Allen West: Anti-War Congressmen Should ‘Get Shot at a Few Times’

Allen West says Congressmen who oppose the war in Afghanistan should go over and "get shot at a few times and maybe they'd have a different opinion."

The House yesterday rejected, 204-215, an amendment that would have sped up American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Twenty-six Republicans joined in.

In the debate leading up to the vote, one notable freshman stood out:

Others are remaining steadfast. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a retired Army lieutenant colonel who trained Afghan officers, called congressional desires to withdraw quickly from Afghanistan nonsense. “Is the Taliban still fighting? I spent 2.5 years in Afghanistan. Just because you kill Osama bin Laden does not mean that the Taliban has stopped fighting,” he said. “Now can we fight a little smarter? Absolutely.” Asked about the efforts to curb U.S. involvement, West said, “I would take these gentlemen over and let them get shot at a few times and maybe they’d have a different opinion.”

Think ProgressAlex Seitz-Wald doesn’t think much of this new tone:

With the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) still fresh in Americans’ minds, West’s comments are especially irresponsible. But perhaps this should be expected from West. In January, he criticized Obama for traveling to Afghanistan with a security detail, saying, “[I]f I’m asking my young men and women to go out there and put their lives on the line, I should be willing and able to do the exact same thing.”

I don’t find either of these statements offensive, although they’re a little strange–to say nothing of contradictory. Presumably, the reason that the commander-in-chief should go Afghanistan with no more protection than an enlisted man is that it would heighten his awareness of the danger to which he’s exposing them. So, wouldn’t sending Congressmen to Afghanistan–again, presumably without bodyguards and into the places where the fighting is–make them less likely to support the war?

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Quick Takes, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Allen West is, well, a little strange.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I harbor suspicions along those lines myself.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    I wonder if West might have had this Churchill quote in the back of his mind:

    “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

    Or, perhaps, Samuel Johnson’s observation that “The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully.”

    West is a combat veteran. He might think that positively shapes his perceptions, and others could benefit from such an experience.

    But yeah, it’s a bit unusual.

    J.

  4. Rick Almeida says:

    I don’t think I can trust anyone who wears all of his qualification badges and miniature medals on a suit jacket. I thought those were for evening dress, anyway?

  5. Don L says:

    Love that photo -medals not tossed over a fence in treasonist protest against his nation. John Kerry with an open military record – a black man with an open history – no phoney halo or faux messianic image. Unlike those two America haters – he has a love for his country.

    I have some question about him, but none about Obama -I know who he is and he personifies the evil of the control state and the mind set of the baby killers he so encourages.

  6. sam says:

    “I don’t think I can trust anyone who wears all of his qualification badges and miniature medals on a suit jacket.”

    I dunno the occasion, but I have to say that on first sight, it reminded me of a lot of photos I saw of Soviet biggies and not-so biggies back in the day.

  7. sam says:

    Don, dude, get your meds recalibrated.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Some days I really have doubts, but Don has once again affirmed my faith that a significant fascist minority is still alive and kicking in America.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Rick Almeida and @sam: Yeah, it’s a bit unusual. I frequently wear the tiny enamel replica of the ribbon for the Bronze Star on my lapel. But that’s what they’re designed for.

    I’ve briefly considered wearing my mini-medals and badges on my tux, since a goodly number of military officers attend the events in their full dress uniforms. But almost no one who’s no longer in the service does that, so I’d feel sheepish.

  10. tom p says:

    I don’t find either of these statements offensive, although they’re a little strange–

    Actually, they are extremely stupid.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @tom p: That was my first reaction as well. But the sentiment behind the statements, that being in harm’s way provides a unique perspective on war, is right so I’m willing to cut a lot of slack for harebrained applications of it.

  12. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    I interpret West’s comment to mean that Congress-critters who think that the war in Afghanistan is now over because Bin Laden has been killed would change their opinion if they were taken to Afghanistan and shot at a few times.

  13. Boyd says:

    My first reaction to West’s initial quote above was that I didn’t understand the point he was trying to make. After reading the rest of the post and the comments here below, I’ve changed my mind: West is the one who didn’t understand what he was saying.

  14. george says:

    I have some question about him, but none about Obama -I know who he is and he personifies the evil of the control state and the mind set of the baby killers he so encourages.

    Not to mention he kicks puppies, drowns bag loads of kittens in the river, and pulls the wings off of flies and drops them into glasses of water. And I’m sure he doesn’t even like his mom or apple pie.

  15. anjin-san says:

    “I would take these gentlemen over and let them get shot at a few times and maybe they’d have a different opinion.”

    We have been in Afghanistan for going on a decade. Is the plan now to stay forever? I don’t see any evidence that the Taliban will be running the white flags up any time soon.

  16. TG Chicago says:

    Twenty-six Republicans joined in.

    Joined in? You mean they voted for the resolution?

    Anyway, West seems to think that we can only leave when the Taliban stop fighting. Great exit strategy.

  17. Frank says:

    My first reaction was thank God Rep. West is not a police officer.

  18. West is a combat veteran. He might think that positively shapes his perceptions, and others could benefit from such an experience.

    Based on the quotes, I’m not sure the effect was entirely positive. The fact he seems to want to reduce policy disagreements to shooting would indicate the sort of hyperarousal often symptomatic of PTSD.

  19. b-psycho says:

    That picture just screams “wannabe dictator”.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    But the sentiment behind the statements, that being in harm’s way provides a unique perspective on war, is right so I’m willing to cut a lot of slack for harebrained applications of it.

    Indeed…along those same lines, if we had a draft, perhaps we would get into far fewer military entanglements…

    West is the one who didn’t understand what he was saying.

    How shocking coming from a Tea Party darling like West…

  21. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It’s funny watching Internet lefties project their inherent racism onto to Rep. West. Don’t hate the guy just because he’s black, comrades.