SCHAUMBURG - Colonel Allen West and Colonel Larry Kaifesh, GOP candidate for Congress in 8th CD, talked with Illinois Review about the upcoming election and the ongoing War on Terror. Part 1 is HERE. Here is Part 2:
IR: Many voiced hope that America would have a new generation of leaders coming back from fighting terrorism in the Mid East. But we’re seeing a tone of disrespect for the military growing as people grow tired of war. What are your thoughts as things are changing – from the Administration down – towards the military?
KAIFESH: I’d just like to highlight that as one of the reasons I’m running. Because there’s a complete failure in leadership from the Administration on down. And in regards to Iraq, we had a success – it was a fragile success – but it was success. At one time before we pulled out, Iraq was one of the most stable countries in the region. And there’s not one national security or military person that didn’t understand this fragile success needed to have some work.
We just couldn’t pull out the support network. It was amazing what we were able to do there – build a Western democracy in a foreign, Islamic country in the heart of the Middle East. It was a major accomplishment. But it was there, and it was succeeding. It was fragile.
When the Status Armed Forces Agreement failed, I don’t think anyone of us believed it would make it. It was just a matter of time at that moment. And that is the unfortunate part. Leadership would recognize that and identify.
We need to do what’s right for the sacrifices of those that served, all the commitment and the treasure we gave to fight this war – and for the Iraqi people. And make sure we saw it through to success, instead of pulling out because it was politically favorable. When we start making national security decisions based on political pulls, bad things happen. This is just the perfect example.
IR: The military budget is being cut by this Administration. Where will all this end up?
WEST: Well, this will end up where it always has when people continue to believe the military will be the bill payer for bigger domestic spending, and the expansion of the welfare nanny state. After World War I, we gutted our military. After World War II, we gutted the military and headed into the Korean Conflict. The enemy is always looking for those opportunities to exploit, and that’s what they’re doing now. Look at Russia, who have crossed the border and invaded southern states in the Ukraine.
Even if you look at what happened in Viet Nam, there’s similarity here. We abandoned South Viet Nam when we won the Viet Nam War. But once again, politics – the Democratic Party – abandoned and look what we gave rise to over there – Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, the Killing Fields.
So now what do you have? You have Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS and greater Killing Fields. Another genocide of Christians and other religious minorities, also Muslims. Unfortunately, we just saw the beheading of an American this last week.
IR: What is your response to the wing of the Republican Party that says we shouldn’t be over there, that we asked for these problems – specifically, the Paul wing of the party. Your thoughts?
WEST: It’s naïve. The enemy has a vote. ISIS has decided they’re at war with us. It shows again a populous political maneuvering – you think you know the sense of the American people. The American people don’t want to be threatened. The American people want to be safe. The American people want their enemies to be crushed.
What we have failed to do is to win wars because we have had these rules of engagement that are so stringent upon our men and women on the battlefield. That’s why you need a person like Larry [Kaifesh] – because he’s been on the battlefield and he can make those strategic policy decisions up there to enable our men and women to be successful.
IR to Kaifesh: When you are campaigning, are the people of the 8th CD saying that we asked for this
KAIFESH: I haven’t heard that per se directly. I have heard a lot that we should have never gone in there to begin with – it was a bad decision – and I correct them. I say, ‘Let’s put ourselves back to where we were on 9-11. You have to frame the situation so you can look at it. When 9-11 happened – or let’s backtrack to Desert Storm – we went to get Iraq out of Kuwait. When we went to Iraq, it was about a year and a half away from nuclear capability. People don’t know that. That is why we wanted Hans Blitz and UN inspectors in Iraq. We left Hans Blitz in Iraq to keep monitoring so they would not develop nuclear capability.
In 1998, Saddam Hussein kicked those UN inspectors out. So from 1998 to 2001, when 9-11 happened, we had no visibility on the ground as to what was in Iraq. When 9-11 happened, national security professionals in the military asks themselves two questions – What’s the enemy’s most likely course of action and let’s make sure we protect our countrymen from that – and that was a similar course of attack.
Then the second question is ‘What’s the most dangerous course of action?’ And the most dangerous course of action is nuclear capable weapon in the hands of a terrorist. And that is when George W. Bush started talking to Saddam saying, ‘Listen, we haven’t been in your country for three years, you were a year and a half away – 1991- we want to send our inspectors back in just to make sure you don’t have a nuclear weapon that could get in the wrong hands.
We negotiated for over a year – peacefully – and then we finally put it up for a vote in the House and Senate. And everybody supported – overwhelmingly – including Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Madeline Albright – it was overwhelmingly supported by the House and the Senate. Everybody agreed we should use force if Saddam would not allow the inspectors in. And that is what we did.
We went in there, and the service members did a terrific job. And we did find some chemicals, and found some other things. Did we find a nuclear bomb? No. And then the complaint was, ‘Well, you lied.’ Well, there’s a little thing about intelligence. Intelligence is having a 1000-piece puzzle with only two pieces in hand. You’re trying to paint a picture. Intelligence is not factual. Intelligence is the information you have available to you at the time. And your trying to paint the rest of the picture so you have to do what we did.
So, at that point, we had done the right thing – to go into Iraq, make sure they didn’t have a nuclear capable weapon and leave the inspectors in there. Now what we did after that we could probably talk a little bit further.
Did we have the right strategy, did we implement that? At the end of the day, we were successful in developing a fragile success as a western democracy in Iraq. That’s pretty amazing stuff.
The conclusion of the interview with Colonel West and Colonel Kaifesh on Thursday.