Once Again, Allen West Proves Himself To Be An Embarrassment

Allen West, the Florida Congressman whose military career came to an ignominious end when he was relieved from command and investigated for attempted murder over an incident involving the questioning of an Iraqi police officer, has decided to weigh in on the controversy that has erupted over the Marines who were recorded on video urinating on the corpses of Taliban dead:

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

In other words, West’s attitude is that unless you have actually been in combat you have no right to criticize these Marines. Sorry, but that isn’t how it works. We live in a country where people are allowed to speak their mind regardless of their life experiences and, when it comes something this outrageous telling people to “Shut up” is little more than the kind of juvenile twaddle I’d expect from a drunken frat boy, not a Member of Congress and former officer in the United States military. Of course, this is the same Allen West who once suggested that an anti-war Congressman should get shot a few times, sent out an offensive email regarding a fellow Member of Congress in a manner that he knew would become public, and said that anyone with an Obama bumper sticker is a threat to the gene pool.

Perhaps West is concerned that his newly revised district won’t send him back to Congress in November so he’s auditioning for a talk radio spot, because he’d fit right in along side the Limbaugh’s, Hannity’s, and Levin’s of the world. As a Member Of Congress, though, he needs to develop a lot more maturity.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Military Affairs, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    Doug: His quotes are a full platter of red meat, and them some. But, do you have any problems with anything you quoted above, save the last paragraph? Unlike others who are trying to wave off the violations, he is agreeing that the Marines are likely guilty and deserve the proper punishment. I will stipulate that his last comment is completely unecessary, and does not help anyone.

  2. @John Peabody:

    I find his efforts to apparently justify the actions by pointing to things that have happened to American troops to be entirely inappropriate

  3. mantis says:

    I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

    That’s because you’re a lying moron, West.

  4. NoZe says:

    That’s funny, I remember a great deal of public outrage and anger at the tragedies he mentions…

  5. Mista Tibs says:

    I wholeheartedly dislike West and his style of politics and I hope that he is a 1 term politician, but I agree with what he is trying to say. War is hell and sometimes people vent in ways that are unprofessional. If I killed someone trying to kill me, I probably would behave in a not so politically correct manner.

  6. John Peabody says:

    Doug- you are right, the ‘but look at that guy!’ argument is silly and does not make a case. But Mista Tibs is also correct. One issue, I believe, is of the romanticizing of past, “glorious” wars, like WWII. I’m sure that most people have no idea of the number of violations that occured, on all sides. In that era, it was unspoken, unreported, and ignored. This makes a difference today, because our populace thinks that our soldiers today should be as good as the perfect soldiers that exist on paper and in our national memory of the past. I have to add, I personally wish the same zeal directed to the circumstances that released the video. For that release, surely, is aiding and abetting.

  7. MM says:

    @Mista Tibs: There’s a difference between understanding something and condoning or defending it.

  8. tps says:

    @NoZe:

    Yeah I remember Markos Moulitas’s comment about the Blackwater contractors that were killed and burned in Fallujah: “Let the people see what war is like. This isn’t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”

  9. tyndon clusters says:

    TPS, unless you’ve worn the uniform (which I highly doubt), you have NO right to criticize Markos, because unlike you, Markos served in the U.S. Army, so, to quote West, “Shut your mouth”.

    Your opinion is worthless girlie man. War is hell.

  10. mantis says:

    @Mista Tibs:

    War is hell and sometimes people vent in ways that are unprofessional. If I killed someone trying to kill me, I probably would behave in a not so politically correct manner.

    That’s why the military has extensive training and professional soliders are supposed to be disciplined and follow a code. Killing people who are trying to kill you is the job. It’s not a surprise to these guys. It’s what they signed up for.

  11. mantis says:

    @tps:

    A great deal of outrage was directed at Kos for that comment (and rightly so), so even your example of the lack of outrage fails in every possible way.

