American Elephants


For Some Reason I have The Housemartins’ “World’s on Fire” running through my head by American Elephant
January 28, 2011, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Music, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , , ,

Hmm. Wonder why.

At least Obama is on top of the situation!  Paper: “[events] moving too fast for Obama administration”.

Sigh. The country’s in the very best of hands. “Smart Power!”



Putting Things into Perspective. by The Elephant's Child

From Richard Fernandez, blogging at Pajamas Media:

With regional enemies challenging the new Iraqi government by sending car bombs against the police it is interesting to note that in many ways the upheavals are worse even closer to home.  Seventy two persons, perhaps illegal immigrants drawn by a border which politicians refuse to close, were found dead in a Mexican ranch close to the US border.

Things are much, much worse than Mexico in that socialist paradise Venezuela, which the NYT says is far more dangerous than Iraq.  So bad in fact that the government has ordered the newspapers not to report any more killings.

In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,544 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

Sometimes a few statistics help to put things in perspective.   It is a complicated, difficult world out there; and it is incumbent on us to struggle to understand what is going on.  A  job most of us have far too little time for.



Can We Have a Little Clear Thinking Here Please? by The Elephant's Child
January 5, 2010, 1:22 am
Filed under: Islam, Military, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , , ,

Just an observation.  We are a nation at war.  It is not a bunch of separate wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and so on.  It’s not an “overseas contingency operation,”and their actions are not “man-caused disasters.”   To claim that the war in Afghanistan is a “good war” and the war in Iraq was a “bad war” shows a lack of understanding of either effort.

We call it the War on Terror.  Terror is their chosen weapon.  We have no trouble referring to the air war or the submarine war. Prissy complaints about language are out-of-place.

They want to kill Americans because we will not submit to Islam.



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.



A Letter from General John Kelly, from Iraq. by The Elephant's Child

Michael Ledeen posted a letter, at National Review, from Marine General John Kelly which was sent to Blackfive after the recent Iraqi elections.

This is what everyone should see, and what President Obama should be celebrating — the incredible American victory in Iraq.  Kelly writes of Anbar Province, as Michael Ledeen says, “once the most dangerous province in the country, and now the most peaceful, thanks to the Marine Corps, the Army, and a lot of brave Iraqis.”General Kelly said:

I don’t suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good.  No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn’t happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today.  Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters.  No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100.  No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was the Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

Read the rest of the letter here.  It’s not long, but oh my, it is heartwarming.



What sounded good in the campaign doesn’t work so well in the White House. by The Elephant's Child
January 21, 2009, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, Military, Terrorism | Tags:

President Obama said on Tuesday that we would leave Iraq to the Iraqis.  The Obama White House website has apparently transferred all the campaign rhetoric directly from the campaign website to the White House.  The “permanent campaign” has begun.

The website brags that Obama, as an Illinois state senator, supported keeping Saddam Hussein, the ‘Butcher of Baghdad’ in control of Iraq.

Judgment You Can Trust

In 2002, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against going to war, and to warn of “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.” He and Joe Biden are fully committed to ending the war in Iraq.

A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal

Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.   Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq ending the war. …

This is just the same boilerplate that was posted on his campaign website, so he hasn’t taken the time to look into things a little further, or investigate the national security implications.  I guess they wanted the White House website to look “up-and-running” right off the bat.  There is really no big rush to make big declarations, and it would be very advisable to do a little studying of the situation as he settles into the job.  But then he announced during the campaign that even genocide was not a good enough reason to keep US troops in Iraq.

The Iraqi government told Obama today that by the way—legally Obama cannot withdraw US troops for one year after they are notified, and only after Iraqi officials agree to the withdrawal.

21/1/2009

BAGHDAD/ Aswat al-Iraq: Legal expert Tareq Harb on Wednesday said that new U.S. President Barack Obama can not withdraw his troops from Iraq before one year from notifying the Iraqi side, noting that he can withdraw the forces only if the Iraqi government agrees.

Commenting on Obama’s speech upon taking office, Harb said “the president vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq but he did not mention the articles of the agreement in this respect.””The agreement stipulates the withdrawal of troops in one year after notifying the Iraqi side,” he said, noting that the agreement does not allow the withdrawal before this period unless the Iraqi government agrees.

New U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the United States will leave Iraq to Iraqis.

In a speech upon taking office, Obama echoed key promises from his historic election campaign by saying:  “we will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people.”

It had seemed that Barack Obama was beginning to talk more sensibly about Iraq, but perhaps that is not the case. The frantic rush to seem to “take charge” from day one might be better postponed in favor of wise decisions.



