Lt. Col. Allen West speaks on campus
by Josh Paladino
March 17, 2016
Source: Hillsdale Collegian
Lt. Col. Allen West is the president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, serving in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan. Florida’s 22nd District elected him to the House of Representatives in 2010. West spoke at Hillsdale College Saturday by invitation of the Hillsdale Young Americans for Freedom.
Does the U.S. have a moral obligation to intervene in foreign countries to spread democracy?
Having been a person who spent 22 years in the United States military, I don’t think we have a moral obligation to spread democracy. I think we have a moral obligation to make sure that people are not oppressed, that they do not live under tyranny, and that we ensure liberty and freedom is available to others. You cannot make people democratic because it is a political system that may not agree with people’s civilizational background or their nature. Having spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are very tribal in nature. But, I think that every soul yearns to be free. The motto of the United States Army Special Forces is “De Oppresso Liber,” which translates to “liberate the oppressed.”
What should the role of the U.S. be in the fight against the Islamic State and the Assad regime?
I am not a big person on regime change, but I am a big person on making sure that the most savage and barbaric entity we have seen since Nazi Germany has to be eradicated. It’s not just ISIS; there is a global movement that stands against liberty and freedom. I think we do have a role and responsibility to make sure that groups and organizations like this do not exist, and we should be able to build coalitions to fight against them.
What should be the U.S.’s response to Syrian refugees?
I am not someone who supports military-aged Muslim males being brought to the United States. I am a very compassionate person, when it comes to the elderly or small children. I think after what we saw with Tashfeen Malik in San Bernadino, we have to be careful with military-aged Muslim females, as well. We have to protect our society; we have to protect our civilization. You look at what is happening in Europe with the mass infiltration of Syrian refugees. There have been mass rapes in Germany, Norway, and Sweden. We have to protect our people first and foremost. Most importantly, they should be staying there to fight to for their own countries.
How does your faith influence your view of foreign policy?
My favorite verse out of the Bible is Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.” So, I don’t think there is any challenge we face that is insurmountable, but I also know that in and of myself, I have limits. I have to ask for wisdom and discernment. That is what it takes to be able to lead people.
What did your service in Iraq and Afghanistan teach you about the mindset of the people that live there and about the ideology of Islam?
Iraq and Afghanistan are two very different places. Iraq has incredibly highly educated individuals that yearn to be free. In Afghanistan, you are dealing with a very basic, tribal mentality. I think when you start to study and understand the nature of Islam, you see Islam moving away from being a religion to more of a theocratic, political, totalitarian ideology. You see the global conquest that they have been after for quite some time. We have to remember that in 1790, when Jefferson and Adams sat down with the Dey of Algiers, they asked him, “Why are you attacking our merchant ships?” And he said simply, “We are commanded to do so by our prophet and by our book.” This doesn’t mean that we dislike Muslims, but we have to understand what the ideology is.
What are your thoughts on the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary?
First of all, let me tell you, I don’t even pay attention to the Democratic side. On the Democrat’s side, you have a socialist and a liar. Neither one of them are qualified to be president of the United States of America and definitely not our commander in chief. There is an incredible angst out there. There is a yearning for leadership. There is a yearning for strength in our country once again. I believe that the voice of the grassroots — everyday, common Americans — is seeking to be heard. I want to make sure that in the Republican Party, there are not candidates who will protect their own special interests that go against the will of the people.
What are your thoughts on the Trump campaign?
This is all about the American people looking for someone who they believe will fight back. Joe and Jay Six-Pack — the everyday, average American isn’t worried about quantitative easing or the philosophy of governance, when you study Locke and Montesquieu. They just want to feel that they are protected. They just want to feel that someone is going to look out for them.