  12. Commonist says:

    “Civilians don’t know what it’s like out there! When the bullets go flying etc. etc.!”

    Way to make people who are/have been in uniform seem composed and fair-minded in the face of criticism of practices.

  13. I respectfully disagree. I was young, but I don’t remember the outrage over Somalia, even when Black Hawk Down came out. Simply put, while we are entitled to tell him to shut it – he IS an embarrassment, for other reasons – I cannot say I disagree with him. Chickenhawk civilians really cannot criticize the Marines and keep their credibility until they’ve been put into this position.

    That said, that does not diminish the damage they’ve done to our cause.

  14. Jack Moss says:

    Col. West is right. Those who haven’t been can never understand nor speak intelligently about what those who have seen, and all the examples he cited are true. He stated that the men should be punished and rightly so. But to those who standing on the sidelines, shut up, or get on the line and serve.

  15. mantis says:

    But to those who standing on the sidelines, shut up, or get on the line and serve.

    Kiss my ass.

    Also, too, this.

    – War is not a moral agent. “War is hell, shit happens and trophies get taken,” is a copout from an irresponsible person. War doesn’t make anyone do anything because it is not a living thing.

    People make war and they make choices in war. Most of these choices are made along the lines of rules of engagement, other war conventions, and training.

    The Marine Corps doesn’t teach anyone to do this.

    Choices were made and they were not good ones. This is what maintains our moral high ground. It doesn’t matter if the Taliban cut heads off and videotape them.

    The whole point, as I was told since 2001, was not to become like them, or to be comparable to them.

    You can kiss Sgt. Lemons’ ass too.

  16. mantis says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    I was young, but I don’t remember the outrage over Somalia, even when Black Hawk Down came out.

    Just because you don’t remember something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  17. tyndon clusters says:

    Hey, those in the military, you have no right to criticize Obama, because while you were out there playing soldier, he was going to law school at Harvard, which statistically is far harder and a more meaningful accomplishment than rousing peasants out of their mudhuts and shooting their goats in front of them.

    So, if you haven’t actually served as President in the White House, and have just stood on the sidelines denouncing the magic negro, why don’t you serve as President or shut the fuk up.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mantis:

    I was young, but I don’t remember the outrage over Somalia, even when Black Hawk Down came out.

    Just because you don’t remember something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    I was not young, and I do remember…. There was such an outpouring of outrage the likes of which Col West can not acknowledge because that would undermine his point.

  19. Commonist says:

    @tyndon clusters:

    A little crass, but I get what you are saying and I approve.

  20. Ian says:

    What amazes me is that sometimes the most ardent self-professed defenders of the constitution are the ones who seem to have no idea what’s in it. The idea of a member of Congress telling Americans to shut their mouths just blows my mind. I’m well aware that the First Amendment concerns the making of laws restricting speech, but still.

    As always, I like to play a little game when I hear this kind of rhetoric out of people like West. The game is just me asking myself what the reaction would have been if Nancy Pelosi said the exact same thing. “Hey conservatives, shut your mouths!”. The resulting outrage would be audible in Outer Mongolia.

  21. Septimius says:

    I look forward to this site castigating the next Democrat who throws out the “chicken hawk” slur against a Republican. After all, “We live in a country where people are allowed to speak their mind regardless of their life experiences,” right?

  22. legion says:
  23. legion says:

    You know, I realize West was in a tremendously stressful situation in Iraq. Stressful in ways most people can’t even imagine. I served in that part of the world then too, but I was fortunate enough to be stationed somewhere I wasn’t getting shot at, and I still can’t truly picture what it must have been like for him. So let me put this into perspective.

    If I were trying to get information out of someone I thought might be a terrorist, maybe I’d bend some rules, maybe I wouldn’t. If I thought men under my command were in danger because of intel this guy had, maybe I’d be tempted to cross the line – I honestly can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing in his shoes. But here’s the important part:

    I wouldn’t be proud of it.

