American Elephants


Victor Davis Hanson on Our Leverage with North Korea by The Elephant's Child

There has been a lot of misinformation about both getting out of the so-called Iran deal and getting into a new North Korean agreement. The two situations may be connected, but not in the way we are usually told.

Getting out of the Iran deal did not destroy trust in the U.S. government. Our departure from the deal does not mean that North Korea cannot reliably negotiate with America.

In 2015, the Iran deal was not approved as either a Senate-ratified treaty or a joint congressional resolution. Had the deal been a treaty, President Donald Trump could not have walked away from it so easily and with so little downside.

Former President Obama knew that he did not have majority congressional support for his initiative. Therefore, he desperately sought ways to circumvent the constitutionally directed authority of the Senate and redefine a treaty as a mere executive order

The rest of the article is here

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Here’s What Obama Had to Say About The Iran Deal Back Then by The Elephant's Child

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I was looking in an old notebook, and ran across a couple of quotes I had jotted down from President Obama about the Iran Deal: I won’t testify as to their accuracy, as it’s clear I was scribbling fast. I can hardly read my writing.

“It shows what we can accomplish when we lead from a position of strength, and a position of principle. When we unite the international community around a shared vision, and we resolve to solve problems peacefully.”

Well, that sounds like Obama, doesn’t it? I can’t remember who it was who described him as “a real good talker.”

“With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapons program, and Iran’s nuclear program will be under severe limits for many years.  Without a deal these pathways remain open, there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran could move closer to a nuclear bomb.”

Sounds like Obama alright. That worked out well.



President Trump Disposed of The Destructive Iran Deal by The Elephant's Child

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Everyone, by now, knows that President Trump blew up the Iran Deal. Do people understand that it was not a treaty? It was undertaken unilaterally. President Obama was never able to pull together any kind of consensus. There was no real accountability. Even as Iran was pushing one demand after another, a number of U.S. senators explained to the despots that such a deal could easily be scuttled. Nearly every Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016 promised to withdraw or renegotiate the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Obama likely didn’t believe the GOP would regain the presidency — and if it did, he probably couldn’t conceive of a situation where a president would dare back out of a non-proliferation agreement, however flawed. And, as many problems as I do have with Trump, I can’t imagine that any other Republican would have withstood the unrelenting political pressure that was likely exerted, not only from allies but also from business interests at home, either.

The President had the prerogative to walk away from the agreement at any time, whether or not Iran was found in violation of the IAEA. The Iran Deal did nothing to safeguard against the production of nuclear weapons. We even had to ask permission to inspect.

We also know that after Trump’s speech making the case for withdrawal, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani claimed that Iran would be “prepared for enrichment in the next weeks.” Which is a weird thing for a nation that has completely given up its desire to obtain nuclear weapons to say. Then again the idea that this agreement, as promised by so many in Obama administration, snuffed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions was absurd all along.

Iran is continuing to develop a ballistic missile program to deliver those weapons. The Boeing deal is off. The United States can reinstate sanctions, and we can target any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons. European nations will probably try to salvage the deal, as they have irons, so to speak, in the fire with profitable business to do with Iran.

Iran can come back to the table. The administration’s demands for a new agreement are wholly reasonable: Stop developing ballistic missiles that are meant to deliver nuclear weapons; Stop supporting terrorist groups around the Middle East that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies — in Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Yemen, etc; Stop publicly threatening our ally Israel with destruction; Stop threatening freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea; Stop fueling the civil war in Yemen; Stop cyberattacks on the United States; Stop kidnapping Americans.

Is there something unreasonable about that? People probably thought that those things were part of the deal. They weren’t.

We can now target Iranian aggression. No more pretenses. We can target Iran’s terror regime through economic means. We can support the human rights advocates in Iran, and maybe do something useful.

I don’t know that any other candidate could have withstood all the silly guff from the leftist media, who are far stronger in anti-Trumpism than in either common sense or history. Donald Trump just did a difficult, but very good thing.

 



The Iran Deal: What it Is and What it Isn’t by The Elephant's Child

Confusion reigns over every mention of the “Iran Deal.” And it is back in the news and at a moment in time when confusion over every tiny thing about the Trump administration, not to mention the large things, seems to set off what might be called a panic attack in the Democrats. Any ability to talk about such things calmly and seriously has gone by the wayside. It’s some kind of contagious dementia.

