- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 13, 2004

Thursday, the calendar reminded us, was Veterans Day. But few Americans paused to honor those who have served in our Armed Forces.

Ceremonies were held at veteran’s cemeteries, but there were few parades. The veteran’s hospital I called last week didn’t record any perceptible increase in visitors. Perhaps that’s so because few of us know much about the history of the wars fought so we could stay free.

When I speak to high-school or college students steeped in a culture of instant gratification, most are surprised to learn America’s wars have usually been long, bloody affairs — not quick victories. Few know, for example, that for the first six months of World War II, America lost every significant engagement; that it was not until Midway in June 1942, that we won our first major battle. Nor are they aware it wasn’t until August, nine months after Pearl Harbor, with the Marine landings on Guadalcanal, that we finally went on the offensive.

During that terrible time, when victory was anything but certain, Americans learned about wartime events on the radio, in hometown newspapers and through “newsreels” at local theaters. But now, thanks to tiny video cameras, lightweight global television uplinks and satellite phones, Americans watch wars as they happen — like an NFL game — play by play.

Today, war is broadcast into our homes with “color commentary” by armchair admirals and broadcast brigadiers. Many of these sound-bite special forces critique the commanders and troops in the field in purporting to analyze major plays and minor skirmishes. Chester Nimitz, Archer Vandegrift and Dwight Eisenhower were fortunate to fight their war without the “benefit” of such help.

Unfortunately, today’s adversaries avail themselves of this “coverage” — and often use the medium against us. This week, U.S. troops in Fallujah found televisions and satellite dishes tuned to a U.S. cable news network and computers linked to the Web pages of American newspapers.

In the slaughterhouses where kidnap victims were tortured and beheaded, video cameras, tapes and DVDs of the atrocities were confiscated. The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade — a creation of the much mourned Yasser Arafat — perfected the videotaping of suicide terrorists. And in Iraq, improvised explosives are placed with cameras pointed at them so Al Jazeera can broadcast their deadly detonations and exhort others to Jihad.

Interestingly, now that U.S. and Iraqi government forces are in the terrorists’ lair and the radicals are on the run, Al Jazeera has been reduced to pirating American TV images. Apparently the terrorists the Al Jazeera cameramen have been living among don’t want to be videotaped in women’s clothing while fleeing like cowards from allied troops.

That’s not all the so-called Arab press doesn’t cover. The same outlets that gleefully showed Abu Musab Zarqawi’s thugs firing AK-47s, RPGs and mortars at U.S. and Iraqi troops, somehow missed Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi — not an American — ordering restoration of law and order in Fallujah. Hardly mentioned was his appeal for dialogue before the operation or the Iraqi government’s humanitarian call for civilian evacuation of the city before military action began.

Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and the other major Middle Eastern outlets have all but ignored the success of the Iraqi forces in this operation. Miles of combat footage has aired showing U.S. Marines and soldiers, their LAVs, AAVs, M-1 tanks, Armored Humvees, Strykers and Bradley fighting vehicles. But scant coverage has been given the nearly 4,000 Iraqi National Guardsmen fighting beside 11,000 Americans.

Prior to the operation, interim Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shalan told his soldiers: “Your conscience and families call for you. They call for you to liberate this city.” A 28-year-old Iraqi National Guardsman said: “We are here to defend our country. The world looks down on Iraq now because of the terrorists who are not Iraqi. We will make them see Iraqi men ending the terrorism.” And they are doing so, though seen by few in the Arab world.

One of the first objectives inside Fallujah was the city hospital — a terrorist stronghold. It was captured quickly by U.S. and Iraqi Special Forces. As soon as it was secured, American and Iraqi doctors and nurses reopened the facility to treat civilians. The two major bridges over the Euphrates River were taken undamaged, opening supply routes for food and medicine into the city. When fire was received from the green-domed Muhammadia Mosque that the terrorists used as a command center, Iraqi troops occupied it.

Instead of covering these events as they deserved to be covered — and giving Iraqi troops the credit earned — the international media lament the “unilateral action” by U.S. troops and a “needless loss of innocent life.” Rather than praise the Iraqis for fighting the terrorist menace to their homeland, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan chose to warn, “The use of force could destabilize the country at a critical point in the preparation for elections.”

Hogwash. Without this intervention, January elections would be impossible. Fallujah is the beginning of the end for those bent on subverting democracy in Iraq.

The slaughterhouses where kidnappers filmed hostage beheadings are closed. The bomb factories are out of business. The terrorists are on the run.

Once again, American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — a new generation of veterans — have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a brave ally to offer others the hope of freedom.

Whether the mainstream U.S. media, the international press or the U.N. acknowledge it or not, the people of Iraq now have a government of, by and for the people within their grasp.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance. He is also the host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel.

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