    West straight-up committed war crimes. He acted like a terrorist in an attempt to get information out of a terrorist. But what puts him beyond the pale is that he is _proud_ of what he did. That he would not hesitate to do the same thing again. That he would encourage others to act the same way.

    That – not what he did, but how he acted afterwards (and ever since) – is what makes him a disgrace to the uniform, and the nation.

  24. I feel I need to defend my position, as a veteran and someone who – luckily – came out of my service intact.

    I don’t think that “war is hell, sh*t happens and trophies get taken”. I agree that that is a poor view, and an overly simplistic one. But a person’s psyche is like metal ore; you don’t know what you have in terms of quality until you put it to the fire. Decisions people make under fire – either figuratively or literally – show what they’re *truly* made of. It’s possible for someone to BS their way around a situation for a long time, if they have their wits about them, but in situations like the ones these Marines are in most of the time, wits go out the window. Everything is amplified. And a person’s real nature – primal, unhinged, uncensored – comes out.

    That does not make what these Marines did acceptable, and it does show their true character. But people can’t intellectually say what a situation like that is like until they’re in one. I’m not one to say “serve or STFU” – another crass, pointless argument – it’s just a notation of one’s experiences.

  25. The major problem here is that NO ONE cares about what “out” population or our “media”. THEIR population and their media is the problem. If West can´t see the difference he is a moron.

  26. Ian says:

    Christopher Bowen:

    I mean this in the nicest possible way, but you’d make a lousy politician.

    What you said, I can respect. What West said just makes me respect him even less, and I didn’t think that was possible.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    This makes a difference today, because our populace thinks that our soldiers today should be as good as the perfect soldiers that exist on paper and in our national memory of the past. I have to add, I personally wish the same zeal directed to the circumstances that released the video. For that release, surely, is aiding and abetting.

    Forget the “perfect soldier” nonsense, it would have been enough for these particular Marines to have some common human decency…oh, and releasing this video isn’t aiding and abetting as much as the indecent acts that were committed…

    Chickenhawk civilians really cannot criticize the Marines and keep their credibility until they’ve been put into this position.

    Hmm…so is it wrong to use the chickenhawk argument against Republicans who never served but who want to play their own little games of Stratego with the military? And it is now perfectly acceptable to use the chickenhawk argument against anyone who never served but who would dare to criticize these Marines for pissing on corpses? Hmm…..

  28. The sooner Allen West is President, the better.

    It’s time to rid the country of the liberal influence.
    Liberals are the problem. 2012. Solve the problem.

  29. mantis says:

    The sooner Allen West is President, the better.

    We’ve got a comedian, I see.

    It’s time to rid the country of the liberal influence.

    By what means?

  30. CK says:

    @legion:

    Who would I rather serve beside? Col West or Legion?

    Col West every day of the week and twice on Sundays!

  31. CK says:

    Once Again, Doug Mataconis Proves Himself To Be An Embarrassment

  32. AllenS says:

    If you’ve never been on the front lines with people shooting at you and you shooting back, you’ll never understand why the Marines did what they did. Let me repeat, you’ll never understand. I also understand where West is coming from.

    AllenS
    A/3/503rd Inf. 173d Abn. Bde.
    1967-68

  33. @Ian: “I mean this in the nicest possible way, but you’d make a lousy politician.”

    I’ve never been complimented so hard in my life.

  34. TEA says:

    “As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

    I want to know of the people that have made a comment about this, how many have actually served in the military and those of you who have served were in a combat MOS like Infantry? Those of you who have never served and are sittting back knowing that you have never been in a situation where taliban where ambushing you and your men when losing their lives,” You have never been in the situation, nor the experiance to justify what you think is right or wrong in THEIR shoes. Thes guys are in a totally different mindset that you who have never been in or will never know or understand whats going on.

