ENROUTE TO IRAQ -- As I make my way, once again, to Iraq to cover the progress U.S. troops have made in rebuilding that country, I have mixed emotions. Of course, I'm pleased and honored to be able to spend time with some of the finest young Americans our country has produced. Relating the stories of brave soldiers and Marines as they protect innocent Iraqis who will go to the polls for their third election in a year is a job a I look forward to performing.
These young men and women have worked tirelessly to remove a brutal dictator from power -- a dictator who systematically tortured, repressed and killed his own people. They have been fighting terrorists who have infiltrated the country to try to take over where Saddam Hussein left off. These young Americans, who have left their friends and families, have not only provided security to the Iraqi people, they have been training Iraqi security forces and rebuilding schools, hospitals and communities. They deserve our prayers, support and respect.
And that's where the mixed emotions come into play. When I arrive, I can confidently tell our young people in uniform that most of the country supports them and is praying for them. But there is a vocal and influential group of people that doesn't. They are lead by Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democrat Party.
Speaking to WOIA Radio in San Antonio, Texas, last week, Dean predicted America would lose the war in Iraq. Just a week before Iraqis hold historic elections to select those who will represent them in the nation's legislature, Dean assured us that defeat is the only scenario on the horizon for the Americans. Just three weeks before Christmas, as the troops and their families will spend the holiday apart, Dean told our young men and women in uniform that the time they spend away from their families is time spent in vain.
"The idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq," Howard Dean explained to the San Antonio station, "is an idea which is just plain wrong." He went on to say that "I've seen this before in my life, and it cost us 25,000 brave American soldiers in Vietnam." Dean is wrong about the number of troops killed in Vietnam -- it was not 25,000, it was 58,178. He is also wrong about the prospects for victory in Iraq.
Dean, like other leading Democrats, wants to abandon the Iraqis and begin withdrawing from the country, damn the consequences. According to the head of the Democrat Party, we should begin a "strategic redeployment" in which we "bring the 80,000 National Guard and reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this, anyway," he said.
I guess Mr. Dean would prefer to see our National Guard units deployed to places where they can really make a difference -- like some far corner of the globe where they would take their orders from Kofi Annan or some Belgian Brigadier wearing a blue beret.
But the Democrats were only getting started. When their leader was not calling our troops losers, their party's nominee, Sen. John Kerry, was characterizing U.S. soldiers as terrorists. Speaking to Bob Schieffer on CBS' "Face the Nation," Kerry accused U.S. forces of "terrorizing kids and children," in Iraq.
"And there is no reason," Kerry said, "that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- the historical customs, religious customs," he explained.
So let's get this straight. American soldiers are terrorists, but there is no need for them to be, because the kind of late-night terrorism which Mr. Kerry apparently condones, is the kind of terrorism that "Iraqis should be doing."
Also over the weekend, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, who was the first Democrat to set a date certain for withdrawal, said that victory in Iraq is not a paramount concern of his. Appearing on "This Week," Feingold said of Iraq, "this is not a war that we should really think of in terms of winning or losing." Typical liberal feel-good mumbo jumbo. The United States. must be careful not to damage the terrorists' self-esteem by actually defeating them. Let's just call it a tie and vow, like Rodney King, "to just get along" in the future.
Those who are putting their lives on the line to defend America and solidify the liberation of Iraq deserve better than what they are getting from the leaders of the Democrat Party. Three weeks ago, after months of carping that the United States needed to withdraw immediately from Iraq, the House of Representatives put the measure to a vote. It was overwhelmingly defeated.
Withdrawing from Iraq without complete victory in hand is a dim-witted and dangerous idea. It will do harm to the Iraqis whom we have liberated. It will endanger America's national security, and it will undermine the sacrifice that our troops have made.
It is time for Democrats to start speaking responsibly or not at all.