Thus far, the war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of nearly 1,900 Americans. More than 15,000 have been wounded there since we were attacked on 9/11. These numbers alone ought to make us all wonder what Vice President Joe Biden was thinking this week when he told a reporter, "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy." Knowing who our enemies really are would be a great Christmas gift for the Obama administration.
Unfortunately, we do have enemies. That's why 28,500 Americans in the Republic of Korea, another 48,000 in Japan and thousands more aboard U.S. Navy vessels deployed in the Pacific are paying very close attention to what's happening in North Korea while we're opening presents beneath our Christmas trees. In Pyongyang, where Christmas is not a holiday, 20-something-year-old Kim Jong-un appears to have inherited his father's nuclear-armed dynasty. The trouble is that we don't really know much about what's happening in the Hermit Kingdom. An American intelligence service worthy of the name would make a wonderful present.
Such a gift could also help us to know how close the apocalyptic ayatollahs in Tehran are to acquiring nuclear weapons. This week, when a CBS reporter asked if Iran could have a nuclear weapon in 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta replied, "It would probably be about a year before they can do it." If that's true, it means that nothing the O-team has done to deter such a dismal prospect has worked. A healthy dose of "reality" ought to have been on the White House gift list.
Thankfully, none of these weighty matters are likely to intrude on the Christmas celebrations of most Americans. That's because our lives and well-being are protected by 1.5 million of our countrymen wearing our nation's military uniforms. They are all volunteers -- the brightest and bravest of their generation. They have absented themselves from the affection of their loved ones, given up the comforts of home and placed themselves in harm's way so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings of liberty. On Christmas, say a prayer of thanks for their sacrifice.
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.