Dishonoring the fallen

Posted: Jul 01, 2005 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Our son was killed in Iraq. Though we miss him terribly, we're grateful that FOX News was there to tell the story. Thank you for your coverage. We now know more about the heroism of all the U.S. and Iraqi troops and the positive changes they are bringing about."

 That excerpt, from a letter sent by bereaved parents grieving the loss of a son in Iraq, is typical of the mail I receive each time I return from Iraq and Afghanistan. After eight trips to where the Global War on Terrorism is being fought every day by soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines, I now have scores of such missives. They have come from parents, spouses, siblings and the children of the fallen. Their letters are always full of pain, often eloquent, and invariably hopeful that the sacrifice made by their loved ones will not have been in vain.

 On Tuesday evening, less than a week before we celebrate the 229th anniversary of American independence, President Bush spoke to the world about the war in which these young Americans fell. Standing before soldiers and their families at Fort Bragg, N.C. -- an audience of those who serve in mortal danger -- the president made an articulate and persuasive presentation on why winning this war is a moral imperative for this nation and what it will take to do so. Sadly, the so-called "loyal opposition" and much of our mainstream media seem not to have heard. In their efforts to disparage the commander in chief, they denigrate those who serve in harm's way, and dishonor the fallen.

 The applause at the home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces had barely stopped before the left-leaning leadership of the Democrat Party launched a vicious partisan riposte aimed at gaining political advantage at the expense of our troops. The remarkable similarity of their hollow critique offers evidence of their desperation.

 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "The president's  frequent references to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 show the weakness of his arguments. He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of Sept. 11, knowing that there is no connection between Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq."

 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., apparently forgetting that he voted for Operation Iraqi Freedom, offered a parallel response: "The president's numerous references to Sept. 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq. They only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and Al Qaeda remains capable of doing this nation great harm." He then added, "'Staying the course,' as the president advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek."

 Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., rushed to the microphones and listed the various countries from which the Sept. 11 attackers had originated. He then observed breathlessly, "There were no Iraqis."

 Former presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry accused the president of creating a "third rationale" for the war: "The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy. And now, tonight, it's to combat the hotbed of terrorism."

 "No connection between Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq." "No way forward." "A third rationale." All of these statements from the leaders of the radical political left were not only echoed throughout the Islamic world by Al Jazeera, they also deny the reality of what Bush has been saying ever since this war began.

 Nine days after the Sept. 11 attack that murdered nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil, President Bush said: "Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. … The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it and destroy it where it grows."

 Four months later, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush told the world: "Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch."

 On Tuesday evening, President Bush once again enumerated the threats we face, articulated a strategy for victory so that our troops can come home and reaffirmed his resolve: "After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy. Iraq is the latest battlefield in that war. Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."

 The leaders of the Democrat Party disagree with the president's assessment. It would have been interesting had any of the "reporters" covering these critics asked the question of Pelosi or Reid, Reed and Kerry: If you don't want to hunt down terrorists in Mosul, Ramadi or Al Qa'im, Iraq, would you rather we hunted for them in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Providence or Boston?

 The president has consistently presented facts that the liberal leaders of the Democrat Party don't like, but that doesn't change the facts. Though they offer no alternative, they say that we cannot "stay the course." Such rhetoric not only encourages our adversaries, it dishonors those who have fallen.