A Very Happy Anniversary! by American Elephant
December 13, 2008, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History, Iraq, Military, News | Tags: , , ,

Five years ago today, Saddam Hussein was captured by US military forces nine miles south of his home town of Tikrit, hiding like a rat in a six- by-four foot hole in the ground.   The announcement (above) was met with jubilant cheers from Iraqi reporters, who leapt from their seats shouting,  “Death to Saddam!” and, “go to hell, Saddam!” Upon hearing the news, Iraqis took to the streets, dancing, honking their horns and firing  shots into the air in celebration.  And they celebrate today, in freedom and very hard-won stability.

War may be hell, but so was life under Saddam’s murderous tyranny. Today, both are over — the latter because of the former.

(h/t Hot Air)



A visit to Walter Reed… by The Elephant's Child
July 30, 2008, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Iraq, Military, News, Terrorism | Tags: , , , , ,

Barack Obama couldn’t find time to visit the troops at Landstuhl Hospital, which he blames on his desire not to use the troops as a campaign prop; and the military suggests that Obama lost interest when he found out he couldn’t take his campaign aides, advisers and camera crew. I report, you decide.

The wounded veterans at Walter Reed had a visit from Iraq’s interior minister Jawad Karim al-Bolani yesterday. He went to the hosptal’s Military Advanced Training Center and thanked U.S. troops for freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

We have come..to express our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these great warriors, soldiers, in freeing the Iraqi people and in helping us in Iraq recover from tyranny and dictatorship. We also want to express our gratitude to the families of all these great men and women and express how important their sacrifices are for our nation.

Nicely done, sir.



Not exactly a foreign policy you can believe in… by The Elephant's Child

There’s a perennially popular genre of literature which might be called “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”. Small children, in all innocence, give charming answers to questions because they know so little.

Another version is based on the answers that college students write on exam questions. These are more often hilarious in their utter stupidity. The entire genre is based on the fact that we, as educated adults, know the subject well, and they, groping for an answer to a question on which they are poorly informed, make silly mistakes. It is usually enough to remind any adult that a simple “I don’t know” is a wise answer.

There are degrees of knowing about any subject ranging from superficial to mastery, and those who reach true mastery recognize that there is always more to learn. But as the old saying goes: “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

Which brings me to Barack Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times.

The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

Must have seemed like a gift when some news reports claimed that Maliki had called for a timetable for removal of American troops. Obama’s insistence on removing troops was becoming increasingly untenable. He’d just removed all his previous statements on the surge from his website, assuming that voters were unfamiliar with Google.

Unfortunately, that’s not what Maliki said.

The BBC reports that in an audio recording of his speech he did not use the word “withdrawal”. Elections are coming, and Maliki’s speech was directed to that audience. Some Iraqis are anxious for us to leave: Some are fearful that we will not be patient enough with them to allow them enough time to learn how to be a democracy. A US official close to the talks with the Iraqi government said “the troops will leave when the Iraqis are ready to take over. …It is politics — how you package it, how you sell it to your people. They want our support, but they also want to show that there’s progress towards sovereignty.” Obama goes on:

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office.I would give the military a new mission; ending this war.

Sigh. If Obama had been paying attention and keeping informed, he would be aware of the recommended force reductions and mission shift broadcast by General Petraeus during his testimony to Congress in September of 2007. And he might be aware that all of the important benchmarks have been met.

In San Diego, Obama argued that “just because Sen. John McCain had made multiple visits to Iraq, that does not mean that he has the correct perspective on the region”. Well, at least McCain is well informed.

Obama also remarked earlier that he knew more about foreign policy than Senator McCain or George W. Bush because he had lived in Indonesia (from age 6 to age 10).

Obama is still trying to validate his big moment when he opposed the Iraq War while he was still in the Illinois legislature, which endears him to the anti-war crowd. He didn’t understand the reasons for going into Iraq. He didn’t understand the reasons for the surge. He doesn’t grasp the nature of Islamic jihad. And he has apparently never studied a map of the region. Along with announcing how many brigades he’s going to move around, he’s now attempting to push the tired old Democrat spin that the real war is only in Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden.

I find this endlessly fascinating. How do the Democrats do it? Do they all get together in a meeting and someone says — “I know, let’s say that the war isn’t in Iraq, that we’re really supposed to be chasing Osama in Afghanistan. I’ll bet we can get away with that.” Or perhaps they get a memo from MoveOn.org with the talking points, which they circulate, because they all say the same thing in the same words. Do they have rehearsals?

And how do they all manage to forget the same things at the same time?

Obama is going to great lengths to appear “presidential”. There are the sets designed to look like a presidential press conference, the array of flags in photographs, and of course, his “presidential seal” (quickly disposed of when it evoked more humor than awe). There’s the decision to deliver his acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver rather than at the convention site. Obama says he wants to give the common folk more “access” to the process. Uh huh. Visions of Leni Riefenstahl.  Do you think there will be torches?

