American Elephants

Other Voices. If You Don’t Understand History, You’re Apt to Make a Mess of The Present. by The Elephant's Child

It is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen…[but]when the situation was manageable it was neglected and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which might have affected a cure.

There is nothing new to the story. It is as old as [Rome]. It falls into that long dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong—these are features which constitute the endless repetition of history.
…..Winston Churchill:  Speech to House of Commons, May 2, 1935

American foreign policy is an unprecedented free fall with a feckless and distracted White House barely paying attention to the outside world, and when it does, acting in an inconsistent, weak, and fantastical manner. If one were to discern something so grand as an Obama Doctrine, it would read “Snub friends, coddle opponents, devalue American interests, seek consensus, and act unpredictability.
…………………………………………………………………………………..Daniel Pipes

A defeated army—now and always—must not merely surrender. Rather it and its infrastructure must be dismantled and its ideology disgraced. Lee gave in not because he was merely beaten—Gettysburg had done that months earlier—but only when his army was decimated, his cause lost, and his adherents embarrassed. Grant and Sherman accepted no less—and so gave us peace, not decades of terror and counterinsurgency. The firebrand Nathan Bedford Forest once promised unending resistance, but after what he’d seen in Tennessee and Georgia, thought it better to quit and go on home.
Victor Davis Hanson” “The More Things Change” National Review Online 12/30/01

The greatest possible ignorance of the past is thus the surest guarantee of the greatest possible deception in the present.
………………………………………….Jean François Revel: The Flight from Truth

Bush is actually doing the hard thing. He’s calling for real democracy in the Middle East. He’s aiming to make the long-standing U.S. policy of regime change in Iraq a reality. He actually wants to defeat Islamic terrorism, rather than make excuses for tolerating its cancerous growth. And when this amount of power is fueled by this amount of conviction.of course the world is aroused and upset.
What the world, after all, is afraid of is not the deposing of the monster, Saddam. What the world is afraid of is American hyper-power wielded by a man of very American faith and conviction and honesty. Bush’s manner grates. His style—like Reagan’s—offends. But, like Reagan, he is not an anomaly in American foreign policy—merely a vivid and determined representative of a deep and idealistic strain within it. And history shows that the world has far more to gain from the deployment of that power than by its withdrawal. If the poor people of Iraq know that lesson, what’s stopping the Europeans?
…………………..Andrew Sullivan “Spot the Difference,” Andrew

Here is the hard truth: that the world contains many cultures inured to tyranny from time out of mind. These are peoples who may long for freedom, but have no practical idea how it can be got and maintained; or if they know, no energy for the task.
…………..David Warren” “Democracy in Iraq,” David Warren Online, April 13, 2003

Iraq was the subject of the first Obama National Security Council meeting on January 21, 2009. The president said he wanted to draw down troops in a way that “preserves the positive security trends and protects U.S. personnel.” He asked for at least three options, one of which had to be his earlier sixteen-month timetable. …
In early February, ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Odierno submitted three options: (1) a twenty-three-month drawdown period, reducing U.S. forces to a residual training force level by December 2010, an option they recommended as offering the lowest level of risk and highest probability of achieving our objectives; 020 a nineteen-month drawdown, reaching the residual force level by August 2010, that would meet most but not all requirements for development of the Iraqi security forces; and (3) a sixteen-month-drawdown, which would be completed in May 2010, an option they said presented “extremely high risk” to overall mission accomplishment. Crocker and Odierno recommended a residual force of 50,000 to 55,000 troops, restructured into six advisory and assistance brigades, with the primary mission of training and advising Iraqi forces, deterring external threats, conducting counterrerrorism operations, and protecting themselves and U.S. civilians. As provided in the Strategic Framework Agreement with the Iraqis, all American forces would be out of their country by the end of December 2011.
…………………. Robert M. Gates: Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

The Democratic leadership was shocked not so much by the timetable but by the fact that some 50,000 troops would remain in Iraq until nearly the end of 2011. I was sitting across from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and thought she alternately looked like she had swallowed and entire lemon or was simply going to explode. She drummed her fingers on the table and had a white -knuckled grip on her pencil. She said she just could not understand why so many troops had to remain. …………………………………………..Robert M. Gates: Ibid


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