American Elephants


Did Obama Just Turn the Page on The Complications of the Middle East? by The Elephant's Child

The Saudi royal family are building a 600 mile barrier to fortify the northern frontier of the kingdom. The fence will have radar surveillance towers, command centers and guard posts aiming to protect the Saudi’s oil-rich kingdom from ISIS. There was a suicide bombing and gun attack a week ago which killed two Saudi border guards and their commanding officer. No group claimed responsibility but the attack in a remote desert area came from Iraq’s Anbar province. Relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia are reportedly deeply strained.

The fence will be built in five layers with razor wire fencing, then a razor wire pyramid, underground movement sensors, then another razor wire fence in top of sand bank, There will be 40 watchtowers equipped with radars and day and night cameras, 7 command and control towers, 18 communication towers and 32 military response stations, 240 rapid response vehicles and 10 surveillance vehicles, not to count patrolling aircraft. I think they mean business.

The capture of the Holy Mosques at Medina and Mecca is reported to be a key ISIS objective. Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi kingdom. The Royal government is Sunni and there is a significant Shiia minority.

The Wall Street Journal’s weekend interview with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal last November suggested that the Saudi royal family was not happy with the Obama administration’s approach to the Middle East. One of some three dozen living grandsons of the first Saudi King Abdulaziz, this prince is the Arab world’s richest businessman.

The Saudis are deeply concerned about Iran’s efforts to build their nuclear program. They have pre-emptively  condemned any agreement that does not dismantle Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and build a bomb. If Iran does go nuclear, Saudi Arabia would not be far behind. When the U.S. distanced itself from Egypt after the military coup, Russia offered Cairo arms and support.

Here at home, President Obama is “turning the page.” He is still bragging about departing from Iraq and Afghanistan without any sense of his own responsibility for the rise if ISIS. His response:

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Congress wants to get a little better information and has invited Bibi Netanyahu to speak to them. The White House is offended.



700 Civilians Killed In Just Two Days in Syria, but The News Is All About Gaza. by The Elephant's Child

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The outrage over Israel’s attempt to end Hamas’ rocket attacks on their civilians has brought demonstrations in Europe and even here. Hamas goes to great lengths to see that any news is slanted to favor Hamas, for to them any opportunity to discredit Israel or even cause them discomfort  is a triumph over a hated enemy. In other words, you cannot believe Hamas’ counts of civilian deaths or deaths of children. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

Hamas sees the death of its civilians as an advantage; Israel sees the death of its civilians as a disaster. Defensive missiles explode to save civilians in Israel; in Gaza, civilians are placed at risk of death to protect offensive missiles.

Hamas wins by losing lots of its people; Israel loses by losing a few of its own. Hamas digs tunnels in premodern fashion; Israel uses postmodern high technology to detect them. Hamas’s missiles usually prove ineffective; Israel’s bombs and missiles almost always hit their targets. Quiet Israeli officers lead from the front; loud Hamas leaders flee to the rear. Incompetency wins sympathy; expertise, disdain. …

Democracy and free markets bring Westerners liberty, human rights, and prosperity — but many Westerners scorn these things in Israel, siding with those who deny human rights, ruin their economy, and practice a brutal prejudice against women, gays, and non-Muslims. In Gaza, a gay reporter, a female reporter with bare arms, a reporter with a small crucifix around his neck, the rare journalist who, surrounded by screaming Hamas supporters, dares to broadcast the truth from Gaza — all these in private would admit to being in fear while they are in Gaza in a way they are not when in Israel.

More Muslims were killed in two days in Syria than in the entire Hamas/Gaza War. More than 700 people were killed in Syria over last Thursday and Friday in some of the bloodiest days in that conflict to date. Assad is taking advantage of a media environment in which most everything else is ignored to concentrate on Gaza. That’s what civilian casualties look like in a real war. In Gaza, residents are warned when the IDF is going to demolish a tunnel, they get leaflets telling them what parts of Gaza are perfectly safe. The IDF is not only not interested in killing civilians, they try desperately to avoid it, for they are only interested in destroying tunnels and missile bases. Hamas sends civilians to the sites that are going to be attacked to act as human shields, and if they are killed, Israel can be blamed.

According to Twitter and Google, an NBC journalist reported they had personally witnessed an Israeli drone attack and fire on a he main hospital in Gaza. The report was shortly completely scrubbed. Israelis say they have confirmed that the Gazan hospital was hit by rockets fired in Gaza by Hamas, not by Israel or an Israeli drone. I understand that Gaza has only the one major hospital, the one where Hamas  has it’s leadership’s bunker buried underneath the hospital. One hundred rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza.

Israel was celebrated by the left when it was represented by socialist kibbutzim, with happy workers tilling the fields. When it fought a war against the Arabs of the Middle East and won, they quit being celebrated. I have a hunch, which may be wrong, that the left is deeply influenced by words like “refugee camps,” “poverty,” “blockade,” ” border fence,”  and conversely odd ideas about the Jews controlling governments or industries.  Oddly, this time around, Israel is supported by Egypt and Jordan, and even the Fatah Palestinian faction that runs the West Bank want Hamas to become weaker.

The picture above is of a pleasant Syrian neighborhood.




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