And then a demand to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate like Presidents Kennedy and Reagan (he might wait until he’s actually a president, and it is usual for those things to be arranged quietly behind the scenes). German officials were not too keen on allowing their historic spot to be used as a prop for a candidate. It puts the German government in the awkward position of appearing to favor one candidate.

Obama’s now backed off on that, but seems unaware of the foreign policy gaffes he is making, or the problems he is creating. The rewriting of NAFTA created big problems with Mexico and Canada, opposing a free trade agreement with Columbia, invading Pakistan, the embarrassing Jerusalem gaffe all presented foreign policy problems that had to be soothed. And his pronouncements on getting out of Iraq aren’t going down too well in Europe.

On his upcoming trip abroad, he is making it clear that he isn’t going to Iraq or Afghanistan to learn, but to enhance his image. It’s (as usual) all about him. With a crew of star liberal TV anchors along to interview him at significant sites (looking presidential) he expects to raise his foreign policy qualifications. Oh, so that’s how it’s done.

Let me be clear. People may differ on the war. People may be opposed to the war, but if they are going to make pronouncements about the war, then they need to know what they are talking about. For Obama, this is a problem, and it is a problem for America. He does say the darnedest things, but it’s not funny.



Is The Iraq War Over? by The Elephant's Child

From Michael Yon, outstanding correspondent:

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What’s left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it’s time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over.

From Abe Greenwald, at Commentary’s blog, Contentions:

The corkscrew landing is a rite of passage for travelers to Iraq, who feel the pull of gravity as their airplane make a rapid, spiraling descent to avoid ground fire.

So it was a surprise to one periodic visitor last week when the Royal Jordanian Airlines aircraft from Amman descended into Baghdad International Airport with the same lack of drama as any commuter flight anywhere. No sudden plunge, no tight rotation, no straightening out the flight path just before the runway.

It didn’t feel like flying into a war zone anymore.

And another example:

Alcohol is openly for sale once more in Baghdad. All over the Iraqi capital, drink stores, which closed their doors in early 2006 when sectarian strife was raging, have slowly begin to reopen. Two years ago, al-Qa’ida militants were burning down liquor stores and shooting their owners. Now around Saadoun Street, in the centre of the city, at least 50 stores are advertising that they have alcohol for sale.

The fear of being seen drinking in public is also subsiding.,. Young men openly drink beer in some, if not all, streets. A favourite spot where drinkers traditionally gathered is al-Jadriya bridge, which has fine views up and down the Tigris river. Two years ago even serious drunks decided that boozing on the bridge was too dangerous. But in the past three months they have returned, a sign that militant gunmen no longer decide what people in Baghdad do at night.

An excerpt from a correspondent on active duty in Iraq on David Frum’s Diary at NRO:

Best experience of my life, even for the days when I was praying pretty hard.

Have a lot of folks over here that, believe me, will, I think, remember the US the way that (the immediate) post-war Germans and French remembered us.

Hope so, anyway. They’re good people. Been through quite a bit (understatement of the last three decades). Still, trying to work things out and I think (hope) they can and will.

Anecdotal, but indicative.



The Passing of the Spatula by American Elephant

Welcome Michelle Malkin and Ed Driscoll Readers!!

Mr. Good Judgment himself, the man in the bunny suit, also known as Senator John “I voted for the war before I voted against it” Kerry, yesterday reassured concerned Americans that he is still a world-class flip-flopper by declaring that the man he repeatedly begged to be his running mate lacks the judgment to be president.

Remember, this is the man whose service John McCain defended in the 2004 campaign.

Nonetheless, shilling for Barack Obama, the former Democrat presidential candidate, and eternal loser (who by the way served in Vietnam and has yet to release his full military records), said that John McCain, “has proven that he has been wrong about every judgment he’s made about the war.”

Oh really?

Back in the 2006 election cycle, when John Kerry, Barack Obama and the Democrat party were calling for an, up to then, undefined “change” in Iraq policy — which later turned out to mean unconditional surrender of Iraq to insurgents, terrorists and Iran — John McCain had long been supporting troop increases. A policy that Obama not only opposed, but insisted would never work. A policy that even the liberal press is being forced to admit, has been tremendously successful, and has turned out to be exactly the right strategic decision.

John McCain had exactly the right judgment. If we had followed Barack Obama’s “judgment,” the United States military would have cut and run, and Iraq today would be aflame with genocide and civil/regional war between insurgents, al Qaeda, former Ba’athists and Iran all vying for control of the world’s second largest oil supply.

It’s no wonder Obama has announced that he is “refining” his position. If he’s smart, he’ll go back to his 2004 position when he said he wouldn’t do anything differently than President Bush is doing — because President Bush, like John McCain, is right.

