American Elephants


Impressions From Last Night’s Debate by The Elephant's Child

20151219_blp903I mostly listened to the debate last night on the radio. My CNN connection kept going haywire, so I only saw a small bit on CNN. Apparently that makes a difference. Whatever their political viewpoint, viewers could not help but be impressed with the quality of the Republican field. The discussion was serious, well-informed and lengthy. The candidates were well informed on national security, and on how to deal with ISIS, Syria, Russia, Iran and domestic terrorism with real differences of opinion, which is as it should be.

Several pundits declared Donald Trump the debate winner, but I thought it was clear that he was just not prepared to go beyond his usual bombast. He did manage to tell the audience innumerable times that he was leading the polls, he had the highest approval, he was winning. He just doesn’t understand the very complicated situation, and has no strategy at all.   “I have 41% in the polls” is a brag, not a qualification.

Lindsey Graham was terrific in the earlier debate. He had just been to Iraq again, and spoke to the situation on the ground informed by the troops on the ground.

Carly Fiorina is clearly one of the best informed, and gives the most responsive and responsible answers to questions — yet has not really managed to break through to the top, where she belongs. Her tenure at HP was impressive. She handled some really difficult circumstances with courage, put the company on a path to success, and frankly has a better record of experience than most of the other candidates. I have wondered if , since Republicans are uniformly unimpressed with the “first woman to” idea, and invested in merit and qualifications just can’t get past the fact that candidates for President of the United States have always been men.

Chris Christie excels at tough-talking campaigning. He can be very assertive and very believable. John Kasich corrected from his angry, grumpy appearance at the last debate. Jeb Bush was better, but not breakthrough better.

I am far from picking a candidate, and in spite of the media’s insistence on making this all a horse race and proclaiming winners and losers, most Americans are just getting acquainted with the candidates. I was really enthusiastic at the beginning with so many governors who had real accomplishments in the running — but Scott Walker, Rick Perry and  Bobby Jindal have all dropped out. I am not enthusiastic about one-term senators. Been there, done that. And it didn’t work out well.

 



A Winning Strategy or A Seriously Stupid Sellout? by The Elephant's Child

ISIS-tankI want to talk a little about strategy. Do I have some expertise to share? I have sailed the world with the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (the 19th); served in the Revolution with Kenneth Roberts; and the Civil War with James McPherson; Martin Gilbert took me through the First World War and the Second; I witnessed the Rape of Nanking with Iris Chang; and starved in Leningrad with Harrison Salisbury, and Stalingrad with Anthony Beevor; but I have never been in the service and have no expertise at all.

Stephen Coughlin, a leading expert on national security, says that our foreign policy community is absolutely incoherent and has lost the ability to think. Government bureaucrats, he says, have become focused on fighting narratives consistent with a post-modern, politically correct worldview rather than the facts on the ground.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka holds a Chair in Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. He points out that President Obama’s three-day summit on violent extremism empowers ISIS, by emphasizing the real grievances the Muslim world has with the West, the danger of Islamophobia in the U.S. and the need for community outreach.

ISIS’ recruiting message ” is a story of Islam under attack by the West, a perpetual Holy War against the infidel until the House of Islam—Dar al Islaam—covers the world and all live under sharia in a new Caliphate. They are indoctrinating and training 5-year-olds in Islam and weapons.

Strategy 001: You don’t tell the enemy what you are going to do, nor just when you are going to do it. It is better to keep them guessing and surprise them. Why is this so hard to understand?

While successful military strategy in wartime often hinges on surprise, the U.S. military took an unconventional path Thursday in announcing a plan to wage an early spring campaign to try to drive ISIS forces from the key city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees the military coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq outlined the size and makeup of a force that the U.S. hopes will be ready for the offensive within five weeks at the earliest, as reported by Defense One and other news organizations.
They told them approximately when the attack would begin, the composition of the coalition’s attack force, what we’re doing to train the forces.
Unless you’re fooling – unless this is an elaborate feint – it’s not normal practice to warn somebody that you’re coming,” Gordon Adams, a military historian and analyst at American University, said. “This is a little bizarre, it seems to me.”
Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said she was mind-boggled at what the Pentagon has done. One of the officers speaking to the media revealed that one of the Pentagon’s training camps was located in Jordan, and Jordan had made it clear it wanted that information kept private. Jordan is furious. Gabbard has served in the Iraq war in a medical unit where she saw the cost of war.

When  you realize that you don’t know very much about a current threat. the response should be to study up. Put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter, and read and investigate. I don’t have any indication that anybody in the White House is actually doing that. They do have a narrative, and they are sticking to it.

Investors Business Daily offers “Know Thy Enemy: A Crash Course in Radical Islam” by Paul Sperry, in five short parts. It seems useful.



Just a “Natural” Reaction To a ‘Disgusting’ YouTube Video That Nobody Saw. by The Elephant's Child

Univision is a Spanish language channel. When President Obama was interviewed, campaigning for the Hispanic vote, his interviewers actually asked hard questions — unlike the mainstream media arm of the Obama campaign.  The White House has declared the War on Terror over, so it cannot be a terrorist attack. I wonder how his audience reacted to this steaming pile of self-serving blather. Embarrassing.

If you want straight talk, there are few people better to turn to than Ambassador John Bolton.”It is critical to [the Obama administration’s] worldview that the War on Terror is over.  There are no more terrorists.

Liz Cheney was interviewed at Newsmax TV:

“You’ve got Islamic extremism on the rise across North Africa. You’ve got al-Qaida resurgent in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula – and you talk to people in the Arab world and they’ll say, ‘America’s made itself irrelevant.’

“President Romney would not have made America irrelevant. He understands how important it is that we lead from a position of strength, which is something that President Obama has not done, has not attempted to do.

The president would like the American people to believe that the killing of Osama bin Laden sort of put an end to the threat that we face and, although we need to give him credit for ordering that operation –any American president would have ordered it – what we’ve seen is al-Qaida that is resurgent.

“When you look at what happens when America retreats, when you look of the pictures of a TV screen – and then you remember that when the president appeared in the Rose Garden 24 hours after our embassy was attacked, our flag was torn down, it was burned, the al-Qaida flag was hung in its place and the president said nothing about it. He didn’t comment at all. And today, you’re seeing the attacks on the embassy in Pakistan.

“This president sent a very clear message to radicals across the region that you can attack an American embassy and you won’t be condemned by Barack Obama.”

You must wonder why a 14 minute YouTube video that few were aware of caused a murderous attack in Benghazi, but Obama’s months of crowing about how he killed bin Laden had no effect at all. Wonder if they’ll still release the movie right before the election? Might seem unwise if the Muslim world is so enraged by a short video.




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