Iran is not a friendly Middle Eastern country. They support most of the worlds terrorism and terrorists, are attempting to become a nuclear power, are making trouble wherever they can in the Middle East and elsewhere, and generally fall in the category of bad guys. Very bad guys.

The Obama administration signed a nuclear deal with Iran. It is not a treaty, but just an informal deal to relieve sanctions on Iran if they stop trying to get nuclear weapons. They are supposed to get inspections to see if they are doing what they claim, but that isn’t happening, and everybody’s worried about what will happen, what the Trump administration will do, what can be done or not done. All is confusion.

Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at AEI on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Middle East and Terrorism in general, has spelled out the facts of the deal and attempted to alleviate the confusion so we have some understanding among the reports from the media, most of whom don’t seem to understand any more than we do.

Do read the whole thing, or better yet print it out or save it. This is going to be a major bone of contention for some time yet, and the Democrats are off the tracks, partly because it was an Obama effort, partly because they are quite sure that Trump is starting a new war, or is too irrational to do the right thing, or is anxious to start something or who knows what catastrophe the evil Trump will devise.  In other words, we need to know what they are talking about. Knowing what they are talking about is the best defense.



Look What I Found in Today’s News! by The Elephant's Child

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From today’s international news:

Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy surveillance aircraft flying close to Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf over the weekend, the latest in a series of recent provocations between Iran and the US military in the region, three US defense officials with knowledge of the incident told Fox News.

On Sept. 10, a Navy P-8 Poseidon with a crew of nine and an EP-3 Eries with a crew of roughly 24, were flying a reconnaissance mission 13 miles off the coast of Iran, through the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, according to officials who call the boundary Iran’s “black line.”Iran’s territorial waters—like all nations–extend 12 miles into the sea, according to international maritime law.

At some point during the flight, the Iranian military warned the two aircraft to change course or risk getting shot down.

From The Associated Pres via Popular Mechanics:

“Iran is Building a New Nuclear Power Plant”
It’s the country’s first new construction of this kind since signing the nuclear deal last year.

Iran began building its second nuclear power plant with Russian help on Saturday, the first such project since last year’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

The project in the southern port city of Bushehr will eventually include two power plants expected to go online in 10 years. Construction on the second plant is set to begin in 2018. The entire project will cost more than $8.5 billion, with each plant producing 1,057 megawatts of electricity.

So apparently Obama’s Iran Deal is just going swimmingly.

At American Thinker, Daniel John Sobieski reported on the fact:

Almost as soon as he took office, President Obama began a military purge not dissimilar to those routinely conducted by third-world despots, with the goal of eliminating voices that might oppose his withdrawing America from the world stage.  As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:

We recognize President Obama is the commander-in-chief and that throughout history presidents from Lincoln to Truman have seen fit to remove military commanders they view as inadequate or insubordinate. Turnover in the military ranks is normal, and in these times of sequestration and budget cuts the numbers are expected to tick up as force levels shrink and missions change.

Yet what has happened to our officer corps since President Obama took office is viewed in many quarters as unprecedented, baffling and even harmful to our national security posture. We have commented on some of the higher profile cases, such as Gen. Carter Ham. He was relieved as head of U.S. Africa Command after only a year and a half because he disagreed with orders not to mount a rescue mission in response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi.

The list goes on of outstanding officers asked to leave before what would normally be their expected tenure.

I have no current connections in the military, so I can’t speak to the clear meaning of all this, but I do remember my history, and Iran has been at war with us since 1979. And I have never been able to understand the Iran Deal and what Obama thinks it will accomplish.

Unrelated? From the Daily Caller: “John Kerry’s State Department Funneled MILLIONS To His Daughter’s Nonprofit.”

More than $9 million of Department of State money has been funneled through the Peace Corps to a nonprofit foundation started and run by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.

The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.

Investors Business Daily had a few words to offer on that one.



Fooling the Public and Manipulating the Media by The Elephant's Child

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On May 5th, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser.  Mr. Rhodes “travels with the president, sees him all day long, and not only writes his speeches and communications strategies but also shapes the content of policy.”

