The failure of the United States to recognize radical Islam as the driving force behind terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and beyond makes it impossible to address the problem and will quickly lead to instability there once the U.S. is gone, warns a former Pentagon official who has spent countless days embedded with U.S. forces.
Bing West is a Vietnam veteran who served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and was frequently embedded with American troops, usually Marines, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to accusing the U.S. of turning a blind eye to radical Muslims, he is also ripping political and military leaders for what he considers their wrongheaded strategies and tactics throughout the past 13 years.
Security concerns arose again Tuesday with the news that U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed by a Afghan soldier during a training program. Despite multiple stories of this type of killing in recent years, West said the problem is not with the program but with the true motivation for these attacks.
“The problem in Afghanistan goes to the heart of the conflict that, unfortunately, the administration will not admit. This is a religious-based conflict. This is terrorism by dedicated Islamists who have committed to a jihad against the West and against all their enemies,” he said. “They believe it ferociously, and it is at the soul of their being.”
West said there are plenty of trustworthy, hard-working Afghan soldiers, but he said even Afghan-Americans charged with obtaining intelligence from these Afghan fighters struggle to distinguish the good from the bad.
“I’ve spoken with a lot of them and said, ‘Look, can you tell a Taliban? Can you tell a genuine Islamist who’s out to kill you?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely not. They lie so well.’ Then they went on to say many times they don’t even know what they’re going to do themselves,” West said.
“You see a man praying, but just because he’s praying doesn’t mean he’s on a jihad,” he said, “but some of them are, and the very best people we have cannot differentiate ahead of time.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Bing West:
He said the Obama administration is ignoring this obvious motivating factor at the nation's peril for the sake of its cultural agenda.
"There's this liberalism gone amok, notion of secularism where you cannot admit that religion plays any part in anyone's life," said West, noting that even the admitted terrorist attack at Fort Hood by Maj. Nidal Hasan was labeled "workplace violence" by the Army.
"It's extended far beyond the Obama administration, this denial that a person can be motivated by his religion. It's It's frightening," he said. "Therefore, if you say that, you're considered to be some sort of bigot."
West said all Americans are suffering as a result of a relentless effort to protect the reputation of Islam.
"You have no way of making it legitimate to do investigations based upon religion or ethnicity," West explained. "Therefore, everybody from a 90-year-old grandmother has to take her shoes off to go through the machines, etc. to get on an aircraft. We absolutely, resolutely refuse to look at the truth of who's trying to kill us."
As the U.S. gets closer to removing the vast majority of its forces from Afghanistan, West believes it's clear America's long-term strategy was deeply flawed from the beginning and gave the benefit of the doubt to political and military leaders who didn't deserve it.
"I think we went entirely too far in Afghanistan. I love our troops. I spent all that time out there. My next book is all about how brave the troops are. But I do not stand up and applaud our generals who sent us down the wrong path," said West, adding that even the most acclaimed military leaders are not held in high regard by the ones who matter most.
"We have certain generals, like Gen. (David) Petraeus and Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal, that we say are huge heroes. Well, down at the platoon level you have a different view. I believe that some of our famous generals were naive, so naive that the troops at the bottom know they are naive," he said.
"They were just wrong about Afghanistan and Iraq. ... If you're going to fight the tough guy, you have to want to go into that battle to kill him and to win, none of this stuff about saying you're out to 'win the hearts and minds' of people. That's not war. You go into war, you have to be determined to fight," West said.
What is likely to happen in Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves? West said the chaos will descend rather quickly.
"The fissures in that society run so deep that regardless of what we do as we pull out, there's going to be continued violence," he said. "Pakistan is determined that they are going to have a government that they can tell what to do. Therefore, the idea that there's going to be any kind of peace in Afghanistan simply isn't true."
However, West is also confident that Afghanistan will not pose the same kind of threat to the United States that it did leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The notion that Afghans are going to be attacking the United States isn't true, either," he said. "If we have a problem with Afghans, just don't give them visas. We don't have to go through all this stuff of building nations to prevent somebody from coming to the United States and taking pilot lessons."