ENROUTE TO IRAQ -- As I make my way, once again, to Iraq to cover the progress U.S. troops have made in rebuilding that country, I have mixed emotions. Of course, I'm pleased and honored to be able to spend time with some of the finest young Americans our country has produced. Relating the stories of brave soldiers and Marines as they protect innocent Iraqis who will go to the polls for their third election in a year is a job a I look forward to performing.
These young men and women have worked tirelessly to remove a brutal dictator from power -- a dictator who systematically tortured, repressed and killed his own people. They have been fighting terrorists who have infiltrated the country to try to take over where Saddam Hussein left off. These young Americans, who have left their friends and families, have not only provided security to the Iraqi people, they have been training Iraqi security forces and rebuilding schools, hospitals and communities. They deserve our prayers, support and respect.
And that's where the mixed emotions come into play. When I arrive, I can confidently tell our young people in uniform that most of the country supports them and is praying for them. But there is a vocal and influential group of people that doesn't. They are lead by Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democrat Party.
Speaking to WOIA Radio in San Antonio, Texas, last week, Dean predicted America would lose the war in Iraq. Just a week before Iraqis hold historic elections to select those who will represent them in the nation's legislature, Dean assured us that defeat is the only scenario on the horizon for the Americans. Just three weeks before Christmas, as the troops and their families will spend the holiday apart, Dean told our young men and women in uniform that the time they spend away from their families is time spent in vain.
"The idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq," Howard Dean explained to the San Antonio station, "is an idea which is just plain wrong." He went on to say that "I've seen this before in my life, and it cost us 25,000 brave American soldiers in Vietnam." Dean is wrong about the number of troops killed in Vietnam -- it was not 25,000, it was 58,178. He is also wrong about the prospects for victory in Iraq.
Dean, like other leading Democrats, wants to abandon the Iraqis and begin withdrawing from the country, damn the consequences. According to the head of the Democrat Party, we should begin a "strategic redeployment" in which we "bring the 80,000 National Guard and reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this, anyway," he said.
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.