    TPS- “That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.” To be honest you know most of these guys are prior-service Special Forces/Rangers/ Force Recon ect……Have you ever been to combat? Not xbox 360 or ps3 Call of Duty but have you actually served? If you have not, you justifying for something that you have never done or been in their shoes to experiance, thats ironic isnt it? If you have ever been in combat and were in a job like the Ground Pounders… like myself (Army Ranger-3 purple hearts) you know what I am talking about.

    tyndon clusters have you served your country? I would be careful disrespecting military and those who have served by saying, “than rousing peasants out of their mudhuts and shooting their goats in front of them. I dont know if you have served overseas but if that is what you did as a job then maybe you might want to think about the other jobs out there then what you did? I totally understand that if you have never been in the president shoes then dont talk shit like if you havent been in these marines shoes.

    I understand that the arm-chair quaterbacks that have never been in the situation of being ambushed by taliban trying to kill you or behead you so they can recieve $10,000…This is a free country and you can speak whatever you think is right or wrong but for those of you who have never ACTUALLY been in their shoes your opinion or comments matters but its a wash. I know what they did was wrong but, I have been on 4 deployments and the mindset you have there is unexplainable to those that have never stood in line to serve. Please go stand up at the front lines and do your duty and come back and tell me what mindset you were going through when bullets were flying at you or getting amushed by 30 guys and theres only 8 of you? Please tell me? Let me know how it goes?

  35. @An Interested Party: No, you’re right: I have LESS respect for Republicans like Newt Gingrich (I don’t support Doug’s argument there, either) than I do for people attacking Alan West. Gingrich and his ilk are the worst.

  36. legion says:

    @CK: I agree completely. The best place to put you is right next to people like West.

  37. legion says:

    @TEA:wow. First, it’s ‘unless you’ve served, you can’t criticize’. Then it’s ‘unless you’ve served in an infantry MOS, you can’t criticize’. And now it’s ‘ if you haven’t served in an elite SF job and been shot at and and and…’ Jeezus.

    And for all those qualifications, you & people like you still won’t sack up and actually do the criticizing. You still won’t hold your fellow soldiers to any kind of standard of conduct. Are you too afraid it’s a standard you couldn’t meet either? You give a little lip service about how it was ‘wrong’, but ultimately you’ve just copped that if you saw your buds doing things that were illegal & immoral, you wouldn’t lift a finger to stop them. You’ll put you life on the line, but you won’t risk pissing off people with no sense of home or self discipline? That, TEA, is cowardice.

  38. tea says:

    legion,

    Totally understand you….I will give you some advice to better explain where I am coming from. I know we are talking about two different points of view….to get you a first hand knowledge of you being in our shoes. Go serve your country, or even better go serve as a combat mos (infantry) or another combat mos and deploy a just once for 12-18 months or a few deployments. I do think it was fu%&ed up what they did, moreover what they did was unhonorale in a geat measure. I’m so thankful to have ptsd/sleep apnea 3 purple hearts and lost 6 of my best friends fighting 15ft next me to let people like you try and understand without you having been there.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    This “unless you served…” argument could be extended to just about anything…I mean, under this rule, most people shouldn’t criticize the poor, criminals, the wealthy, politicians, gay people, the disabled, celebrities, professional athletes, etc. etc. etc….in the end, it looks like nothing more than a way to try to excuse abhorrent behavior…

  40. matt says:

    @TEA: I’m confused and I’m hoping you can help me out here.. Since my brother didn’t make it back from Iraq (IED) does that mean I have a partial right to speak out on this? Does it matter if my family is full of veterans? What percentage do I have to achieve before I’m allowed to speak out?

    What if my MOS put me on base in a remote (LoL) region of Afghanistan but I never actually saw direct combat?

  41. Buffalo Rude says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    Chickenhawk civilians really cannot criticize the Marines and keep their credibility until they’ve been put into this position.

    In Rick Santorum’s world the thing you just did to logic would be criminal.

