- - Thursday, March 5, 2015


When I was at CPAC last week, I had an interesting encounter with one young fellow who felt that military force was not necessary and we don’t need to have “boots on the ground” anywhere. As a matter of fact, he came up with a cute little diddy: “boots on the ground, get voted down”.

This young man inspired me to ponder something very critical: as the Islamic State and other militant Islamist groups are attracting young men and women into its ranks, will we honor the primary duty of the federal government? That duty is to “Provide for the Common Defense”. Sadly some believe the federal government’s primary responsibility is to “provide welfare”.

Why is addressing national security and offering solutions demonized in this declining global security environment? I speak from experience that when advocating for “peace through strength,” some castigate you as a warmonger or “neo-con”. And this is not just a moniker thrown about by the progressive leftists.

A quote attributed to Greek philosopher Plato states, “Only the dead have seen the end of war”.

And John Stuart Mill gave us this quote from Principles of Political Economy:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

I have dedicated my life and exertions to keep others free. It is inconceivable that in the face of such blatant evil as ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and others, belief in something worth fighting for, liberty, freedom, and civilized society, can be so disparaged. If we fail to examine sound principles to defend that in which we believe, as Mr. Mill stated, we are in a decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling.

I do not embrace the concept of nation-building. I do embrace the strategic military vision of relentless “strike operations”. I do not believe that the Islamic terrorist enemy needs its grievances heard or better jobs and opportunities – or that they need our empathy. We must accept its declared ideological position and delegitimize it by way of a dedicated information operations.

We must develop the means to diplomatically and economically isolate this enemy from its state sponsors. We must realize these non-state, non-uniform unlawful enemy combatants are not deserving of constitutional rights. Keeping them off the battlefield as long as they contend to war against us is not inhumane.

And yes, we must vanquish this enemy – recognizing they only comprehend strength and might. No more insidious rules of engagement; rather, unleash the full brunt of American – and allied – military power. This enemy must not be afforded sanctuary.

We must develop a 21 st century lethal and maneuverable force that can be simultaneously deployed across the multiple geographic areas of responsibility (PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM, CENTCOM, and NORTHCOM [as required}). This can be accomplished with a fiscally responsible force whose requirements are not driven by the budget but by the threat environment.

We should strive to be the citizen described by Theodore Roosevelt in his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech given in Sorbonne, France, April 23, 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The question I now have is who is the man or woman who will go into the arena?

Allen West is a former member of Congress, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who served as a battalion commander in Iraq, and is the President/CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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