GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- Last week, I left Ar Ramadi, Iraq, and headed home for a little R&R at the beach with those I love the most.
I was glad to return from the anxiety, uncertainty and weariness of war in a place where violence is routinely the means of resolving disputes. I thought I was coming back to the calm, quiet stability of my native land where reason, the rule of law and political discourse are used to settle differences.
Now, after a week at home, watching the news, listening to the radio and reading the newspapers, I feel like Louis Carroll's Alice, who stepped through the looking glass from a world that made sense into "Wonderland," where nothing made sense.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be home, surrounded by friends and family, enjoying a respite from the peril, ferocity and fatigue that is a daily reality for our troops in Iraq. Here on the beautiful beaches of South Carolina, the greatest hazard I face is sunburn. On the streets of Ramadi, U.S. soldiers and Marines risk death if they fail to put on 25-pound "flak jackets" and 5-pound Kevlar helmets before going on patrol in 125-degree heat. For them, the War on Terror in Iraq is dangerous and deadly.
While American troops have gunfights with well-armed foreign terrorists, local insurgents and criminal gangs, they are simultaneously training Iraqi police and national guardsmen, rebuilding schools and infrastructure, stimulating small businesses and helping the institutions of democratic government to take root. Everyone with whom I spoke in Iraq -- from local government officials to lance corporals manning .50 caliber machine guns atop armored Humvees -- agreed that real progress is being made. Yet, here at home, Americans are besieged by bad news and conspiracy theories. In Iraq, the war on terror made sense. Here, it does not.
While I was in Iraq, U.S. forces discovered a terrorist plot to kill the governor of Al Anbar Province -- the county's largest political jurisdiction. Alerted by the intelligence report, U.S. troops, the governor, the commander of the Iraqi National Guard and the chief of the provincial police made appropriate plans to deal with the threat. The result was a five-hour gunfight that killed more than 30 terrorists and resulted in the capture of 25 more. And though 14 U.S. Marines and soldiers were wounded, everyone agreed that the operation was a resounding success. Unfortunately, that's not what's happening here.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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