February 22, 2012 | 6:39pm
Congressman Allen West has had enough of these half-assed wars in the Middle East.
While West was focused mainly on Obama's spending policies at his town hall meeting in Deerfield Beach on Wednesday afternoon, he was also very critical of cuts to military funding and foreign policy interactions that he said made the U.S. look weak, particularly in China, Iran, Egypt, and Syria.
And West said the only way to wage war in Syria is just to blow the place up.
"In Syria now, you have Iranian revolutionary guards, you have al Qaeda, fighting it out on the streets. If we get involved with Syria, you better be willing to fight a total war, 'cause that's what it will take," West said. "You cannot fight a half-measure war with these very nebulous rules of engagement like we've seen in Afghanistan and Iraq and, of course, back in Vietnam."
The French Revolution of 1789 had seen the first attempts to harness citizenship and patriotism to a national war effort. In the ideology of revolutionary France, young men were conscripted into the armed forces as part of their duty as citizens, but the remaining population was also expected to make personal sacrifices for the war, blurring the distinction between civilian and soldier.
Known at first as "People's War," this idea developed in the 19th century as part of a growing sense of national identity. By the middle of World War One it was known as "Total War" -- the organisation of entire societies for war in a social, economic, and even spiritual sense.
Later in the town hall, however, West immediately shot down the idea of reinstating the military draft when asked about it by a constituent:
"I don't want people that's been pressed into servitude. Because there are some kids, and you know, you seem them around here, they got orange hair, green hair," West said. "It'd be a nightmare. It'd be like what's his name, Stripes, Bill Murray. I don't want Bill Murray in the Army. I want professionals."
So it seems more likely West was talking about the part of total war in which one side tries to completely destroy the enemies' will and ability to fight. When the U.S. dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and killed more than 150,000 people, it was total war that was used as justification.
West didn't say anything about diplomacy or nation-building or anything of the sort. He laid out what he said were grave dangers -- extremists in Egypt, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting Cuba -- and said the track military spending is currently on is not the one that will leave the country prepared to defend itself.
"I say give 'em the right size of a military based on the threat that is out there, give them the tools, and give them the right type of orders and rules of engagement to go kick the enemy's ass," he said.