QUOTE OF THE DAY…. As developments unfold in Libya, there’s no shortage of opinions, analyses, warnings, and predictions. That’s a good thing — military interventions should be subjected to intense scrutiny and debate.

But when it comes criticism of the administration, I think Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) deserves some kind of award for offering the single dumbest commentary available to date.

“The world is going to hell. And I don’t know any other way to say it. When you look at what’s happening in Libya, I don’t care what anyone says; you can’t win away from 30,000 feet. I’ve been on the battle field before. I don’t know why we’re shooting $567,000 a piece Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya. You know, back two or three weeks ago, we could have taken care of this situation if we had done the exact same thing that Ronald Reagan did back in the early 80’s to Muammar Gaddafi, when he dropped the bomb in his back yard. Muammar Gaddafi didn’t say a word for the next 30 years.”


First, when West boasts about having been “on the battle field,” it’s worth noting that during his service in Iraq, he was forced to retire from the Army for engaging in abusive interrogation techniques. His military tenure scandalous, not the kind of record that lends a politician credibility.

Second, West says he doesn’t know why U.S. forces are firing into Libya. He doesn’t? It’s really not complicated — we’re part of a coalition enforcing a United Nations Security Council resolution. There’s ample reason to think it’s a bad idea, but the reason for the offensive isn’t exactly a mystery.

And as for the misplaced Reagan worship, in 1986 — not “the early 80s” — U.S. forces launched airstrikes against multiple targets in Libya after the Gadhafi regime was linked to a terrorist attack in Germany. Reagan did not drop “the bomb,” but rather, used conventional weapons.

But the notion that Gadhafi, following the 1986 strikes, “didn’t say a word for the next 30 years” is ridiculous. Walid Zafar explained, Gadhafi soon after declared his intention to become emperor of Africa; his government orchestrated the Lockerbie bombing two years later; and Gadhafi’s interest in a nuclear program only grew in the wake of the Reagan administration’s efforts.

In other words, Allen West has no idea what he’s talking about, and he’s addressing what he considers his area of expertise. Indeed, House Republicans recently put him on the House Armed Services Committee because of his knowledgeable background on military matters.

The mind reels.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.