Politics & Policy

Col. West on Iraq, Obama and the Surge

Allen West, a veteran of both Gulf wars and current candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd district, sent an email to supporters today reflecting on the end of combat operations in Iraq, President Obama’s speech, and opposition to the surge by his opponent, incumbent Ron Klein.

My experiences in Iraq go back to 1991 with Operations Desert Shield/Storm as a young Army Captain. I returned to Iraq in 2003 as a combat Battalion Commander for Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is a bittersweet moment for me to watch our Commander-in-Chief declare an end to Operation Iraqi Freedom and further combat operations. I have studied and been a part of half-measured warfare, and have seen its residual effects. My fear is that the heroic efforts of my fellow Warriors will fall to this lesson of history.

Ending combat operations is not just a convenient political decision.  As Carl von Clausewitz stated, “War is the imposition of one’s will upon another.” I found President Obama’s address on Iraq unnecessary, confusing, conciliatory, and lacking focus. There was never a definitive outline of strategic objectives to defeat the global conflagration against the radical Islamic theocratic-political ideology and non-state, non-uniformed belligerents against which we combat. Furthermore, the reference to the final 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team departing from Iraq in hours of darkness is synonymous with President Obama’s night-ride visit to Afghanistan, and conveys a tone of surrender and weakness.

However, the decisive operation that enabled this retrograde operation was the “Surge,” which then-Senator Obama, and Congressman Ron Klein, both refused to support and openly opposed. I believe Klein owes our returning Heroes an apology for not having faith and confidence in them to succeed.

There was really no purpose in President Obama giving this speech just to say we quit and hope the people of Iraq and the bad guys will accommodate that decision. There are only two ways in which a war – or combat operations – are terminated…you win or you lose.  President Obama’s speech last night was that of a person who cast aside something inconvenient to the furthering of his domestic liberal progressive socialist agenda.

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