WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Last week, our nation mourned the 1000th U.S. death in Iraq. The Kerry campaign and the so-called mainstream media pounced on the report with partisan furor, using the "milestone" as "proof" that the war in Mesopotamia is going wrong -- and that it's the fault of George W. Bush.
On the campaign trail, Sen. Kerry complains that President Bush has failed to "take the target off American troops." His campaign operatives talk anonymously on background about "equipment deficiencies," a "lack of body armor" and "deeply diminished morale" among our troops. Meanwhile, The New York Times, gloomily reports that, "In the past five months, the Americans have relinquished control over much of Anbar and Salahaddin, provinces that include cities like Ramadi and Fallujah, where the guerrilla insurgency churns on with unabated intensity." What's going on here? Are we really losing the war in the bloody, scorched streets of Iraq?
Those are just some of the issues I went to investigate with a FOX News "War Stories" team. On this, my fourth trip to Iraq in the last 18 months, we were embedded with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, assigned to the 1st Brigade of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division. These units are part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force -- posted in Al Ramadi -- the capital of Al Anbar Province -- the largest in Iraq and in the heart of the so-called "Sunni Triangle." Here's what we found wrong with the Kerry-media spin:
-- "... Americans have relinquished control ..." Notwithstanding press accounts to the contrary, no U.S. commander has "relinquished control" over the capital or the province -- which stretches from the western suburbs of Baghdad all the way to the Saudi, Jordanian and Syrian borders. As our cameras documented, U.S. soldiers, Marines and increasing numbers of Iraqi National Guardsmen are very much engaged in countering those who would prevent Iraq from ever becoming a democratic country. And despite terrorist efforts to disrupt reconstruction efforts and attack Iraqi civil infrastructure, U.S. Army, Navy "Sea Bee" and Marine civil affairs officers continue to open new schools, electrical facilities, water plants, hospitals and police stations.
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.