fort wayne right Weblog

REAL REPUBLICANS FOR REAL CHANGE

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

Posted by zeakster on August 18, 2008

August 13, 2008

By Art Moore
© 2008 WorldNetDaily 

 
Discouraged by their presidential nominee and local offerings, some Republicans searching for a party standard bearer find a glimmer of hope in South Florida where a highly decorated former Army officer who once faced criminal charges for using shock interrogation tactics to protect his soldiers in Iraq is running for Congress. Lt. Col. Allen B. West told WND his controversial ordeal in 2003 – which nearly led to a court-martial amid support from congressmen and many Americans who regarded him as a hero – should tell voters what kind of a lawmaker he would be, particularly when it comes to issues of defense.
“If you’re a bad guy, and you try to get between me and the safety and lives of American citizens, you’re going to lose,” West said.
West, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in the 22nd District, has drawn support across the nation from places such as Massachusetts, where some Republicans can’t find anyone locally they can get behind with enthusiasm.
The former officer even has a Kentucky Conservatives for West group, a remarkable development, he quips, for a University of Tennessee graduate.
“For me it is a logical progression to go from serving one’s country in the armed serves to serving one’s country in a different uniform, a civilian suit,” West told WND, “because you have taken an oath to the Constitution and you know what it means to sacrifice for the country. And you believe in something that is bigger than yourself.”

He’s running on a simple message.
“We’ve got to get back to the basic conservative principles,” West said, “understanding our national security, fiscal conservatism, social conservatism and tying ourselves to what it is in the Constitution.”
As WND reported in 2003, West was threatened with court martial for tactics he used to flush out information from an uncooperative Iraqi policeman. Threatening to kill the Iraqi if he didn’t talk, West fired a pistol near the policeman’s head, producing an immediate flood of information that purportedly led to the arrest of two insurgents and cessation of attacks on West’s 4th Infantry Division battalion.

But Army prosecutors charged West with aggravated assault, and he faced the possibility of up to eight years in prison.
At a hearing, West was asked by his defense attorney if he would do it again.
“If it’s about the lives of my men and their safety, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can,” he said.
West eventually accepted a non-judicial punishment, the forfeiture of two month’s pay, about $5,000. He retired from the military and moved with his wife, Angela, and two young daughters to Broward County, Florida, where he taught high school. He served in Afghanistan as an adviser to the Afghan army until last November.
West, naturally, has paid particular attention to controversial military prosecutions of U.S. servicemen in Iraq, including Ilario Pantano and the eight Marines charged in the Haditha incident.
He said that if he is elected and serves on the House Foreign Services Committee, he would press to examine the rules of engagement “to make sure we are setting up our soldiers and airman and Marines for success on the ground instead of having them in these situations where they can be exploited by the enemy.”
Blocking and tackling
The former teacher gives the Republican Party an “F” in marketing, for not communicating the GOP’s core principles.
“They are letting everyone else define themselves,” he said. “They are in a quandary about who they are and what they want to be as opposed to what we saw in 1994 when they took over with the ‘Contract with America.'”
West has developed his own contract with the citizens of Florida’s 22nd district, outlining specific initiatives and positions based on the federal government’s constitutional mandate to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, provide for the common defense and secure the blessings of liberty.

West says the GOP needs to get back to those five fundamental principles to be successful.
“Down South we call it blocking and tackling,” he said. “As long as you are blocking and tackling you win. But when you start getting to the point where you’re shifting and changing your positions too often, people start to lose confidence in you.”
West says he often tells audiences he hopes they don’t get bored, “because I stay on the same basic themes, same basic message.”
“That’s what we have to do,” he said, “we have to go to the issues and talk about the basic conservative principles, which promote individual rights and freedom, individual responsibility and accountability of American citizens. And I think that’s where you win.”
Muslims have declared war on us
West says the key to success in Iraq and Afghanistan is understanding that they are not two separate wars, but two theaters of operation in a broader war radical Muslims have declared on the U.S.
“War on terrorism is a terrible misnomer,” he said. “It’s the same as saying World War II was about fighting blitzkrieg.”
What America needs to do, he said, is to know its enemy, as the ancient Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu advised.
“We’ve got to define this enemy and be very clear about understanding its goals and objectives,” West said.
West insists U.S. strategy must take into account the connections not only between jihadist movements around the world, such as in the Philippines, but also the ties to radical Islamic groups on American soil that portray themselves as mainstream, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim-American Society and the Islamic Society of North America.

West believes many U.S. groups of this type are aiding and abetting the enemy.
“When you have groups that are unindicted co-conspirators in terrorist activities, that should alarm you,” he told WND. “When you have such propaganda that is going through mosques all through this country, when you have people that are talking against our Constitution and our constitutional democracy and way of life, that’s got to cause you some nervousness.”
West says the issue is not freedom of speech or religion.
“It’s about promulgating a different political system that is contrary to what we have here, which is individual rights and freedoms and respect thereof,” West said.
West offers a five-point strategy for success.
“We’ve got to deny the enemy sanctuary, wherever he seeks to establish his terrorist activities and training camps,” he began. “We’ve got to interdict the flow of his men and materiel and financial support. We’ve got to isolate and we have to contain his ideology – not allow it to spread and confront our way of life. And then the last thing is we have to disrupt his worldwide operations.”
Pelosi’s talking points
West’s opponent, the incumbent Klein, has a huge fundraising advantage, but West says “that advantage does not translate into anything other than the fact that he can put a bad message out on TV more than me right now.”
“All that Congressman Klein can do is to regurgitate Nancy Pelosi’s talking points,” said West, who secured the Republican nomination unopposed. “He cannot come up with any type of sound solution on his own. He has to stay within the Democratic agenda, which as we see right now is nothing but more attacks and spin: Doubling the capital gains tax, increasing the estate tax, increasing the payroll tax on people earning $200,000 or more, not coming up with any solution for our energy situation.”
West says that because energy independence is tied to national security, Republicans have an opportunity to drive Democrats on the issue.
As his message gets out, he expects to become competitive with Klein after Labor Day.
Klein two years ago defeated Republican Rep. Clay Shaw, who held the seat for 26 years. The district includes Palm Beach and Broward Counties, from Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale.
West pointed out Shaw obviously was badly hurt by the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley, who represented a neighboring district. Foley resigned shortly before the 2006 election amid allegations he sent suggestive e-mails and sexually explicit instant messages to teenaged congressional pages.

“What happened in 2006 is the combination of Republicans acting more like Democrats, not being fiscally conservative, and not holding up to their standards,” said West, pointing also to the collateral political damage from prosecution of Republican Reps. Tom Delay, Bob May and Duke Cunningham.
But West argued the Democrats, in contrast, are “not beholden to a lot of standards, so they will do certain things, and they’ll say, ‘So what?'”
The case of Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana is a prime example of that, he said.
“Here’s someone caught with $90,000 in marked bills in the freezer, and he’s still a congressman? He’s in a leadership position? He’s going to run for office again?”
The bar on the Republican side is higher, West contended.
“The American people are looking for conservatives to be people of standards and principles and to hold to them,” he said.
West said he recognizes that many head to Washington with high ideals, but the culture of the capital and the power and perks of office change them.

He regards his military experience is an asset that would help protect him from that trap by having reinforced the importance of being continually reminded who you are and why you are there.
“Every time you were promoted as an officer, you re-took your oath to the Constitution, because that’s what you were there to support and defend,” West said.
“The Constitution is the embodiment of the American people, so, as long as you understand that you are a servant to the American people, as long as you understand that basic document and what it is calling you to do, you won’t change.”
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