Saturday, October 6, 2012

Allen West's visit to Israel schools Obama in leadership


 Marc Kahlberg
 BIZPAC Review
 October 6, 2012
Leadership is a trait known to many, learned by some and perfected by few. It is not something that can be inherited or passed on or even learned in a textbook. It’s about taking responsibility, and has to be earned on a daily basis.
John F. Kennedy perhaps described it best: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Ronald Reagan praised Kennedy’s words of wisdom, adding his own: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
In December 2009, at an Israel seminar I hosted on security challenges in a radically changing world, I was introduced to a leader bearing the same characteristics of both these great men. I was afforded the privilege of spending several days with Lt. Col. Allen West.
Along with 12 other delegates from Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe, the American military officer’s leadership qualities were instantly apparent.
While discussing the Middle East and Africa, where radicalism and terror has been as much a concern as the cost in human life is alarming, West presented his views on a more violent turbulence that “would surely sweep over Africa, the Middle East and spill off into Europe.” He said it was essential that America was strong on foreign policy because “any signs of weakness shown by the United States would trigger radical Muslim elements into an even more violent campaign.” How right he was, as we have seen the seasons change from an Arab Spring to an Arab storm of carnage and death.
During a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, West said he has a personal commitment to “not allow the mad ideology of Islamic totalitarianism to bring forth another holocaust.” He explained that those who fail to learn from history are doomed, citing as examples Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons buildup and a Muslim Brotherhood waiting in the wings to achieve its radical ambitions through coercion and deception.
“Israel is envied by the world at large for their progress and success in building, educating and progressing amidst such great existential challenges on a daily basis,” West said. “However, there are those that refuse to learn as their envy is negative and dominated by hate and jealousy.”
West told me in a private discussion that, as a former military man, he knew a strong Israel Defense Forces would always be a guarantee for Israel’s existence and that it was essential that the United States have a backbone in aiding a friend and true ally at all times and on all global political platforms.
Today, while the world discusses, somewhat irresponsibly and in great detail, Israel’s decision whether or not to strike at Iran’s nuclear program to avert a human catastrophe, Egypt belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and the clocks of history seem to have taken us back 45 years. Syria will no doubt lose more and more people to the horrors of terror, war and war crimes, and the threat of chemical weapons will certainly offer a daunting challenge for Israel’s decision-makers as the world watches lethargically.
As West said in December 2009, it is ironic that the same dilemmas faced by decision-makers in 1967 no doubt face decision-makers today.
Meir Amit, who headed Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency at the time of the 1967 Six-Day War, described the events leading up to that conflict, as told in transcripts of his meeting with the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv.
“The American CIA agent actually threatened Israel and did all in his power to prevent Israel from acting to forestall the threat to its very existence from Egypt and other Arab states that are ready and poised to strike,” the transcript says.
The lessons of the Six-Day War put into perspective our current dilemma about pre-empting Iran’s ability to threaten the Jewish state with extinction via nuclear weapons.
I can’t say whether or not Israel will go ahead and strike Iran, even if -- as was the case in 1967 -- it must happen over the United States’ objections.
What is certain today, and as West pointed out so clearly in 2009, “We must learn from history.”
Pictures from Wests 2009 Israeli visit:
West speaking at the MKISC Safe City Conference in Tel Aviv – December, 2009
West in Hebron while participating in the MKISC Experience Israel Training Program – December, 2009 West with the Tel Aviv District Police Chief in 2009

Marc Kahlberg, a senior security advisor and frequent commentator for the Jerusalem Post, has appeared on many major International television and radio networks, including CNN, CBS, Fox, BBC and more. As an acting member on a security council in a city of Israel, and a retired Isreal police officer, Marc’s reports are coming from the frontlines of the region.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent those of BIZPAC Review, its management, staff or advertisers.