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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Lt. Col. Allen West & Walid Phares- 911, Eight Years And Counting

Lt. Col. Allen West & Walid Phares- 911, Eight Years And Counting

September 12, 2009

Lt. Col. Allen West & Walid Phares - 911, Eight Years And Counting


September 12, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Eight years post the worst terrorist attack this country has ever sustained and where are we regarding the, seemingly for now, ill-fated war on terror? Though much is still unclear, one truth stands out, so complete has been the retreat from engagement that the conflict no longer even has a name, banned in observance of that perverse sense of multiculturalism that now dominates official Washington.

Rather than rely on our own resources to sort through the elements of an assessment we turn instead to two noted authorities, Lt. Col. Allen West [Ret.] and Walid Phares to help us make sense of where we stand.

Mr. West served in the U.S. Army for twenty-two years, seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star among other honors. Mr. Phares is an American scholar, born in Lebanon, he is a Maronite Christian. A prolific author on subjects pertaining to the Middle East especially regarding terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and jihad movements, he has published 7 books.

Both of these experts recently addressed the question of where we are, eight years down the road from September 11, 2001, in videos produced by Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy.

Lt. Col West concentrates primarily on the status of the multinational campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, offering some ideas as to how the war should be prosecuted.

West offered the perspectives of Sun Tzu, the classic Chinese military philosopher and author of "The Art of War," who maintained that if you, "know your enemy...you will always be victorious," a former First Sergeant acquaintance who maintained that "if you find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck," and his own advice to troops under his command that we have not sufficiently adopted the "reality" of the enemy so we are less than capable of understanding who he is and how he thinks.

West does not necessarily believe that an increase in the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan is the automatic path to success, identifying other key areas to address in pursuit of a "enemy oriented" rather than "terrain oriented" strategy, he objecting to the latter because it leads in his mind to an army of occupation.

Lt. Col West's prescription to deal with the enemy is direct, "find him...fix him in position...engage him with your weapons...destroy him...pursue him."

Three problem areas prevent that policy from being completely realized:

1. The opium poppy must be dealt with, it being the source of income for the enemy as well as for the poppy growers. West suggests that we simply buy it and dispose of it or process it into morphine or put it to some other use but in any regard, the income obtained in its commerce must be denied to al-Qaeda/Taliban. West identified one of the very real problems with the current government, president Hamid Karzai's brother is the biggest drug lord in S. Afghanistan.

2. The rules of engagement have been tightened to a point where even suspected enemy can't be engaged if they don't have a weapon and demonstrate no hostile intent. Here West noted that when military patrols leave bases such as Kandahar they are often watched by enemy forward observers who report positions, force size and other information back to their leaders who then can plan attacks more efficiently. The enemy observers know this of course and take full advantage of the free pass they have been given.

3. Since Afghanistan is a combined U.S./NATO operation, participating countries often place severe restrictions in how their troops will be allowed to fight, with some units not even permitted to leave the road in pursuit of the enemy. This naturally lowers the effectiveness of the forces affected and hampers the war effort. West states that this allows sanctuaries to exist where the enemy should be denied them.

Concluding Lt. Col West stated that, "the war on terror is a worldwide conflagration, not restricted to any certain country or any certain theater of operation." He then emphasized that if we do not start developing the proper goals and objectives at the strategic level then, "we're going to follow along the same suit we saw in Vietnam, and we can't afford to lose to this enemy, because this has been a fight that has been going on since 622 AD."

Taking over from the Lt. Col, Walid Phares started his remarks characterizing this battle as "a jihadi war on democracies," saying that he hoped in the time allotted to sketch-out the state of the conflict since 911, looking at things "from a strategic level."

He said that the "major problem," is that on 911 and continuing today "Washington and the country were divided" on who the enemy was, who we were fighting and even who attacked us.

Phares puzzled that eight years out, "that we have top advisors in the administration suggesting jihad is yoga," emphasizing the sudden softening of the language and rhetoric by team Obama including its banning of term such as "the war on terror."

He pointed out that this level of confusion was not a part of either World War II or even World War I for that matter, and would be hard for future historians to understand. "We are concerned," Phares said, "that this is not some talk on a TV show [but] talk on the new approach to the national security perception."

He outlined two differing schools on dealing with the enemy, with one [presumably that of the new administration and the Democrat leadership] offering that we were only attacked by al-Qaeda and perhaps a limited number of its extremist allies and the other [with a considerable track record] seeing the enemy as not merely al-Qaeda and the Taliban but a jihadi network which also includes Saudi and other Salafists as well as the Iranian Khomeinists.

Those who accept this limited [small network] view of the enemy believe that the conflict revolves around U.S. foreign policy, imperialism etc., and that to a certain degree our foes have some legitimate grievances. Phares implies here that the Obama administration has bought into this theory.

He observed that for seven years we engaged the jihadi network and that though over the last year we have disengaged, the jihadis have not.

Phares broke this 7 year period down into two years of fierce engagement followed by 5 years of limited engagement, i.e., stalemate, adding that we won the first round, bringing the Taliban and Saddam down.

In order to have a chance at securing a more permanent and larger victory, the next stage will require us to name what he calls an "ideological enemy," which we have been reluctant to do because this larger network of radical Muslims contains members of OPEC and the Islamist members of the OIC [the U.N. based, Organization of Islamic Countries] who have the ability to also wage economic war against us if they feel threatened, which they will.

"In the war of ideas we are confronting immense, powerful lobbies that are feeding from oil producing regimes...Once we touch the ideology, they will mobilize everything that they've got to stop us...they will allow us to fight al-Qaeda...but the real factory that produces the al-Qaeda jihadists, that we cannot touch; it's a no-go... if we project democracy in the region we are threatening their interests".

He added that at every point where this larger enemy might have been engaged there was a blockage, "here in Washington, DC and in Brussels."

In concluding remarks Phares states that the "new reality" in DC consists of a general disengagement, in Afghanistan without eliminating the threat and in Iraq, leaving without having dealt with Iran.

"two years of offensive, five years of stalemate, and this year is the year of the general retreat, we have to admit that...we are not meddling in supporting democracy in Iran, and I use that term on purpose, we are talking to Basher al-Assad, we may be taking to Hezbollah...and in Afghanistan...we are seeking to find the "good" Taliban to engage them...it will take some time...until we realize that the jihadist are still at war even if we stop the war."


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