- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

PORT HUENEME, Calif.

This sprawling U.S. Navy Construction Center, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, is “home port” for thousands of “Sea-Bees” deployed in the global war on terror. These “warriors who build” with a legendary “can-do” spirit are busy repairing schools and hospitals in Iraq, building roads and runways in Afghanistan and helping forge a safer future in places with names most Americans can’t even pronounce.

Though most men and women in the Naval Mobile Construction Battalions are reservists with good private sector jobs, all I have spoken with — here in the U.S. or overseas — support our mission in Iraq. Many express hope their commander in chief “bats one out of the park” next Tuesday when he addresses the Congress and the nation on the State of the Union. Those sentiments are fairly standard among the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines I cover for FOX News. Anyone in doubt need only watch the troops interviewed for our War Stories Special Report, “Inside Iraq: Eyewitness to History.” [FOX News Channel, Sunday at 8:00 p.m. EST/PST.]

Unfortunately, the courage and steadfast resolve of those who serve is unmatched by those they serve. Whether it’s polls, pundits or politicians, it’s pretty clear President Bush has his work cut out for him in convincing the American people we are in a fight we dare not lose — and that we really are winning.

The anti-Bush partisan politicians who began howling even before his first Inaugural in 2001 have now become a full-blown anti-military movement — complete with a senior member of Congress advocating that young Americans spurn service in the Armed Forces and urging those in uniform to disobey orders.

The potentates of the press have upped the ante as well. For more than two years, the left has made the claim, “We support the troops — but not their fight.” Now there is growing evidence they support neither.

In last Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times, liberal columnist Joel Stein confessed, “I don’t support the troops. … I’m not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest [sic] positions the pacifists have ever taken.” He continued, “I’m not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn’t be celebrating people for doing something we don’t think was a good idea.”

These growing sentiments — shared by many who perceive Mr. Bush is already a wounded lame duck — bode ill for the future, unless Tuesday evening he can deliver a clear vision for the days ahead. This will be no mean task.

The president’s domestic opponents have been emboldened by the administration’s paltry response to charges the National Security Agency secretly has been “spying on American citizens.” Some in Old Europe and others in Washington are taking seriously Osama bin Laden’s recent audio tape in which the terror mastermind claims, “We don’t mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to.”

Ariel Sharon’s incapacitating stroke and the apparent success of Hamas — an admitted terrorist organization — in this week’s Palestinian elections have thrown the Middle East peace process into turmoil. And now, the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program coupled with fearmongering over energy supplies is generating momentum among the same capitulationists who used to warn we could never prevail against the Soviet Union.

It won’t be enough for the president Tuesday night to remind Americans the economy continuues growing (4.1 percent last quarter) or that unemployment is now down to 4.9 percent. The masters of the media have already identified the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America members they will put on the air to blame the Bush administration for 30,000 Ford Motor Co. layoffs. Nor will it suffice to note troop levels in Iraq are already dropping — as are U.S. casualty rates — down 26 percent from a year ago.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush must address all these issues. But most importantly, he must reassure the undecided and uncertain he has a clear plan for victory in the global war on terror. He would do well to remind the American people it is thanks to heroes wearing uniforms and intelligence operations, like those undertaken by the NSA, that we have had no terror attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

He must reject bin Laden’s “truce” bid for what it is — a page torn from Ho Chi Minh’s playbook on how to stave off a U.S. military victory. And while the French, Germans and Russians dither over what to do about Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, Mr. Bush should point them in the right direction by rejecting an Iranian appeal for direct commercial flights to and from the United States. Finally, he should appeal directly to the American people to demonstrate the same kind of resolve our Armed Forces have displayed in defending this Union.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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