If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is right, nearly 60 percent of Americans agree with him that the war in Iraq is already lost. And if he is correct in saying that losing the war will increase Democrat majorities in future elections, then it may be fair to conclude that Americans now love losers. I'm not buying any of it -- and neither are the troops who are fighting this war.
In the days since Reid announced "this war is lost," I have heard from dozens of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines that I have covered in eight trips to Iraq and two to Afghanistan for FOX News. Some of those who correspond with me are there now, others are home. Some are preparing to deploy again. None of them agree with Reid's assessment.
One e-mail from Ramadi, Iraq observed: "Good thing this guy Reid wasn't around in 1940 when Winston Churchill promised the people of Great Britain nothing but 'blood, toil, tears and sweat.'" Another, a Guardsman who recently returned from Mesopotamia with a Purple Heart, noted that Reid has become "Al Qaeda's most powerful ally." A Marine corporal I last saw along the banks of the Tigris River -- now a Mississippi State University student -- asked me, "Do those people who think we've lost this war have any idea what things will be like if we really do lose?" It's an important question that none of the potentates on the Potomac who just voted to withdraw U.S. troops appear willing to address.
According to military folklore, Napoleon kept a corporal at his side to ensure that the orders issued in battle were understandable by the troops who had to carry them out. Whether true or not, it's time for Reid and Nancy Pelosi to find such a corporal who will ask them such questions, for if the Democrats continue their current course, we may well lose this war -- and they will have embraced defeat and all that comes with it.
What would losing the war in Iraq mean? It's a picture so dark and depressing that it makes the collapse in Vietnam, 32 years ago next week, look like a Sunday school picnic. The fall of Saigon was horrific for the people of Vietnam and their neighbors in Cambodia and Laos. More than 5 million became refugees and by the most conservative estimates at least a million others perished.
For most Americans, the consequences were minimal. The vast majority of the 2.8 million of us who had fought and bled there mourned the loss of 58,253 of our comrades, swallowed the bitterness of defeat and got on with our lives. Our nation spent a few hundred million tax dollars on refugee relief and resettlement, and tried to forget what people in Reid's party called "the long nightmare of Vietnam."
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.