American Elephants


Man The Lifeboats, The Ship of State is Sinking by The Elephant's Child

Why Yemen Matters: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times 3/28/15

Last Thursday, the Middle East Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country of Yemen. And they didn’t bother to tell the White House what they were doing because they don’t trust them. Saudi and Egypt have been active in a Yemen war before, but on opposite sides. It is striking that they should join forces, not against Israel, but against Iran.

Uncertain of Obama, Arab States Gear Up for War: David Schenker and Gilad Wenig, Wall Street Journal, 3/29/15

“Few organizations boast a reputation of dysfunction comparable to the Arab League’s. Over seven decades the Arab League has distinguished itself through infighting and fecklessness. But now, with the Obama administration seen as missing in action in the Middle East, the alliance of 22 countries is undergoing a renaissance. Over the weekend, the Arab League met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and endorsed the creation of an intervention force to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Regional backing for the force came days after a mostly Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed, nominally Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, who last week sacked the provisional capital of Aden and drove Yemen President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.”

Obama Admin Threatens U. S. Allies for Disagreeing with Iran Nuke Deal: Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.”

Richard Engel: Military Officials Say Allies No Longer Trust  Us, Fear Intel Might Leak to Iran: Daniel Bassali, Free Beacon, 3/27/15

“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.

Obama’s Latest Concession Guts What’s Left of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jonathan Tobin, Contentions 3/26/15

“The Iranians were holding their ground on yet another key point in the negotiations and, to no one’s surprise, the Obama administration is preparing to give in to them again. This time the issue is Iran’s refusal to open its facilities up to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors eager to see how much progress they’ve made on military research for the nuclear program. But instead of threatening to walk away from a process that appears on track to ending sanctions on the Islamist regime over this key point, the administration is preparing to amend the current draft of the deal to allow the Iranians several years’ leeway before they’d be required to give a full reckoning about how close they are to a bomb. What this amounts to is the West waving the white flag on effective verification of Iran’s nuclear activities. And that means that not only will Iran be able to cheat their way to a bomb, but they may very well get there even while observing the agreement that is expected to be finalized by the end of the month.”

Free Fall in the Middle East: Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, 3/27/15

“But as President Ahab glances around his deck, few of his shipmates are manning their posts—in fact, most seem to be scrambling for the lifeboats. Oh well, there’s always that trusty tar, Unnamed State Department Official, to rely on for a friendly quote in Politico:

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view. […] We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this. The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”…

James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, cuts through the commentary on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a certain pithiness:”

“We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”



Reality Strikes! No Detainees to Yemen Just Now. by The Elephant's Child
January 5, 2010, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has told reporters that the administration “will not” send Guantanamo detainees to Yemen for the time being.

“We’re not going to make transfers to a country like Yemen that they’re not capable of handling” detainees, Gibbs told reporters.  “The determination has been made that right now any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea.

Gibbs otherwise continued with the message, saying that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used Guantanamo “as a tool” and that the administration remains “committed to closing the detention facility.”

Hopefully the Guantanamo-to-Yemen express will be closed down a little longer than the embassy was.



Can We Have a Little Clear Thinking Here Please? by The Elephant's Child
January 5, 2010, 1:22 am
Filed under: Islam, Military, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , , ,

Just an observation.  We are a nation at war.  It is not a bunch of separate wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and so on.  It’s not an “overseas contingency operation,”and their actions are not “man-caused disasters.”   To claim that the war in Afghanistan is a “good war” and the war in Iraq was a “bad war” shows a lack of understanding of either effort.

We call it the War on Terror.  Terror is their chosen weapon.  We have no trouble referring to the air war or the submarine war. Prissy complaints about language are out-of-place.

They want to kill Americans because we will not submit to Islam.



The Terrorists have Declared War on Us, They Have Told Us So, Over and Over. by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2009, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Law, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

There have been 28 foiled attacks on the United States since 2001.  There have been 12 terrorist incidents just this year, the most in any one year,  and the attack by Nidal Malik Hassan was not stopped, or not stopped in time.  He killed a dozen of his fellow soldiers and wounded twenty more.  There was ample evidence that Major Hassan was some one to be concerned about, but the evidence was ignored.

Umar Abdul Mutallab has told his FBI captors that there are far more trained al Qaeda members in Yemen, ready to attack us again.  Perhaps we should pay attention.

Some young men were recruited here to attack abroad.  The “system” has failed over and over.  The government has shown that it is not very serious.  It only reluctantly and recently has managed to say the words “war on terror.”

