That same sense of defeatism was pervasive during the War of 1812, particularly after President James Madison was forced to flee our new capital when the British burned Washington. Though Francis Scott Key was inspired to record in verse that our flag still was flying over Baltimore's Inner Harbor after a vicious bombardment by the most powerful navy in the world at the time, there were others in Congress and the press who wanted us to abandon the fight because we could not win.
Two centuries have changed little about the appeal of defeatism among certain of our political and media elites. Though "jingoistic journalism" is derided in our institutions of higher learning, the portent of potential failure is a far more frequent theme in much of the reporting on the American Expeditionary Force in 1917 and the bloody campaigns of World War II. The premise that Americans no longer can win wars was expanded during the Korean War and perfected by the time my brother and I arrived in Vietnam. Now, 11 years to the week since U.S. troops arrived in Afghanistan, the storyline that "America's longest war is unwinnable" has become pervasive throughout our homeland.
There is a minor problem with this narrative. The American, allied and Afghan troops we are accompanying didn't get the memo. They stubbornly refuse to admit defeat, persist in believing they can prevail over the Taliban and have convinced themselves, if nobody else, that Afghanistan can be a good news story someday despite all "evidence" to the contrary.
According to the MSM, green-on-blue attacks compelled U.S. troops to cease accompanying Afghan security forces on missions and to halt all training. That simply isn't true. This column is being written on outposts where we are surrounded and vastly outnumbered by well-armed Afghan soldiers, police, commandos and special forces. We already have accompanied them on a half-dozen operations. The distrust and disdain being reported in our media and on various blogs simply aren't evident.
When the number of U.S. combat deaths here passed the 2,000 mark this past week, reports in the U.S. and international press cited this milestone as a point of "dismay" for the 67,000 U.S. troops still here. But every American killed or wounded is mourned by his or her comrades. Notably -- and rarely reported -- their Afghan counterparts grieve, as well. But the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with whom we are keeping company say this makes them even more determined to succeed.
Our press and politicians may be defeatists, but the young American and Afghan troops we're with are not. When I asked for a single word to define them, the response was "resilient."
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.
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