(En route to) KABUL -- Other than spending lots of time covering soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, Marines and special operators who routinely get shot at, I'm not a gambling man. Those I know who frequent the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City all claim they go to these places to "win" and are willing to settle for a break-even "draw." None of them professes to be satisfied with a loss. Unfortunately, when it comes to gambling in the life-or-death contest against radical Islamists, all three outcomes appear to be equally acceptable to the Obama administration. For the O-Team, just playing "the game" seems to be enough.
Win: Last week's national parliamentary election in Iraq -- with turnout more than 60 percent -- was a clear-cut success. Even Newsweek put on its cover "Victory at Last: The Emergence of a Democratic Iraq." This is the same magazine that published a fictional account in 2005 of a Quran's being flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo -- a story that led to riots throughout the Muslim world and the deaths of hundreds. Though the writers cast the election as "America's dark victory," they could not deny what it means for the Land Between the Rivers and the entirety of the Middle East.
On Sunday, in his remarks on the election, the president appropriately recognized "the growing capability and professionalism of Iraqi security forces, which took the lead in providing protection at the polls." To his credit, Mr. Obama proffered his "admiration for the thousands of Americans on the ground in Iraq -- for our civilians and our men and women in uniform who continue to support our Iraqi partners. This election is also a tribute to all who have served and sacrificed in Iraq over the last seven years, including many who have given their lives."
Regrettably, he just couldn't bring himself to credit his predecessor's political courage for proceeding with the "surge" advocated by Gen. David Petraeus back in 2006. Had George W. Bush failed to do so, it is very unlikely last Sunday's elections would have taken place at all, much less succeeded.
Lose: This week's "news" about the continuing debate in Washington over closing the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo and what to do about those who are held there is a losing issue all around. Still smarting over the Christmas Day "underpants bomber" fiasco and new revelations about the indictment of a 46-year-old American-born blond volunteer murder-suicide recruiter who bills herself as "Jihad Jane," the O-Team now wants to cut a deal with Congress. This is a loser for everyone, especially the American people.
According to Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Obama administration has offered to try detainees as enemy combatants before military tribunals instead of civilian courts if Congress will fund the closing of Gitmo and the moving of the detainees to prisons here in the U.S. The Department of Justice already has located one such facility -- the Thomson Correctional Center -- in the president's home state of Illinois.
This loopy proposal is even less popular with the American people than Mr. Obama's plan for government-run health care. Unfortunately, some people in Congress -- such as Sens. Richard "Dick" Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. -- think this is an admirable proposition and are doing what they can to advance the scheme. Sen. Graham has to be glad he won't face the voters again until 2014. Perhaps they will have forgotten this losing idea by then.
Draw: Afghanistan. This week, while Vice President Joe Biden was wandering through the Holy Land doing his best to alienate our only real democratic ally in the region, Defense Secretary Bob Gates was in Afghanistan. After shoring up the Obama administration's nearly ruptured relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Gates went to see the troops and get what he called "ground truth" from those fighting the war.
In Kandahar, Gates presented Silver Star medals for heroism to U.S. Army aviators Lt. Col. John Morgan and Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Woolley. As evidence of how things have begun to turn around since the "Afghanistan surge" began in December, he was able to walk without a flak jacket or helmet through the streets of Now Zad, in Helmand province. A little more than a year ago, our Fox News team was embedded there with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines -- and they took fire every day.
Curiously, Gates said he feels "reinforced that the path we're on is the right path, but it will take a long time." How the secretary of defense squares "a long time" with Mr. Obama's pledge to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 16 months was not addressed. Given the blood and treasure being poured into this fight -- and the clear successes now being achieved on the battlefield -- we can only hope that the president isn't going to settle for a "tie" in the shadows of the Hindu Kush just to adhere to another arbitrary deadline.
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.