GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- Here in the "Low Country" along the Carolina coast, where Francis Marion once drove British Redcoats madder than the noonday sun, patriotism is a serious topic. Thousands of young South Carolinians are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Persian Gulf. "Support Our Troops" signs are ubiquitous. Maybe that's why so many of these good people profess confusion about what's happening in that part of the world -- and in Washington.
This week, most of the conversations with shopkeepers, tradesmen and the nice folks we see once or twice a year when we vacation down here have gone something like this: "Love your show on Fox News. Your reports from the war with our boys are great. Are those people in Congress going to pull 'em out before the job is done?" And, "why are we caving into the Iranians? Are they really building a bomb?"
Compliments are great. We all love to hear them. I do too, but being considered an "expert" on congressional misfeasance and the vague trajectory of American foreign policy is getting to be more of a hurdle than I can leap. The problem became especially acute this week in the aftermath of the House of Representatives passing a resolution calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by April 1, 2008 and our State Department's announcement that we should have "another face-to-face meeting" with the Iranians.
"What good does it do to talk to the Iranians? Don't they just lie?" asked the young man at the hardware store where I went to buy what I needed to repair a broken screen door. He said he had served in Iraq with the South Carolina National Guard and has friends still "over there." His question deserved an answer, but I didn't have one. I'm as confounded by these developments as he is, but I vowed to get back to him after I learned more.
When I got back to the house, instead of fixing the screen door, I turned on my computer and groped around the Internet for why we need to meet with the mullahs. According to Foggy Bottom spokesperson Sean McCormack, we should talk to the theocrats running Tehran, because we have "to directly convey to the Iranian authorities that if they wish to see a more stable, secure, peaceful Iraq, which is what they have said they would like to see, that they need to change their behavior."
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.