Such statements deny the reality of both current events and history. Even a cursory examination of John Kennedy's disastrous summit with Nikita Khrushchev in June 1961 reveals how the Soviet dictator's response was to dispatch nuclear weapons to Cuba and bring us to the brink of war. Kennedy's concession -- removing U.S. nuclear weapons from Turkey -- and the Politburo's pragmatic desire to survive "mutually assured destruction" -- ended the standoff. Unfortunately, the "Supreme Islamic Council" now ruling Tehran has a far more apocalyptic vision of the future. They see a suicidal, Armageddon-like confrontation with the U.S. as "inevitable."
Sen. Obama now appears poised to become the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election. But his professed desire to sit down and chat with the Iranians doesn't seem to have gained much traction with soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines -- or the civilians who have come to see them this week. Though all in uniform have been strictly abjured to avoid politics while they are in town for Fleet Week, they privately profess little support for Obama's position on either Iraq or unconditional negotiations with Iran.
A good many of the Marines I have spoken to here in New York this week are troops with whom I have been embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan for Fox News. Some of them have had repeated tours of duty in combat. Nearly all of them have lost friends in Iraq or Afghanistan. In off-the-record discussions, they express disdain for Obama's "weakness" and willingness to "abandon what we fought and bled for."
I well recognize that these volunteers in uniform are hardly a representative sample of American public opinion. But they may well prove to be a major factor in this year's presidential contest because they vote in far higher proportions than their civilian peers. They also know -- as apparently the mainstream media do not -- that some of their comrades in arms have been killed and grievously wounded by explosives and weapons supplied by Iran.
These young American heroes also know that the regime in Tehran poses a serious future threat. One, a staff sergeant with two Purple Hearts, put it bluntly, "I sure as hell hope the ayatollahs don't get nukes." Hear that, Sen. Obama?
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.