PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII -- Since October of 2001, our FOX News "War Stories" unit has been documenting the remarkable young Americans fighting the Global War on Terror. We have covered thousands of them on the decks of ships in the Persian Gulf, on combat patrols in the shadow of the Hindu Kush, in gunfights along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates and gone to hospitals in Iraq, Germany and the U.S. with the wounded. Throughout, there has been a common bond among these "warriors of Sept. 11" -- a steadfast resolve that they could win the war. Now, for the first time since I accompanied the initial U.S. combat units heading into Kandahar, Afghanistan, I'm hearing something different -- a loss of confidence in the final outcome.
Over the course of the last ten days, I've met with scores of those I'd previously covered overseas. These soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines are now in "stateside" assignments at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, N.C., at Miramar Air Station in California, at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and here in Hawaii. Many of them expect to be back in the fight -- some of them soon. But recent reversals -- not on the battlefield but in Washington -- have caused nearly all of those I talked to on this trip to question whether we are suddenly in danger of losing the war they have been fighting.
This sudden loss of assurance in our fighting forces has nothing to do with casualty figures, troop levels, the leaders prosecuting the war in the field or new acts of terror by a ruthless enemy. Rather, the anxieties I'm now hearing from those I have covered in combat come in questions like: "Do you think that they are going to pull us out before we've finished the mission?" and "Will we abandon Iraq like we abandoned Vietnam?" Interestingly, not one of the thousands of young Americans I have covered in Iraq or Afghanistan has ever asked about or commented upon pre-war intelligence.
For more than two years the so-called mainstream media, the far left and some in Congress have been making trite comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Having spent a significant amount of time in both conflicts, about the only parallels I have seen in the two wars have been that bullets still wound and kill, and spilled blood is still red. But another common thread now ties the two hostilities together -- political cowardice in Washington, D.C.
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.