Georgy Gounev, June 21, 2009
When I heard the name of Lieutenant Colonel Allen West (West) I never imagined that one day I would know the man well enough in order to write about him. Several years ago there was a TV report about a military officer whose extremely promising military career that lasted for 22 years and had led him through the battlefields of the First Gulf War and Iraq had been interrupted by a rather dramatic incident…
West was kind enough to share his ideas and concepts about the war against the Islamo-Totalitarianism for the needs of the book I am working on devoted to the Islamization of Europe and its impact on the American-Russian relations. What will follow is, a short interview, West gave me especially for Serbianna.
GG: Lt Col West, allow me to express my gratitude for your time. My first question is how do you feel about the current stage of the conflict between the United States and the Islamo-Totalitarian assault on the world?
AW: This is a very painful and somewhat confusing question, because the current administration creates the impression that there is no such conflict whatsoever. In his speech in Cairo, for instance, President Obama didn’t mention such terms as “war” or “terror.”
GG: The fact that those terms are ignored does not mean that they don’t exist, correct?
AW: They not only “exist” but their deliberate neglect aggravates the situation because the demobilization of the public opinion will facilitate the actions of the enemy.
GG: You have a unique fighting experience that lasted almost four years on the territory of three Muslim countries. What is your impression of the attitude of the Muslim community toward the Coalition forces?
AW: There is no simple answer to a complicated question. The people of Kuwait, for instance, were extremely happy when we liberated them from the short but bloody rule of Saddam Hussein. As far the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned, the things are more complicated but what I can tell you is that for me every Iraqi or Afghan soldier was a brother in arms. As far as the reactions of the civil population are concerned, in Iraq I witnessed many examples of positive gestures toward us, and several of them, saved the lives of our soldiers.
GG: What about Afghanistan?
AW: In Afghanistan we see substantially less contact with the local population. Don’t forget the geographical factor: Afghanistan is a much larger country than Iraq – it has a very harsh mountainous terrain, with an extremely poor road system. Besides, the country is much more clannish, and much more divided by tribal differences than Iraq.
GG: Serbianna is a site devoted primarily, if not exclusively to the Balkan issues. Do you have any opinion on the problems plaguing the area?
AW:. The Balkans are not a focused point of expertise for me but, of course, I have some basic ideas about the most important developments in the area.
GG: Allow me, Sir, to be absolutely honest with you – the people in the Balkan area think that the American policymakers are ignorant about their region and don’t care at all about its problems. Given the fact that I am Bulgarian, and I am contributing to a site devoted primarily with Serbia related problems, it would be logical to ask you a simple question: do you have any idea about the history and the present problems of both countries? Let me be more specific: If you are in position of a Washington based decision maker, what kind of policy would you recommend with regard to Serbia?
AW: The problem involving American – Serbian relations is not as complicated as some of our politicians think. It is true that we were involved in a conflict with Serbia because of the politics of Milosevic, who in my mind was a totalitarian dictator, who had committed a lot of crimes like, for instance, the forceful removal of the Albanian population of Kosovo. Later however, our politicians committed a mistake by not defending the Serbian residents of Kosovo who were forced to abandon their homes. I think that the best solution to the Kosovo problem would have been the granting of the largest possible autonomy to the province within the borders of Serbia under some kind of temporary international control, making sure that the rights of the Albanian and Serbian residents of the area were fully protected. Our Department of State however, demonstrated a lot of ignorance and lack of sensitivity with regard to the creation of an independent state on the territory of Kosovo.
GG: What do you mean?
AW: Kosovo was the battle field where the Serbian Army fought to the last man in 1387, I think, against the Ottoman’s expansion into the Balkans. It is vital to study and understand how history affects international relations in this present time. We can ill afford the sanctioning of a new radical Islamic terrorism sanctuary in the Balkans, where they remember the Battle of Kosovo. Today, I believe Serbia also will resist the assault of Islamo-Totalitarianism on the European civilization and democracy, and with this fact in mind, if I am in the theoretical position of a decision maker mentioned by you, I wouldn’t have spared my efforts in order to improve the American-Serbian relations.
GG: Sir, we are both teachers of history, allow me to make a slight correction-the battle at Kosovo Pole took place in 1389…On the other hand, however, with all due respect to the other candidates for the Congress of the United States, I don’t believe that anyone of them would have been able to match your amount of knowledge of the history and the problems of the Balkan area.
AW: Give me, please the opportunity to make it up for my mistake… The first thing that comes to my mind with the mentioning of Bulgaria, is the fact that your people didn’t allow the transportation of the Bulgarian Jews to Hitler’s extermination camps. It was a unique fact in the war-time history of Europe for which the Bulgarian People deserve a lot of credit.
GG: Lieutenant Colonel West, I am becoming emotional at this point, but allow me as an old teacher of history to add for the sake of the historical truth that the Bulgarian authorities in the occupied territories did send about 11,000 Jews to their death.
On the other hand, however, given the fact that 48,000 Jewish residents of Bulgaria survived the war makes me really proud, and I am grateful to you for mentioning this fact. Please, accept as well my deep gratitude for your time. Let me finish with the statement that from the bottom of my heart, I wish you a victory during the elections for the US Congress, in 2010!
AW: You are welcome, Sir, and thank you for your support.
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