- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 24, 2006

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Winston S. Churchill

Churchill delivered that line in the British House of Commons on May 13, 1940, in his first address as Prime Minister. As he was speaking, the French and British armies were reeling from Adolf Hitler’s onslaught through neutral Belgium. It’s a good thing Churchill didn’t have “war heroes” like Democrats Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania in Parliament. Otherwise Great Britain might have been compelled to surrender at Dunkirk.

Regrettably, Messrs Kerry and Murtha are but the most visible and strident members of an increasingly ambitious cult of catastrophe. Though they claim to “support the troops,” this is no “loyal opposition.” Instead, their party — and a pliant press corps — have pushed this dynamic duo to the fore in demanding that the U.S. abandon Iraq and forgo any hope for success in the Global War on Terror. To them, and the broader capitulationist cabal to which they belong, there shall be no “good news” from the battlefield, every American casualty is regarded as a campaign issue and only critics of the war have credibility.

It’s apparent from last week’s acrimonious debate in the House of Representatives and this week’s raucous ranting in the Senate, that their party’s leadership believes a steady drumbeat of dismal defeatism is the best way to return Democrats to power in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen — but the “surrender now crowd” has unquestionably emboldened our adversaries and disheartened our allies overseas. A few recent examples:

Tokyo, alarmed over North Korean willingness to flight test its multistage, nuclear-capable Taepo-dong II intercontinental missile has decided to withdraw its 600 troops from Iraq and bring them home in the event an emboldened Pyongyang becomes more aggressive.

From Caracas, Venezuelan strong-man Hugo Chavez, awash in petrodollars, is actively intervening in the coming Nicaraguan elections. With overt and covert help from self-described “Bolivarian Socialist” Chavez, Daniel Ortega and his Sandinistas are poised to reassert control over Nicaragua.

In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perceiving weakened American resolve, is slow-rolling a U.S.-European proposal offering incentives for Iran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program. Meanwhile, the Iranians continue their crash program to install and “spin-up” more centrifuge arrays — essential to manufacturing weapons-grade nuclear material.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, a coalition of radical Islamic groups, calling itself the Islamic Courts Union, has proclaimed it now administers the Somali capital under “religious law.” Though U.S. and allied forces are in neighboring Djibouti, the clerics and Islamic radicals appear confident that political discord in Washington will prevent any interference with their plans for a Taliban-like regime.

And to prove again that “good news” in Iraq is “no news” back home, the leaders of the “Get Out Now” movement either ignored or derided the announcement this week by Republicans Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, that “more than 500 artillery rounds containing Sarin and mustard gases have been found in Iraq.” Rather than congratulate U.S. troops for locating and destroying these weapons that would be lethal in the hands of terrorists, the “Blame America First” crowd denounced the find as “nothing but old ammunition dating to before the first Gulf war.”

Until now troops fighting the war have shrugged off the critics. Because they understand the consequences better than most, they have largely ignored calls from the Kerry-Murtha Axis to set a “hard and fast deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces.” To an extraordinary extent, they have continued re-enlisting and volunteering for repeat tours of duty in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.

And while all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines I have talked to in the last few weeks understand being held accountable for their actions — they do not comprehend the politico-media fascination with negative news. Getting Abu Musab Zarqawi was a one-day story. American “atrocities” are news forever.

Earlier this week, shortly before the Pentagon announced seven Marines and a U.S. Navy Corpsman would be court-martialed for crimes in Iraq, Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin, Illinois Democrat, stood in the well of the Senate to complain we were fighting a war “that has gone on for more than three years — with no end in sight.”

The next day a recently returned soldier I had covered in Iraq for Fox News called me up and said, “If we pull out now, the terrorists win.” He then asked, “Where will we fight them next — here?” It’s a question the defeatists dare not answer.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the Host of “War Stories? on the Fox News Channel.

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