American Elephants


There are Serious People in Congress Who Do Have Serious Discussions. This One’s Worth Your Time. by The Elephant's Child
February 5, 2010, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Here’s a very interesting conversation led by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Nice to see some serious discussion in Congress about the serious matters we send them there to discuss.

(h/t: The Corner, NRO)



Furious Protests Continue In All Major Cities in Iran. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Islam | Tags: , , ,

Michael Ledeen explains what is happening in Iran right now.  Krauthammer is right.  This is one of the hinges of history.

From Deutsche Wellle:

In a strong statement to the press on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the actions of Iran’s state security services “unacceptable.”

She called on them to “avoid any further escalation of the violence and to pursue political dialogue to peacefully settle internally disputed matters,” and also to respect their commitment to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to peaceful protest.

At least eight people were killed in street clashes in Tehran when police and Basij militia members confronted protest marchers who were attempting to gather at a number of central squares. Sunday’s protests took place on Ashura, a Shiite Islamic holy day devoted to honoring martyrs, often through street marches.

Violent response

According to opposition sources, security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to try to get the marchers to disperse.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized Iran’s tactics as “brutal,” and said that the international community “would be watching, not looking away.”

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Bernard Valero, said his country again expressed “deep concern,” and “condemns the arbitrary arrests and violence carried out against ordinary protesters.”

He added that intensification of repression “would lead nowhere.”

The Italian foreign ministry, meanwhile, warned the Islamic republic that “safeguarding human lives is a fundamental value which must be defended everywhere and in every circumstance.”

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer made a statement on violence in Iran:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and, as President Obama said in Oslo, it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

An article by Nile Gardner, Washington-based foreign affairs analyst for the U.K. Telegraph, was headlined “Iranian protesters are dying for freedom — where is Barack Obama?

Here is a video from Iran. It’s hard to watch, but it has a happy ending. The death toll has risen to 15 18.


(h/t: Ace of Spades)



“Smart Power” in Action: by American Elephant
November 30, 2009, 4:14 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, News, Politics | Tags: ,

Iran announces huge nuclear expansion:

Iran’s Government today announced plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants and said work would start within two months.

Each site will be the size of the existing Natanz plant with the aim of producing between 250-300 tonnes of uranium a year. [read more]

More of  the “change” conservatives tried to warn people that Obama would bring.



Gravitas. Dick Cheney Speaks at the Center for Security Policy. by The Elephant's Child

Vice President Cheney gave a speech last night at the Center for Security Policy.  Once again, he proved why he is probably the most consequential vice president in the Nation’s history.

An excerpt from the speech:

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire – and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

A full transcript of the speech is available here.




Oh By All Means, Let’s Have a Meaningful Dialogue! by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, September 23— President Obama speaks to the United Nations General Assembly. He says “if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards…then they must be held accountable.  The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.”

Thursday, September 24— President Obama chaired a session of the U.N. Security Council.  When the Security Council passed a new resolution which never mentions Iran or North Korea, Obama pounded his gavel and proclaimed: “The resolution we passed today will also strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  We have made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and the responsibility to respond to violations to this treaty.  We’ve made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and responsibility to determine and respond as necessary when violations of this treaty threaten international peace and security.  That includes full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea.  Let me be clear.  This is not about singling out individual nations….[W]e must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.”

Friday, September 25— Speaking to the G-20 in Pittsburgh, President Obama admitted that “yesterday in Vienna, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France presented detailed evidence to the IAEA demonstrating that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years….The existence of this facility underscores Iran’s continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions…Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime…[T]he size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.  Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow… [and is; threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.”

So when President Obama spoke to the General Assembly and the Security Council, he already knew that Iran’s latest violations of “international standards”  endangered peace, but he refused to put Iran on the agenda of the Security Council summit. So he made a perfectly useless speech, and got a perfectly useless resolution.

As a matter of fact, the president has known since last fall, before he was inaugurated that Iran had another facility at Qom. He knew when Iranians  took to the streets to protest an illegitimate election, and he refused to offer any encouraging words.  The demonstrations continue, but words in favor of liberty have not been forthcoming.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France [France!] in the U.N.’s translation from the French said…“President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons.  Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment.  Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions… I support America’s extended hand.  But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community  Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges.  And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping of the map a Member of the United Nations.

As Jules Crittenden said: “It’s a sad state of affairs when a Frenchman mocks an American president and you have to go with the frog.”

From his statement on Friday, Obama said: “The size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.” Gosh! You think?

The regime in Iran is corrupt, willing to use terror as a weapon at home and abroad. It has demonstrated over and over that it will stop at nothing to acquire nuclear weapons, and that it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of the United States.

Lest you think that President Obama has no particular foreign policy beyond a mushy hope for “meaningful dialogue” maybe around December or so, that he is unconcerned about a nuclear holocaust, never fear.  He says that if the international community does not act swiftly to deal with climate change that “we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.”

“The security and stability of each nation and all peoples —  our prosperity, our health, and our safety — are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” But then the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental activist groups say the President’s speech didn’t go far enough, that it was an opportunity missed.

Well, it’s always especially nice when everybody has their priorities straight.That one degree of warming we had last century, back before 1998, was really worrying. Now that the climate’s been cooling for the last ten years we are facing “irreversible catastrophe”— but nuclear attacks — that’s so, so 20th century!



There’s More To “The Peace Process” Than Meets The Eye. by The Elephant's Child
May 19, 2009, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Israel, Middle East | Tags:


President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday for talks. Obama emphasized the famed “Two State Solution”, that has been suggested, pressured, insisted on for years and years. The pressure is all on Israel, since there really isn’t a Palestinian government with which to negotiate. It is split between Fatah and Hamas who are busy killing each other when they are not lobbing rockets into Israel. Fatah is weak and has no authority to negotiate, and Hamas is simply a terrorist enterprise invested in war.

For Israel and her neighbors the primary problem is Iran. Iran’s push for a nuclear arsenal, support for Hamas and Hezbollah and meddling in Iraq are threatening, and their interest is in curbing Iran’s power. Iran is threatening to foment Islamist unrest that threatens the governments in Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

For Washington, emphasis is on “the peace process.” Although Obama has great faith in “negotiations” with Iran, he suggested for the first time that those negotiations are not open-ended, and that “we’re not going to have talks forever.” But words, in the mouth of this president, often have changing meanings.

It is disappointing that Washington seems to have so little interest in the real problems.




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