    Also, that’s the kind of sentiment one would expect from an authoritarian society, no?

  42. James H says:

    Regarding civilian criticism of the military:

    Folks singing the song of “If you haven’t served in the military, then you don’t understand!” are right … to a point. They’re right. Those of us in the civilian world don’t understand. We haven’t put ourselves in harm’s way. We haven’t been out in the middle of a desert, a swamp, or a mountain, with bullets flying overhead, where any person could be an enemy.

    We just don’t understand.

    But three points run counter to that.

    First, the “out of combat” perspective is just as valuable. If a service member takes morally questionable actions, sometimes it takes people outside of that war box — civilians, that is — to say, “Wait, that is wrong.” As far as war crimes go, this incident is not My Lai or Abu Ghraib. But if we are to follow certain veterans’ perspective: — “Go to war or STFU” — then we civilians should stand mute not only for such things as this, but also when our service members commit far more consequential war crimes.

    Second, Clausewitz calls war “politics by other means.” At the same time that these Marines desecrated dead Afghans, videotaped it, and uploaded it to YouTube, the politicians are trying to practice politics. That is, there was a secret effort under way to negotiate with the Taliban and perhaps bring this war to a close. Negotiating with the enemy and working with foreign governments (i.e. Hamid Karzai) are tricky things. You never know what item, out of your control, might suddenly send the other parties storming out of the room. While the Taliban have not stormed out of the metaphorical room here, there was nevertheless the risk … and no matter what culture you’re from, seeing the enemy’s troops desecrate your fellow soldiers’ corpses is an incentive to leave negotations.

    Third, it might be good to examine our government’s structure for a moment. The top military brass answer not to an all-powerful general, but to the Secretary of Defense and the President. And those men — civilians — are accountable to the American people, the vast majority of whom are civilian. Our Founding Fathers made the military subordinate to civilian authority,. When somebody says civilians should be silenced, I return again and again to the Founders’ wisdom. It’s worth keeping in mind.

    But then again, I’m a civilian. Maybe I should STFU.

  43. legion says:

    @tea: I do think we’re talking about two different things… I’m not talking about judging these Marines as people – they (and you) have been in situations other people truly cannot imagine. But that doesn’t remove the need for such people – maybe more so than any other people – to still be held to certain standards. I’m not saying these guys should be scorned and ridden out on a rail, but they do need to be punished somehow.

    Let’s just look at what happens if we (“we” being the rest of society that hasn’t “been there”) don’t do that. If we agree that being in crap situations like high-intensity combat removes the usual social mores from people. How then can we ever let those people _back_ into society? Think about some of the things soldiers have done in the heat of battle. Think about some of the things _you’ve_ done in the heat of battle. Yeah, I know some things have to be relaxed to retain any kind of sanity (let alone combat effectiveness), but we still need to have some lines that shouldn’t be crossed, even in the worst of situations.

  44. matt says:

    @matt: Oh man I love the downvote for a simple question..

  45. Franklin says:

    I’ve never served but I think it’s pretty common knowledge that humans have difficulty under extreme stress, no? Nothing will completely eliminate these incidences, but the military does a decent job of reducing them through training and punishment.

    The actual problem is politicians (and yeah I’ll include the perfectly acceptable chickenhawk pejorative) unnecessarily putting and keeping these folks in stressful situations. Next time your neocons call for war, add this to the list of reasons not to, and vote the f***ers out ASAP.

  46. Joseph says:

    @mantis:

    Well, apparently you were not paying much attention back then when the liberal media led by the NYT, WAPO and MSNBC along with an assist from the LAT and the Atlanta Constitutional to name a few others made the atrocities mentioned by West and others a one and done story along with commentary that we brought this on ourselves.

    Let’s face it. You are simply another on the left who believes America is responsible for everything wrong in the world and will miss no opportunity to apologize for anything we are accused of, just like your president who I am sure you view as your own personal gog.