What Would Reagan Do? "He would destroy the Islamists."
August 16, 2014
Breitbart News spoke with Bing West, former US Marine and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs under president Ronald Reagan. West is the author of multiple books, including The Village, which has been on the Marine Corps Reading List for decades.
His latest book is titled: One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon At War
Breitbart News: Is the current US strategy implemented by the Obama administration sufficient in containing the Islamic State?
West: No. We have no strategy toward the Islamists. Not in regard to the air, and not regarding anything else. We are drifting.
Is the Islamic State the chief threat to US national security interests today?
West: We have four threats. The foremost threat is the fecklessness of our commander-in chief, who has allowed the other threats to fester and become worse. The second threat is Russia, with its arrogance upsetting the balance in eastern Europe. The Middle East is now driven by the Islamist Sunni barbarian threat in the Islamic State. This is coupled with the Shiite Iranian intention of becoming a threshold nuclear state. Lastly, China wants to push us out of at least half of the Pacific. We have an array of threats, as all presidents do. It is up to president Obama to manage these threats, and he is not managing any of them well.
How can US forces affect change against the Islamic State?
West: The geo-military strategy is obvious: use our air to prevent the Islamists from moving across a desert in strength. Any vehicle is a target for us and we can easily discriminate between the Islamists and civilians. Allow Baghdad and southern Iraq, the Shiite area, to consolidate as a state. Recognize that the Baghdad government and its tattered forces will not retake the northern part of Iraq, heavily populated by Sunnis. To push out the Islamists; our CIA and special forces must work quietly and undercover with the Sunni tribes in the north, and help them to push out the Islamists. In 2006, we did exactly that, but it was thrown away when the Obama administration left Iraq. We can do it again, but it will likely take another five years.
What would your former boss (President Reagan) do differently in dealing with the threats we face today?
West: President Reagan, God bless him, would smile genially, turn to our military and say: “Destroy the Islamists”.
He would say to Mr. Putin: “We are going to export our energy and your nation is going to suffer enormously over the next ten years because of your aggression.”
He would say to Iran: “You theocrats have oppressed your people too long. I am going to continue to apply sanctions until you satisfy the international community that you cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”
How do we stop Iran’s continuing success with their influence operations in the Middle East and the rest of the world?
West: We cannot stop Iran, we must contain Iran. The critical issue is whether President Obama, for reasons of perceptions of his legacy, will reach an unsatisfactory agreement. If Iran is allowed to retain 15 to 20 thousand centrifuges, then stability in the Middle East will definitely be threatened over the next decade.
Has the Obama Administration’s discord with the military hurt our nation’s ability to fight its enemies?
West: Our senior military are kept at arms length by the White House staff, which has accumulated too much power and does not understand geopolitics and the role of the military. Our senior military command is frustrated that their legitimate concerns and their legitimate experiences are not being heard in a proper manner inside the White House. The problem with this new shift is that the White House is where the prism is always domestic politics rather than the security of our nation at-large.
Given your seminal book, The Village, what are the lessons of Vietnam that can be applied to Afghanistan and Iraq?
West: I was an advisor in Vietnam in a village. We defeated the guerrillas by force of arms. Regrettably, our most senior generals in Iraq and Afghanistan changed the military mission from defeating the enemy to nation building. That is an impossibility. The lesson from Vietnam is that from the start of Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have built up their indigenous military forces; focused them on defeating their enemy, and then withdrawn most of our forces; not staying to build nations. That’s not the business of the United States military.