Photo: Al instructing Afghan Army Officers
I have asked one of my most valued warrior correspondents in Kandahar to write his observations from the war zone. I think the world of Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (bottom photo with the Afghan Army group of officers he instructes.) He represents the best, the very best of America. Here is the first in a series Column from Kandahar;
My dear friend Pamela at AtlasShrugs suggested that I put together a monthly assessment for the people on her blog site. I feel that those of us who are over here need to provide the best possible insights into our current conflagration. I hope to be able to do this monthly for y’all. (I am from Georgia.) And yes, for those of you who have heard, I am considering running for US Congress in 2008.
I received many updates about this weekend’s Washington DC anti-war rallies. I was very glad to see that Americans conducted themselves with respect and there was no attempt to deface our Memorials to Fallen Heroes.
There are some points I wish to make in this first missive.
“War on Terror” is a misnomer. Terror is a tactic being employed worldwide to intimidate--- terrorize---people to reach a political goal. We are facing World War III; the adversary is Totalitarian Imperialistic Fascist Islam. We are up against an ideology, not a tactic, and until we admit and understand that which opposes us, we are not going to be able to fully grasp the strategic and operational level tasks required to achieve success, victory.
• This adversary is totalitarian in that it seeks to dominate all aspects of life. I see that domination clearly here in Afghanistan, which was to be the beginning of the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.
• It is imperialistic, as is apparent if you read any jihadi website or listen to their preachings and demonstrative rantings where they profess the goal to reestablish Dar-al-Islam, first a borderless Islamic empire, ruled under totalitarian Sharia law. Then the complete subsuming of the world under this caliphate, which has been the mantra since 622 A.D.
• Finally, it is fascist in that Islam itself means “submission” and the subjugation of the individual with no such thing as human rights. I see it in Afghanistan, read of it elsewhere, and I hear the stories of no music, no TV, no education (other than memorizing the Koran), no free speech, no rights for women, no questioning--- just whatever the mullah, imam, or cleric says.
This is the 7th century jihadist ideology which has declared a jihad against the world, based upon Wahabbi, Salafi, and Deobandi virulent and radical interpretations. Read the writings of Sayyid Qutb. If you disagree, your head is buried, not in sand, but in cement.
On the question of civil war in Iraq and elsewhere in the Islamic world, the conflict is not so much an issue of civil war, but rather inquisition versus enlightenment/reform. Since late 7th to mid 8th century, there has been a fundamental chasm between Sunni and Shiite based upon contentions of right to caliphate rule. We should have understood that.
However, what is really at stake worldwide is the introduction of a secular principle which is the antithesis to Islam: freedom and democracy. Not one Arab, Islamic Middle Eastern country is going to allow that to take hold in their region, especially not those beholden to the aforementioned ideology. They are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent that from taking root; it would be a stench in their nostrils. This is not about all Muslims but those who want power. We are up against Islamic autocracies and theocracies that use terror to paralyze the rest of the world, including reformist-minded Muslims, until they have the means to strike with weapons parity.
This is not a war against Islam. The terrorists want it to be viewed as such to galvanize support but it is about power hungry men who use a religious dogma to rally the masses to their “cause”. Therefore we have to be wary about sideshow antics and issues, which really have no bearing upon the greater ideological struggle. Welcome to the First World War of the 21st century…..
Let me outline some points of concern about Iraq. This is why we are there:
• there was WMD.
• Saddam Hussein was without a doubt the worlds greatest violator of human rights. I have seen those mass graves, and don’t forget the chemical weapons (WMD) which were used on his own people. Saddam supported suicide bomber families with cash payments, hence why Palestinians have named a street after him.
• We uncovered the UN oil for food scam and other European countries that were in violation of said sanctions (same ones who did not want us to go in there). Guess who supported empowering Saddam? Yes, we did, the US, so it was OUR responsibility to correct that mistake.
• We had no respect in the Middle East as a fighting nation, and I mean none. Don’t believe me. Go back and listen to what OBL said about US.
• Ties to terrorism: Saddam supported it and would support anyone who would give him the $$$. You have to take action based upon what we in the military call the “Enemy Most Dangerous Course of Action”.
We are in Iraq, and there have been plenty of mistakes, but not tactically by our troops. The issues are at strategic and operational levels. That is not new to the US. Bull Run, Fredricksburg, Kasserine Pass, Anzio, Operation Market Garden, Task Force Smith, are just a few historical examples.
Then there are always turning points; Gettysburg, Midway, Normandy, Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge), Inchon, Tet (Yes, we really won. The media decided we lost). So only those who do not know American history are defeatist. I’m glad some of you were not around in previous wars, especially our War of Independence, where lots of mistakes were made, but Saratoga was the turning point. Therefore think in a broader scope and let’s enable ourselves a turning point--- and I don’t mean turn and run.
As I look at our fighting young men and women here in Kandahar and all around Afghanistan, I am proud. It is their turn now. No matter what is decided back inside the Beltway, they will not let any of us down. Actually the obstinate behavior of our legislative body has emboldened not the enemy, but rather our troops. They feel you have let them down, but they love a challenge; they will prove the anti-war crowd wrong, and will love it. They know what is at stake regardless of what is stated back home. And I know too what is at stake.
As I close, I am not some mindless imbecile, regardless of what my wife Angela says, and did not join the Army as a Commissioned Officer 31 July 1982 because I had poor grades or because I had no other opportunity. I joined because we are a family who loves America: my Dad served in WW II, my Mother was a US Marine civilian employee for 25 years, my older brother served as a Marine in Vietnam, and my nephew now serves as a young Army artillery officer in a former unit of my own. The West family realizes that freedom does not come without sacrifice. I have seen the Berlin Wall, patrolled along the Iron Curtain, peered across the DMZ, and fought in two conflicts. I currently serve here in Afghanistan and never have I seen a mission that we must win like this current one. We cannot afford to lose.
I understand, there are those of you who will read this and say, “What a bunch of BS.” That’s fine, because I gave most of my adult life to ensure you have the right to say that. And there are those who will hate your own country, America, regardless of the self-evident truths. To you I say that life just does not get any better than the “Land of the all night IHOP”….and if you truly hate America so much, you are also free to find another home. There is surely an illegal immigrant who will be happy in yours.
Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (US Army, Ret)