WASHINGTON - He's moved from Iraq and Afghanistan to a new type of battlefield: Washington, D.C.
Retired Army Lt. Col Allen West is taking the Capitol by storm with his "take-no-prisoners" approach. Fresh off a rousing star turn at the annual CPAC convention in Washington, D.C., the freshman congressman from Florida recently spoke with CBN and outlined his vision for America.
"Stand firm," West told the CPAC audience to thunderous applause. "For this is the dawn of a new America." Conservatives are smitten with West. A 22-year Army veteran, he's a straight shooter with no love for political correctness.
"One of the things that I've noticed is that when you cross the Potomac, truth becomes subjective," West told CBN News. "And I will not subscribe to that."
Fighting Radical Islam
That includes his view on defeating radical Islam.
"Can we really defeat this enemy if we don't acknowledge the role that Islamic ideology plays in terrorism?" CBN News asked West.
"When you look at the national security strategy, it does not talk about jihadism, does not talk about Islamic terrorism, does not talk about Muslim extremism--as a matter of fact, it talks more about global warming and climate change," he answered.
"We have to be able to stand up and forthrightly declare there is an ideology out there that's fueling this thing," he said "You can't say this is a 'war on terrorism.' Terrorism is a tactic, and a nation can't fight a tactic."
"And we have to have that dialogue up here in the halls of Congress and among our leadership," he continued. "Or else, we're just going to head down the road to perdition."
When it comes to battling Islamic jihadists, West speaks from personal experience. The Bronze Star winner served in operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and trained Afghan officers.
Now, with Iran driving to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the Middle East, West sees another threat that must be confronted.
"They want the return of the hidden imam," he said. "And that can only occur with an apocalyptic event. And they believe dropping something on Israel is that event."
"And I think that eventually, the time of sanctions will have to cease and you'll have to take a look at their military capability, which you'll have to take out," he continued.
Rising GOP Star
West's combination of national security street cred and fiscal conservatism resonated with voters in Florida's 22nd District.
He defeated the Democratic incumbent in November by a whopping 10 percentage points.
The Tea Party favorite generated buzz with speeches that became YouTube smash hits. He articulated his message again for CBN News:
"To restore our Republic and understand that a Republic is based upon the rule of law and the respect of individual rights and freedoms," he said. "To recommit to our constitutional principles and values and to reclaim our American pride."
"And I think the two main focuses for me tie to the committees I'm on -- the Armed Services Committee and the Small Business Committee," he continued. "It's the economic security and the national security of the United States of America and its citizens."
That God-and-country, conservative philosophy was instilled in West as a young man growing up in the inner city of Atlanta--the third of four generations of military servicemen in his family.
"If it wasn't for the fact that my mother and father raised me to believe in something that is greater than myself," he told CBN News. "When you come into those hard times, you have to have prayer, you have to have a conviction of spirit."
"And when you leave out of here, you'll see the prayer of Jabez, I Chronicles 4:7. That's what I live by," he said. "That God will bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that has hand will be upon me to keep me from evil and so that I may not cause harm." One of West's goals on Capitol Hill is to help roll back a healthcare law that he says has caused a whole lot of harm for average Americans.
"Out of that 2,500 pages, maybe ten pages are worth keeping--the other 2,490 need to be scrapped," he said.
"Now, if we don't have the consent from the Senate to go forward, then what we're going to do is take it on piecemeal," he continued. "Because it's a failure. It does affect our jobs, it does affect our economy."
"Eleven new taxes, $500 billion in cuts to Medicare. The small businesses that are dropping people off of their healthcare plans, insurance rates that are going up," he continued.
An Undivided Jerusalem
Health care is just one area where West differs sharply with President Obama. Another is the administration's push to divide the city of Jerusalem.
CBN News asked West why it was so important that Jerusalem remains a part of Israel proper.
"When you look at Jerusalem, it's always been the capital of Israel," he explained. "Israel has been around for 5,771 years. In 1948, the modern state of Israel was resurrected. So when we talk about returning this land back to the rightful owners and people, I have to tell you, that's the Jewish people."
West sees a growing threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that many fear will seize control in Egypt, and which also operates closer to home.
"It is a plan to infiltrate into the United States of America and into our operating systems, be it cultural, religous, economic, educational, political, and cause the downfall of our consititutional Republic from within," he said of the Brotherhood's strategy.
"And this is a Muslim Brotherhood that is tied to terrorist activities all across our globe," he added.
Resurrecting the American Spirit
Despite threats facing an America that some analysts say is in decline, West is confident that he can help right the ship on Capitol Hill and leave a stronger country for his two daughters.
"For whatever reason, we tried this big government, liberal progressive agenda for the last two years," he said. "We've seen that it's not going in the right direction, so we're going self correct ourselves."
"Because what made America great in 234 years was not a large government, but an indomitable American spirit," he said. "And that's what we're going to resurrect."
*Originally broadcast on March 2, 2011.