Oliver North
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- When our Fox News team left for Afghanistan last week, there was a palpable sense of imminent calamity in the air. Gloom and doom news from here is now a staple in our so-called mainstream media. Reports of "green-on-blue," or insider, attacks by our Afghan allies against American and NATO troops are depicted as a sure sign of mission failure and portend of worse to come. Commentaries, columns and "analysis" from "experts" urging our political and military leaders to "get out now" routinely grace our print and broadcast outlets. The terms "betrayed," "cut our losses" and "minimize failure" appear regularly in the press, and "lost cause" is now the media watchword for Afghanistan.

Defeatism of this sort is nothing new. Prognostications of failure in American military campaigns predate the founding of our republic. The "wrong war, wrong strategy," "no way to win" and "not worth the cost" arguments didn't begin with Vietnam; they have been commonplace in contemporaneous critiques of every military endeavor in our nation's history. So, too, have been calls for the heads of those leading these fights. "Fire them all" is hardly a new mantra for American military leaders -- or the politicians who send them to war.

In the 1750s -- during what we call the French and Indian War -- British and Colonial troops set out to drive French forces from North America. They were thwarted by an alliance between the French and Native American tribes. During a disastrous campaign to capture Fort Duquesne -- now Pittsburgh -- the British-American effort was repulsed in part by unconventional warfare attacks perpetrated by Indians who were initially thought to be our allies. Thank goodness, the widely publicized failure didn't destroy the future military career of an otherwise promising young Colonial officer named George Washington.

Washington's eventual success as the commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution is remembered fondly today. But in the long fight from Boston in 1775 to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, his military prowess was anything but certain. He was roundly criticized for failing to deal effectively with a lethal Tory, or loyalist, insurgency behind the lines. The disastrous winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge nearly finished his army. And when Benedict Arnold, one of his most successful subordinates, betrayed the cause and defected to the British, there was a chorus in Congress demanding Washington's replacement and insisting that we "settle our dispute with the Crown" and sue for peace.


Oliver North

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.