The piece was titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age” by David Samuels. It was a revealing interview. Mr. Rhodes says he has a sort of mind-meld with the president. Much has been made of the fact that Rhodes was working on an M.F.A. in creative writing, and now he channels the president’s consciousness into an optimistic narrative that shapes the president’s foreign policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes is a storyteller who” uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal.”

His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

The revelations of how the campaign to sell the Iran Deal to the public was developed, and though planned from the first days of Obama’s presidency, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013 when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program.”

The president announced the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” Actually the meaningful part of negotiations with Iran took place in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the moderate group where chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There was never any new reality in Iran nor any moderate faction. With this one bold move, the administration would begin the process of a large- scale disengagement from the Middle East, which had always been Obama’s goal.

With the smug innocence of the morally superior, Mr. Rhodes revealed far too many truths about manipulating the media, his contempt for the press, and how he manages the flow of information. Since the actions of the Obama administration are obviously correct, selling the deal to Congress, and framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes strategy.

Guided by his moral superiority, Rhodes neglected to consider that the American people aren’t much on being deliberately lied to, and the media isn’t enthusiastic about being manipulated, and especially about that being publicly revealed.

Articles about Ben Rhodes, about the NYT Magazine piece, and about the lies in presenting the Iran Deal have been forthcoming in a steady flow from all over the world. Congress has invited Mr. Rhodes to come testify about his part in the episode and it is suggested that if he does not turn up voluntarily, he will be subpoenaed.



Obama’s Disastrous Iran Deal and Its Reverberations by The Elephant's Child

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Obama’s bizarre love affair with Iran continues: so writes Roger L. Simon at PJ Media. “In the last week or so, Obama has decided to ignore the putatively sanctioned Iranian missile tests—the ones with the “charming” admonitions for Israel to be wiped off the Earth emblasoned on the fuselage in Hebrew and Farsi—and seemingly agreed to the ayatollah’s demand that Iran should be allowed into our dollar system. A hundred and fifty billion evidently wasn’t enough.”

Iran clearly is continuing to do just as they choose, ignoring any sanctions, as if there was no ‘deal’. Congress has not agreed to any deal. Yet when Obama lightly criticizes Iran it comes across as absolutely bizarre — as advice to Iran on their business climate. “When they launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous.” It makes six million Israelis nervous too.

Congress  has not lifted U.S. sanctions on Iran. Keep that in mind. The President and the Secretary of State cannot make treaties on their own. The U.S. Constitution requires congressional approval for any such agreement.

European governments and industries are heading for Tehran to get a cut of the massive windfall that the end of international sanctions. Americans are largely sidelined. However, Obama has given Boeing special permission to do business with Iran. The administration hs been cutting back on defense spending. A new market would mean jobs and decreasing the trade deficit.

Obama believes that new business will improve the Iranian economy and benefit Iran’s people who had been suffering under sanctions. The Supreme Leader has no concern for Iran’s people but is only interested in destroying Israel and the United States. He says so, regularly. Obama believes, ignoring long years of evidence, that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, that they are people just like us who care about their people and their families.

Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If the carrots of engagement aren’t working, we must not be afraid to bring back the sticks. Recent half measures against Iran’s violations of the ballistic-missile ban are not enough. If the aggression continues, the U.S. and the global community should make clear that Iran will face the full range of sanctions and other steps still available under U.N. resolutions and in the nuclear deal itself.

Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region must stop. Until it does, our hope for a new Iran should not cloud the reality that the old Iran is very much still with us—as dangerous and as disruptive as ever.

“Congress is investigating whether the Obama administration misled lawmakers last summer about the extent of concessions granted to Iran under the nuclear deal, as well as if administration officials have been quietly rewriting the deal’s terms in the aftermath of the agreement, according to sources and a formal notice sent to the State Department. ”

“The concerns come after statements from top officials last week suggesting that Iran is set to receive greater weapons and sanctions relief, moves that the administration had promised Congress would never take place as White House officials promoted the deal last summer.”

The other wild card in the deal is the price of oil, which is running currently at about $37 a barrel — far below Iran’s break-even price. Obama will not give permission to bomb any oil field because of the environment.




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