Umar’s Abdul Mutallab’s name was on a list, but the fact that his own father had made the effort to go to an American Embassy to warn that he should be considered dangerous to the US, was ticked off as insignificant since there was no “confirmation.”

There are, the spokesmen say,  so many names on the watch lists.  As a reader commented in the Corner at NRO, he can swipe his credit card at any retailer and it can be authorized in seconds, distinguishing that card from millions of others, but we cannot identify those who are supposedly on the ‘no-fly’ list?

Jennifer Rubin called attention to the language employed by the president to describe an act of terrorism against the United States.

On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft.

Allegedly. Suspect. Charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. One would use the same language to describe a suspect who stole a car, not someone who — but for a little bad luck and a courageous passenger from Amsterdam — would not have “attempted” to destroy an airplane, but blown himself and nearly 300 passengers and crew to bits of flesh and bone that could only have been sorted out by DNA evidence, as one of the passengers put it.

The young Nigerian was trained and outfitted in Yemen by at least two former detainees from Guantanamo who were released and have returned to Yemen’s al Qaeda training camps.  President Obama is planning to release another 60 Gitmo detainees to return to Yemen.  Is it a good idea to send dangerous detainees to a country hosting al Qaeda?  A country with a weak and ineffective government? Perhaps Mr. Obama will rethink that one.

Jennifer Rubin quoted a Georgetown University terrorism expert:  “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” And an observation from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association was the smartest comment: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers… Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.”

Political correctness demands that looking for bad people cannot be done. It might offend.  It might be perceived as “racial profiling,” and that would be far worse than blowing several hundred people to bits.

We may be engaged in an “overseas contingency operation” and afflicted with “man-caused disasters,” but the Islamist jihadists have declared war on us. They have told us so over and over.  Somehow the administration needs to come to terms with that fact, for fact it is.  Bringing  jihadists to a prison in Illinois is not just a boon to the Illinois economy.  Trying one of the world’s worst terrorists in a show trial in New York with all the consequences that could entail is foolish beyond measure.  There are worse things than admitting that you have been mistaken.



The Secretary of Homeland Security in Full Politically-Correct “Man-Caused-Disaster” Mode. by The Elephant's Child

The U.K. Telegraph had no trouble in getting directly to the point:  “Detroit terror attack is a major intelligence and security failure:  The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to trigger his  home-made incendiary device on board a US airliner represents an intelligence and security failure of staggering proportions.” The American media pussyfooted around a bit more.  The Secretary of Homeland Security was in full nothing-to-see-here-and everybody-is-perfectly-safe mode.

“The system worked,” Ms. Napolitano said. “Everybody played an important role here.  The passengers and crew took appropriate action.”  Well no, the system didn’t work. The suspect’s father had warned the U.S. Embassy that his son was dangerously radicalized, but the son did not get put on the watch list for flights into the United States because there was “insufficient derogatory information available ” to include him.  It would seem that a warning from a father would be sufficient for most anything, but we are talking about “man-caused disasters” here, not “terrorism.”

“The passengers and crew took appropriate action.” Thank goodness that we can depend on courageous film producers from Amsterdam, because we cannot depend on watch lists, or airline boarding security, or air marshals. Residents of Amsterdam have had a little closer relation to Islamist man-caused disasters.

Liberals have had a difficult relationship to terrorism. They have preferred to believe that there was no terrorism but only Republicans trying to scare everyone, that those who performed terrorist acts were poor abused minorities — not the sons of prominent and well-to-do bankers attending college in England.  So we have “overseas contingency operations,” and 9/11 was a one-off disaster, but terrorism is something that mostly happens somewhere else and blows up other folks, not our people and not here.  So the murderous major at Fort Hood was suffering from post-traumatic-stress acquired from those he counseled rather than any stress of his own, but he was certainly not a terrorist.

The Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit by a Nigerian student, trained in Yemen, makes the 28th foiled terror plot against the United States since 9/11. I do believe that there are a lot of hardworking people out there trying to protect us; and that we’re not entirely dependent on the ineptitude of terrorists.

The first instinct at the White House is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Do note the word “criminal” in referring to the investigation.  The Islamists have often declared that they are at war with us, but we keep investigating criminal acts like liquor store holdups or breaking and entering.  Failure to accurately describe situations prevents their solution.  Since there is evidence that the Nigerian student as well as Major Hasan Nidal were radicalized by Yemeni al Qaeda associates, it makes Obama’s plan to release some 60 Gitmo detainees to Yemen a little dicey.

A little clear thinking and a little less inclination to avoid any possible blame would be very welcome.  Responsibility and backbone, perhaps.




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