American Elephants


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



Why Iraqis Back McCain by American Elephant

It’s clear that liberal effetes, appeasers and pacifists the world over think Obama would do a better job with Iraq. So do Iraq’s enemies. But Bret Stephens points out in The Wall Street Journal what I think is obvious: if you ask the people who are most invested in success in Iraq, who have the most to lose — the Iraqis themselves — they overhwhelmingly support John McCain:

Today, the governor speaks with a mixture of confidence and foreboding. He insists al Qaeda has been vanquished. But, he adds, “Iraq is in a strategic location and has huge resources. There are a lot of eyes on Iraq.” Later in the conversation, he makes his point more precisely. “Liberating Iraq is a very good dish. And now you are going to hand it over to Iran?”

…The Iraqis are even more incredulous about Mr. Obama’s willingness to negotiate with Iran, which they see as a predatory regime. “Do you Americans forget what the Iranians did to your embassy?” asks the governor. “Don’t you know that Ahmadinejad was one of [the hostage takers]?” 

…Throughout our interview, the men did not stop fingering their prayer beads, as if their future hinges on their ability to make their case to the American public. They’re right: It does. Which is why Iraq, all but alone among the nations, will be praying for a McCain victory on the first Tuesday in November.[read more]

It’s an important point. I encourage you to read the entire column.



Winning the War on ALL Fronts! by American Elephant

Reports from the Pentagon, CIA, the British, and corroborated by independent terrorism experts conclude that the United States military, under General David Petraeus and President Bush is winning the war on terror, and winning big:

Al Qaeda virtually defeated in Iraq, Saudi Arabia:

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda’s allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group’s core leadership. [read more]

Taliban in Afghanistan on brink of defeat:

Missions by special forces and air strikes by unmanned drones have “decapitated” the Taliban and brought the war in Afghanistan to a “tipping point”, the commander of British forces has said.

The new “precise, surgical” tactics have killed scores of insurgent leaders and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign, according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the “very effective targeted decapitation operations” that have removed “several echelons of commanders”. This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said. [read more]

US Troop Deaths in Iraq at All Time Low:

BAGHDAD, June 1 (Reuters) – U.S. troop deaths in Iraq fell to their lowest level last month since the 2003 invasion and officials said on Sunday improved security also helped the country boost oil production in May to a post-war high. [read more]

US-Backed Government and Army May be Winning the War:

THERE’S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks — which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington’s attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have “never been closer to defeat than they are now.”

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained “special groups” that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. [read more]

Bin Laden, Al Qaeda Losing Support Among Muslims:

Important Muslim thinkers, including some on whom bin Laden depended for support, have rejected his vision of jihad. Once sympathetic publics in the Middle East and South Asia are growing disillusioned. As CIA Director Michael Hayden said last week, “Fundamentally, no one really liked Al Qaeda’s vision of the future.” At the same time, and potentially much more important over the long run, a new vision of Islam, neither bin Laden’s nor that of the traditionalists who preceded him, is taking shape. Momentum is building within the Muslim world to re-examine what had seemed immutable tenets of the faith, to challenge what had been taken as literal truths and to open wide the doors of interpretation (ijtihad) that some schools of Islam tried to close centuries ago. [read more]

Let’s be sure to give credit where credit is due. This is all due to the hard work of our military men and women, to the strategy of General Petraeus and military leadership, and to the vision and steadfast leadership of President Bush, his administration, Republicans and the independant Joe Lieberman. Let’s also be clear, because President Bush will never say it, but this success is also very much despite the Democrats and their ceaseless efforts to sabotage the Commander in Chief and the war effort itself for political gain.




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