WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an earlier age it would have been a Churchillian moment: The head of state makes a high-risk, secret trip to the war zone; is briefed by combat commanders on the military situation; meets with allies and commends the troops for their steadfast resolve in defeating a brutal adversary. Sir Winston was lionized by the British press for more than 20 such trips during the course of World War II. But that's not the treatment given George W. Bush.
The president was still on the ground in Iraq commending U.S. troops for eliminating the brutal terror-leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when the carping began. Liberal Democrats, perhaps feeling snubbed that the Commander in Chief's visit to Baghdad had upstaged their "Take Back America" conference in Washington, rushed to the microphones to critique the presidential mission. Fellow-travelers in the media compliantly followed the script in an effort to denigrate the import of the trip. On air that evening, Alan Colmes of FOX News' "Hannity & Colmes," pondered aloud why President Bush found it necessary to keep it all so furtive, "even from the Iraqi government." Note to liberals: Call the Secret Service.
Senator John Kerry went even further while Bush was in Baghdad. The Democrat's' favorite failed presidential candidate told a crowd of adoring, anti-military, blame-America-firsters that the U.S. Head of State visit to Baghdad changed nothing and that Iraq and Vietnam are the "two most failed foreign policy choices'' in our nation's history. "As in Vietnam," he continued, resurrecting a theme that resonates with radicals, "we have stayed and fought and died even though it is time for us to go. It was right to dissent from a war in 1971 that was wrong and could not be won. And now, in 2006, it is both a right and an obligation for Americans to stand up to a president who is wrong today."
The "Iraq equals Vietnam" argument is not new -- nor is it the exclusive purview of the American political left. Osama bin Laden has alluded to Vietnam in several of his "video diatribes" released in the Islamic press. U.S. and European media elites have tried to equate "atrocities" in Iraq with events like My Lai in Vietnam. Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, has said that we are "bogged down" in Iraq and that the situation is not "dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay there, the more similarities are going to come together." Fortunately for us, Messer's Kerry, bin Laden and Hagel are wrong.
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.