So, it is fitting that Mr. Kerry should be one of Obama’s biggest campaigners. The spatula has passed from one world-class flip-flopper to another. Indeed, not only does Obama seem absolutely determined to out-flop his political predecessor, but even before he has officially clinched the nomination it appears he has already done so.

It’s not just Iraq, although it is major, since the centerpiece of his campaign has been his supposed judgement on Iraq, opposition to the surge, and promises to immediately withdraw — it’s hard to find find an issue on which Obama hasn’t drastically contradicted himself. Some examples:

  1. Campaign Finance: Obama pledged, verbally and in writing, to take part in the federal campaign financing, that is until it became clear he was rolling in money. Then he claimed that the system, which has not changed since he made the pledge, was broken, and that he was going back on his promise because of as yet non-existent Republican 527 attack ads. In reality, the only attack ads thus far have been waged against McCain by the Democrat 527, MoveOn.org.
  2. NAFTA: During the primary, Obama appealed to his isolationist base by decrying NAFTA and promising, if necessary, unilateral renegotiation. It has since come out that his staff were simultaneously telling Canadian officials not to worry, that Obama was just playing politics and had no intention of following through. Indeed, he admitted as much in an interview, explaining that, “sometimes during campaigns rhetoric gets overheated and amplified.”
  3. Gay Marriage: Obama has claimed that he opposes gay marriage while his wife was simultaneously reassuring gay groups that her husband would repeal DOMA and opposed any federal measures to “discriminate” against gay relationships. Barack has since made clear that he supports the California Supreme Court’s decision, opposes citizen efforts to overturn it, and has come out in favor of full federal recognition of all legally recognized relationships.
  4. Second Amendment: This year Obama praises the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Washington DC gun ban unconstitutional: last year his campaign assured Democrat voters the Senator believed the ban was entirely constitutional. Just a few months ago he disparaged voters who “cling” to their guns.
  5. Wiretaps: Obama previously assured his deranged base that he would support any filibuster of attempts to protect telephone companies from lawsuits over their cooperation with the government’s warantless wiretaps. Now Obama defends the law congress just passed which does precisely that.
  6. Iran: Obama was widely criticized as naïve for his declaration that America should meet unconditionally with the leaders of Iran, including by Hillary Clinton and other members of his own party. Unsurprizingly, this is another position he has also “refined.” Indeed, the man whose judgment John Kerry extolls can’t even seem to make up his mind whether Iran poses a threat or not.
  7. Patriotism: Again pandering to his America-loathing base, Obama once refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel and disparaged those who did, claiming it was a “substitute for… true patriotism.” Now, not only is Obama not to be seen without his own “substitute” for patriotism prominently displayed on his chest, but routinely wraps himself in up to 40 American flags at once among other purportedly “patriotic” symbols of his own invention.
  8. His Reverend, mentor and spiritual adviser Jeremiah Wright: The Reverend and church he could no more denounce than he could denounce the black community? Obama denounced them.
  9. Special Interests: Obama often criticized both Hillary and John Edwards for taking money from unions which he described as “special interests.” But now that he is accepting union endorsements, and money, “He now refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of ‘working people’ and says he is ‘thrilled’ by their support.
  10. Cuba: Told Democrat voters in 2004 that it was time to end the Cuba embargo, but assured Cuban-Americans in Florida last August that he would not, “take off the embargo” because it is “an important inducement for change.”
  11. Illegal Immigration: Obama, I’m sure you are by now unfazed to hear, has said both that he would and would not “crack down” on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  12. Marijuana: The candidate for “change” has also changed his position on the criminalization of marijuana, telling college students he would support decriminalizing pot, and opposing the decriminalization of pot when confronted in a Democrat primary debate.
  13. Abortion: Contradicting his own 100% rating from NARAL, and his vote against the ban on partial birth abortion, Obama has softened, if only slightly, his position on abortion, declaring that “mental distress” shouldn’t count as an exception that would allow partial birth abortion. Well, I suppose he can always favor an exception for “severe mental distress,” since it is clear his campaign has become all about weasel words.

It’s becoming clear what Obama means when he promises “change”, its not political change — he is merely promising to change his position depending on what is most politically expedient for Barack Obama.

All this before the primary campaign has even officially begun! It’s no wonder Obama has Kerry out touting his “judgment”, he’s probably one of the few people on planet Earth that could do it with a straight, albeit very long, face.



God Love ‘Em… by American Elephant
June 23, 2008, 3:55 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Military, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

What do you think marines in Iraq do in their free time? No, try again. I guarantee you, it’s probably not what you’re thinking…

Hilarious!

UPDATE: More Marine music videos




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