Rep. Allen West denounces the Occupy Wall Street movement for “laughable hypocrisy” and contends that it is dangerous that some in Washington, including President Barack Obama, are embracing the nationwide wave of protests.
West, who was elected in 2010, is a member of the House Tea Party Caucus and the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in 2004.
In the exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, West expressed sharp criticism of the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan and elsewhere.
“I think the hypocrisy of this movement is somewhat laughable,” he declares. “I would agree with them that we don’t need to have crony capitalism in the United States of America, where we have government picking winners or losers in the free market or trying to be a venture capitalist. But when I see signs that these people are holding up signs saying ‘end capitalism,’ then my question is: What do you replace it with?
“I think there is a danger in the people on Capitol Hill starting to embrace this movement, especially now that we know that the American Nazi Party and the American Communist Party are also starting to align themselves with this Occupy movement.
“When you really start to peel the onion back and look at some of the things these protesters want to see in America, it is contradictory to the foundational principles and values that we have in the United States.
“If they want to see more bureaucracy and a larger government, then more of them are going to be unemployed because bigger government means higher taxation. Maybe that’s what they want. But they’re going to see less and less of their individual rights and freedoms.”
Rep. West dismissed assertions that the Occupy Wall Street movement is the tea party of the left.
“When you talk to somebody with the tea party, they can tell you what they want – limited government that’s constitutionally mandated, fiscal responsibility, they also want to see our free market and free enterprise systems adhered to, as well as our national security,” he says.
“But when you talk to these Occupy Wall Street gangs, they’re all over the place. It’s like a shotgun as opposed to a precision-guided munition.”
He also dismissed protesters’ claim that Wall Street is responsible for the nation’s economic woes and high unemployment. He also disputed Obama’s contention that Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported the Occupy protesters.
The economic troubles are the responsibility of “Washington, D.C., and the policies thereof,” he maintains. “And when you talk about the unemployment rate, it’s very simple. We have just hit a thousand days under President Obama. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took over. The unemployment rate now is 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate in the African-American community is almost 17 percent.
“It has nothing to do with Wall Street. It has everything to do with the failed policies coming out of the Obama administration.
“Martin Luther King Jr. would not have backed these types of protesters. He had a focus, a message. He was divinely inspired. I don’t know what the inspiration is for these individuals.”
West was asked whether Obama’s stated support for the Occupy Wall Street movement ultimately could lead to violence on the part of protesters.
“I’m very concerned about class warfare rhetoric,” he tells Newsmax.
“What the president doesn’t understand is that where you are born in America does not determine your station later in life. America is not about class. It’s not about caste.
“One question I would ask the president: If he is embracing this movement, why didn’t he embrace the freedom movement in Iran? So once again I think he’s throwing his lot in with the bad people.”
The Obama administration announced a plan to send 100 U.S. military personnel to Uganda to help fight an insurgent group accused of committing atrocities in the region. West, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was asked whether that mission serves any vital American interests.
“Absolutely not,” he responds. “You’re talking about 100 special operators going into the middle of Africa. This is once again a violation of the War Powers Act. We saw that with Libya.”
Obama campaigned on pledges to end America’s military engagements but he has gotten the U.S. involved in more conflicts than his predecessor George W. Bush – the nation is still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and has launched operations in Libya and central Africa.
“Once again, the hypocrisy is laughable,” West comments.
“I think he should dust off the Nobel Peace Prize and give it back.
“When you look at Libya and what’s happening with this Uganda mission, the fact that he did launch drone attacks against [al-Qaida], he’s not living up to what the left wants. He’s trying to do a very interesting balancing act of showing that he’s tough but not so tough. Once again, it’s this lead-from-behind philosophy that he has.
“But we don’t need to commit our forces in the middle of something in Africa where we don’t understand the strategic goal and objective.”
West adds that Attorney General Holder “absolutely” should resign over the Fast and Furious scandal.
Holder has denied authorizing the scheme under which agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were told not to intervene to stop guns bought in the United States from crossing the border into Mexico. The plan was to trace the weapons in the hope they would lead to leaders of vicious drug cartels.
“He definitely could be complicit in what could be criminal actions,” West alleges.
“If we end up finding out that he lied or if he did have knowledge of this operation going on or if he tried to obstruct any investigation thereof, this is a very serious thing for the Obama administration and another series of faux pas for Eric Holder. So I think he should do the honorable thing and resign and take full responsibility for what has happened.”