U.S. Virgin Islands -- We arrived at a tiny outpost on St. Thomas on Oct. 26. As we stepped ashore, the gentleman beside me said, "28 years ago at this very minute, I was lining up my 'thirsty' A-7 to land on the deck of the USS Independence (CV-62) not far from here. It was day two of Operation Urgent Fury. We were flying nonstop close air support missions for troops in contact on the island of Grenada."
The retired naval aviator went on to describe his admiration for the then commander in chief, who boldly ordered more than 5,000 American troops ashore to prevent the 800 medical students and staff members from being taken hostage by the Cuban-supported communists who had seized control on the island. He added: "It was a high-risk decision, the right thing to do and the 'beginning of the end' of the Soviet empire. President Reagan knew who our enemies were, knew what needed to be done -- and did it." My interlocutor then asked a question I could not answer: "Are there any Ronald Reagan Republicans running for president?"
"There do not seem to be," was all I could reply. Anyone paying attention can see that President Barack Obama is taking us down the path of massive defense cuts and unilateral disarmament. Unfortunately, none of the leading GOP candidates has addressed our national security risks or set forth a plan to defend us.
"Well, there's a lot more at stake in this election than just the economy," the former attack pilot said. As we shook hands and parted, he added: "If the Republicans don't realize we still have enemies in this world and fail to come up with a plan to defend us, we're finished. It won't matter what they do about 'Obamacare' and all these entitlements."
Unfortunately, the old Navy pilot is right. Republican candidates are busily defending competing tax and spending plans, alternative health care policies and strategies for Social Security. But other than Newt Gingrich, none has articulated a strategy for defending Americans and our way of life.
It ought to be apparent where the O-Team is taking us. As Jimmy Carter was more than 30 years ago, Obama and his allies in Congress are on course to unilaterally disarm. On Oct. 21, in the midst of euphoria over the demise of Moammar Gadhafi, Obama was lauded for announcing that the war in Mesopotamia was over and "the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year."
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.