The Lessons of History
Our enemies take notice when we scale back our military.

Combat Outpost Spera in Khost Province, Afghanistan (Photo: Army Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander)


Allen West

Now, I am not a fan of nation-building excursions. I have been there and done that. I believe we must move away from a forward-deployed military and toward one that projects power focusing not on occupation-style warfare but rather on strike-operations-oriented warfare. We must use our greatest asset — strategic and operational mobility — to deny the enemy sanctuary, to interdict his flow of men, materiel, and other means of support, to cordon him off, and to win the information-operations aspect of engagement. Those are the premier strategic imperatives on the 21st-century battlefield.

Unfortunately, we are ceding regions where the enemy, after exploiting chaotic situations, find themselves in power. I am concerned about the radical Islamic threat that now extends from the Maghreb to the Middle East and into southwest Asia; the rise of Iran’s drive for regional hegemony, which now reaches into our hemisphere; the economic juggernaut of China, which enables the belligerence of North Korea, and those two nations’ collusion with Iran on nuclear capability. And we must not lose sight of our dear friend Vladimir Putin in Russia.


I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but our world is more Machiavellian than Kantian. There are only two ways to end a combat engagement, an armed conflict, or a war: win it, or lose it. By simply stating the date on which you are going to retreat, you only embolden your enemies.

When anyone can see that the major focus of our military is social reengineering, the wolves salivate and prepare to feast. These are indeed times that try men’s souls, but let us not forget that the president is commander-in-chief, and that our national security is his primary responsibility.

— Allen West is a former United States congressman representing Florida’s 22nd congressional district.


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