- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 18, 2007


He was an American hero. On his second “tour of duty” in Iraq, he had already served in the Western Pacific and a prior combat tour in Afghanistan. On Friday afternoon, Feb. 16, when Sgt. Joshua Frazier, U.S. Marine Corps, was laid to rest in the soil of his native Virginia, his comrades in arms from the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines were fighting terrorists on the mean streets of Ramadi, in Iraq’s bloody Al Anbar Province. As Sgt. Frazier’s grieving mother was presented with a carefully folded American flag, the Congress of the United States was debating a meaningless “nonbinding resolution” attacking the commander in chief.

Heroes aren’t athletes who set new sports records or Hollywood actors who make “daring” films, or politicians who make bold promises. Heroes place themselves at risk for the benefit of others. Joshua Frazier was certainly such a man. Unfortunately, far too few members of Congress fit the definition.

At Joshua’s funeral, I gave his parents photographs of their son that had been taken a few weeks ago while I was embedded with his unit in Iraq. We had just returned from a patrol to a newly reopened school where little Iraqi girls were being taught arithmetic. Standing around us are the Sunni police officers and Shia soldiers who had accompanied us on the mission. Sweat stains from his 40-pound flak jacket are still evident on his uniform and he is smiling through exhaustion into the lens. He and his squad of Marines had been up for more than 24 hours chasing down an enemy sniper. His is one of more than two dozen Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard units to be extended in Iraq to increase U.S. troop levels by 21,500. These are the young Americans who will bear the brunt of what Congress is doing.

Marine Sgt. Joshua Frazier is one of 2,507 U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq. Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims the resolution debated by the House of Representatives is a measure that “will continue to support and protect” U.S. military personnel. Yet she also says it shows “Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.” How this does anything but damage U.S. and Iraqi morale and embolden U.S. adversaries is beyond comprehension.

“The American people have lost faith in President Bush’s course of action in Iraq,” Mrs. Pelosi said Tuesday, as the resolution was introduced. She said the president’s plan “is based on the judgment that the way out of Iraq lies in sending more troops in,” adding, “Our experience has proven just the opposite.”

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, “Our experience,” in Mrs. Pelosi’s words, has proven that pulling U.S. forces out of a fight before the war is won is a formula for disaster. In Korea, the decision to withdraw U.N. troops to the 38th Parallel resulted in stalemate and today’s despotic, nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang. In Vietnam, the congressional cut-off of funds in December 1974 precipitated the North Vietnamese communist takeover of the entire country less than five months later.

The combined losses in both wars — more than 108,000 Americans killed in action — should be an object lesson for this Congress. Pulling out, holding back, withdrawing support, “defunding” the war — whatever it’s called — is tantamount to squandering lives. Is that where this Congress is heading? Are the lives of courageous young American volunteers like Joshua Frazier worth so little to our Congress that members would ignore our peril for perverse personal political profit?

If the morale of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines has no meaning to our legislators, perhaps they should look at what our enemies are doing. While Congress debates hollow, but ultimately damaging legislation, there is new assertiveness in Iran — on everything from acquiring nuclear arms to supplying terror cells in Iraq with advanced weaponry. Tehran’s radical Islamic theocracy headed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei need not worry about “resolutions of non-support” but is very adept at measuring American ambivalence and uncertainty.

This week’s “show and tell” of captured Iranian sniper rifles, surface-to-air missiles, mortar rounds, sophisticated “explosively formed penetrators” and evidence of Iranian complicity in killing more than 170 Americans elicited nary a peep from the new congressional leadership. They were more concerned with their pet resolution — and getting Mrs. Pelosi a bigger military airplane for her commute between Washington and San Francisco. That’s a telling signal to Tehran that our Congress is backing away from protecting our vital interests — and our troops.

Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Today, Congress fiddles as Americans die. Tomorrow, we may all pay the price.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated correspondent, the host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel, and the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation that provides scholarships for the children of military personnel killed in action.

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