Congressman Allen West (R-FL) is a military veteran who lately finds himself “swimming in the cesspools of Washington,” as Sean Hannity put it. West came up for air to chat with Hannity about President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal speech on Wednesday night.
West described the President’s address as “a highly politicized ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech that was absent the aircraft carrier and the banner,” a somewhat awkward reference to George Bush’s speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, when he declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
For the record, Bush did not say “mission accomplished” during that speech. In fact, he said the opposite: “Our mission continues. Al-Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed.” (Follow this link and read what Bush actually said, if you remain wedded to the media narrative.) A banner reading “Mission Accomplished” was hung behind where the President spoke, by the crew of the Abraham Lincoln. I can appreciate the point Rep. West is trying to make, but every now and then, it is necessary to stomp on the bubble wrap of popular mythology.
West zeroed in on the President’s declaration that “it is time to begin nation-building at home,” making his Wednesday night address “more of a campaign speech than a strategy speech for that combat theater of operations.”
West also noted that Obama made no mention of the actual theater commanders, including General David Petraeus, responsible for the Afghan operation. “That is why this speech was really focused, more so, on the President, because you look at what has recently happened with his poll numbers.”
West describes the concept of the Afghanistan withdrawal being conducted from a position of strength as “absolutely false,” because there is still “a very vicious, very determined enemy on the battlefield.” He should know, having enjoyed the pleasure of that enemy’s company for over two years of distinguished service.
In fact, a piece in the Washington Post from Robert Kagan today bluntly states: “The entire military leadership believes the president’s decision is a mistake, and especially the decision to withdraw the remainder of the surge forces by September 2012.” Kagan thinks this “may prove a disastrous political calculation, too,” because if Afghanistan is a mess during the height of the presidential campaign, “it will be because of the decision the president made this week.”
It has never been in Obama’s “comfort zone” to be Commander-in-Chief, according to West. “That’s why I think he was more comfortable accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.” Oooh… burn. How many wars will Obama need to start before the Nobel committee starts wondering if they might have been a little premature?
“You can say that combat operations are over,” West pointed out, “but the enemy still has a vote.” War is the process of stripping that vote from the enemy. Instead, it seems likely that by the time Obama’s withdrawal is completed in 2014, the Taliban will have far more to say about what happens in Kabul than the United States of America.