BizPAC Review alerted us to this interesting snippet of a speech from U.S. Rep. Allen West, a retired colonel, who was asked about new reports of Russia wanting a new military base in Cuba.
It's unclear right now if Russia really wants a base that could be as close as 90 miles away from U.S. shores. Russia's top naval officer said on state TV Friday that it's in talks to build a base or bases in Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles island nation in the Indian Ocean. But then, on Saturday, Russia's foreign minister dismissed the talk as a media "fantasy."
Asked about the possibility of a Russian base in Cuba and President Obama's possible response, West said he couldn't speculate about what would happen. But he expressed concerns about multiple threats in our hemisphere:
"Cuba is looking for a new sugar daddy. And when you look at what's happening in our hemisphere, as a I say, you have Iran in our hemisphere. You're looking at Russian naval vessels coming into our hemisphere. Now, if you go down and talk to the United States Southern Command in Miami, Florida, who oversees this hemisphere all the way down to Latin America, the only real military presence we have is the Coast Guard. We don't have anything in this hemisphere. But yet you have Hezbolla training camps, you have Hugo Chavez, you have the Ortega brothers, you have narco traffickers in Mexico that are working with Iran and Hezbollah. How much did you hear about the assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador and also the Israeli ambassador?...."
West's comments leave the impression that the United States is militarily naked in South Florida. It's not.
Also, the level of Iran's and Hezbollah's involvement in Venezuela and Mexico are open to debate. Earlier this month, on the Spanish-language channel America TeVe, Obama downplayed the ties between Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Iran. Said Obama:
"We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe. But overall my sense is ... that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us... We have to be vigilant. My main concern when it comes to Venezuela is having the Venezuelan people have a voice in their affairs, and that you end up ultimately having fair and free elections, which we don't always see."
"Unfortunately, I will tell you this, the president does not think that Hugo Chavez is a credible threat," West said (actually, the president. And as soon as you don't think someone is a credible threat they will become a credible threat. We have a soft underbelly right here in the United States of America as we look to our South. This is how military people think: wherever you are weak, wherever you have a gap, that's where I'm going to attack you."
Someone from the crowd mentioned "Sun Tzu," the Chinese military strategist and author of The Art of War.
"That is Sun Tzu," West said. "And more people in Washington, D.C. should be reading Sun Tzu. But I guess they read Doonesbury or something."
If West's Congressional colleagues read their Sun Tzu, they might want to pull out more quickly from Afghanistan, the United State's longest war and a place known for centuries as the graveyard of empires (Alexander the Great, after whom Kandahar is named, didn't stay).
"If the [war] campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain," Sun Tzu writes. "There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."
On that last point, the Iraq war vet West can easily qualify as an expert.