LONDON -- Those who think that U.S. political and media elites have "exclusive rights" to negative perspectives on how the War on Terror is being fought need to visit this ancient capital of a once great empire. Here in London, the valor of 5,600 British troops in Afghanistan and roughly 7,000 in Iraq is rarely mentioned. Nor is this week's apparent success by police and intelligence officers in deterring yet another radical Islamic terror attack -- this one in the industrial city of Birmingham -- a cause for acclaim. Instead, all the talk in the press and Parliament is about how to "bring the boys home" and ways to "find common ground" with those who would blow themselves up just to kill Anglo Saxons.
Our FOX News "War Stories" team is here to shoot two documentaries -- one a biography of Winston Churchill and the other about Americans who served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Having now spent the better part of a week on these endeavors, it is clearer than ever that both our English-speaking democracies have changed dramatically in the six decades since a terrible war united us in common purpose against horrific adversaries.
Then, most Americans and Britons knew who they were, who the enemy was and what they needed to do about it -- and were blessed to have leaders who could mobilize and motivate their populations to get it done. Now, the people of neither country know who they are, who the enemy is or what to do about it.
Worse, leaders in both nations seem unable to mobilize their countrymen to the challenge of fighting radical Islamic extremists who are literally dying to kill us. Both London and Washington are beset by a hostile media seemingly intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The purveyors of pessimism on the Potomac are little different from the transmitters of trepidation on the Thames. In both places powerful people ignore good news, accentuate the bad and seek to reap political advantage from the situation. It's enough to make one wonder how we managed to win World War II.
Case in point: Last week the much maligned Iraqi Army -- trained, equipped and advised by the U.S. military -- inflicted a stunning defeat on a well-armed Shia militia in a pitched battle. The Iraqi 8th Division, based in the Al Sadr stronghold of Najaf, conducted precisely the kind of operation that's necessary for the government of Nouri al-Maliki to assert control over areas heretofore heavily influenced by Iran. Though President Bush declared, "My first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something," the U.S. and British press generally disregarded this good news.
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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