“[President Barack Obama] came into office believing that through the power of his personality, and the belief that if America changed its behavior, everything would be okay—that the problem was not the ideology of radical jihadists, the problem was America,” said former Congressman Pete Hoekstra.
On September 29th, I attended an EMPact America conference about the dangers a weakened America poses to the world, the necessity for a stronger military in the face of worldwide threats, and how America has switched sides in the War on Terror. It was a sobering and frightening look at a number of the issues that confront America today. One can’t possibly do justice in a single column to all of the outstanding speakers and panels assembled, but it is available online for viewing, and is well worth watching. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy was the main organizer and moderator of the event.
I will emphasize that there were four members of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) who spoke. Among them, the aforementioned Pete Hoekstra, Admiral James “Ace” Lyons (Ret.), former CIA officer Clare Lopez, and former Congressman and Lt. Colonel Allen West (Ret.).
Among the threats discussed were the current conflict with the Islamic State, as well as al Qaeda and jihadists overrunning states such as Libya. Add to this Russian and Chinese aggression, and America’s lack of leadership is becoming painfully apparent.
Admiral James “Ace” Lyons criticized the Obama doctrine, which he said was to “embrace our enemies, undercut our allies, and, under the false premise that U.S. power has been the problem, you then undercut the U.S. military.”
Allen West and Ace Lyons both criticized the restrictive rules of engagement that our troops currently operate under. Admiral Lyons said that the restrictive rules have impacted “the will to win,” and that if we let our military do their jobs they will achieve victory. West said that we’re coming up with rules of engagement that benefit lawyers, not the men and women in combat.
The President believed that America could engage with moderate jihadists, said Hoekstra. Terrorists “have won in Libya, they’re winning in Syria and Iraq, and there’s nothing more attractive to get converts and to get help than to join a winning team,” he said.
Syria is also Libya all over again, he asserted. This can be seen today with the recent Congressional decision to send $500 million to arm the Syrian rebels—which the government has claimed it is in the process of vetting. This comes at the same time that some members of our U.S. military are receiving pink slips, West emphasized.
The non-state enemy only understands and respects two things, “strength and might,” asserted West. And you simply have to accept the ideology of your enemy, not deny it.
And, he noted, President Obama gave five senior members of the Taliban back to the enemy while the enemy was still fighting America. “That is not what you do in normal battlefield procedures. See, first and foremost, you repatriate [the] enemy after you have whipped the enemy. You don’t repatriate the enemy while you’re still fighting the enemy,” he said.
But President Obama’s aid to jihadists goes deeper, according to CCB member Clare Lopez, another speaker at the conference. When the Arab Spring, or “Islamic Awakening,” spread across North Africa and through Libya, America threw in with Islamic jihad by arming the rebels in Libya, who were clearly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. “Now, the United States government knew perfectly well with whom it was dealing in that revolution. They knew it was al Qaeda, they knew it was [Libyan Islamic Fighting Group], they knew the figures, the names. They had helped get them out of jail, in any case, in the reconciliation process,” said Lopez.
Lopez and other members of the CCB authored an April Interim Report, “How America Switched Sides in the War on Terror.”
Naturally, the left’s hit-man, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, was there to do his best to mock the message of this distinguished group of Americans. It’s what he does, as we’ve pointed out in the past. What offended his sensibility this time, and sent him packing, was Allen West’s view of the role of the U.S. military:
“Let us do what we’re supposed to do in the military, which is crush the enemy,” West said. “And you know what? If they don’t want to act right, guess what happens? We show up again and we kick their butt all over again.”
This was too much for Milbank, who obviously prefers that the military’s main purpose should be to build roads and schools. West made it clear that he has no problem with the military having a role in, for example, helping girls finally be able to go to schools in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, he cited that as a source of personal pride. But he also said that shouldn’t be the primary role of the military; it should instead be the role of USAID, or other non-military agencies of the government—or even the United Nations—to engage in such projects.
West’s comments brought the crowd to its feet. “This produced a standing ovation,” wrote Milbank. “And I rose to go to Manassas, to see a better side of America.” As best as I could tell, no one missed him. But I had to wonder what he really thought. Does he really believe that President Obama is making America and the world a safer place?