His next stop — Turkey to whom he has also offered a nuclear plant.

Obama has placed all his bets on getting his Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, to mediate indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The administration seems to be laboring under the illusion that the problems of the Middle East would go away, if Israel would just make peace with the Palestinians — whose stated goal is to “drive Israel into the sea.”

So much for the reset button, and so much for Obama’s role as the world historical figure who has brought peace to the troubled Middle East.  The Russian bear has other ideas, and they clearly involve a larger role in the Middle East.

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