Just in time for the release of his new book, foxnews.com sat down with the host of War Stories to talk to him about his return to Iraq and upcoming special edition of War Stories focusing on the USO.
FOXNEWS.COM: Why are you going back to Iraq?
OLIVER NORTH, HOST, WAR STORIES: The troops over there who looked after us so well last time will certainly do so again. It was lot more dangerous for correspondents the last time than it is now.
Where are you going in Iraq?
We're not allowed to announce in advance exactly the locations we’re going to. Our goal is to rejoin the units that we were with before. We finished up with the Fourth ID [Infantry Division] and they deserve to have some coverage now. What we’ll be looking to do is one of those “that was then, this is now” kind of reports. Plus, this is after all the holiday season and we’ll be letting the troops say "Hi" to their family members back home just like we did the last time.
Have you heard from any of the people you met in Iraq last time?
Oh yes! Thousands of them! We get e-mails, we get photos, we’ve gotten little Tabasco bottles full of Iraqi sand. One came with a note that said, "Colonel, if you’re getting nostalgic for where we are and where you were, pour this on your desk and play in the sand pile!” -- The troops have a great sense of humor. They’re terrific.
Have you also heard from grateful family members?
Everywhere I go in America, troops say that [they were very glad we featured their loved ones on television.] Especially, the family members of those we covered. And, now, many of the troops themselves have come home and we’ve met a lot of them. They’re always bringing up photographs of me with them taken in Iraq for me to sign. That happened a lot on the last book tour and I know it’s going to happen a lot with this one.
Are you also taking Griff Jenkins back with you?
Sure. He’s a great cameraman and field producer. This is pretty demanding physically and we’ve got a lot of gear and we have to carry it all. Griff is up to the task and even though his hair has grown a little bit, I’m sure he’s still up to it!
Also, our War Stories Senior Producer Pamela Browne will be on the team. She has had considerable experience as a combat journalist in her career and went with me to SWA during "Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Tell me about the USO Tour and the plans you have to feature it in a special episode of the show?
Singer and entertainer Wayne Newton (search) is heading up the USO troupe that’s going out this holiday season and I really admire him, and those who are going with him, for giving up their time with their families and going out to let the troops know how important they are. Wayne, actor Gary Sinse (search), the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders (search), Neil McCoy (search) and the rest of the entertainers have just one goal: to let the troops know how much America loves them. We will be covering the shows that they do all over Southwest Asia. There will be several performances inside the theatre.
And on December 14, 2003 War Stories will air a special salute to the USO and the work they do all over the world in support of the men and women of our Armed Forces, and their families.
We already have interviews “in the can” with actress Ann Margret (search), rock musician Joan Jett (search), actor Mickey Rooney (search), Johnny Grant, Tony Hope (Bob Hope’s son, who traveled with his father on nine USO tours), actress Bo Derek (search), retired Gen. Tommy Franks (search) and Connie Stevens (search). These are the great USO entertainers who have traveled all over the world, giving up time with their families to encourage young Americans far from home. – It’s going to be a great special!
I should also tell you that Regnery Publishing (search) has also donated 500 copies of the new FOX News War Stories book on Iraq to give to our troops.
Speaking of the book… What can you tell us about it?
It’s a more in-depth look at those who fought and won a remarkable victory in Iraq in 2003. There’s only so much that you can say on television in a broadcast over a videophone! So what we’ve done is look behind-the-scenes at some of what went on during the fight for Baghdad and beyond, that we just didn’t have time to put on the air.
How would you characterize the military you saw in action during the war?
No military force has ever gone so far, so fast with so few casualities. You have to remember that before we got to Baghdad, the "arm chair admirals", "bar-room brigadiers" and "sound-bite special forces" on the other networks were predicting thousands of American casualties.-- It just didn’t happen.
Now, those same people are saying, that we’re caught in a “quagmire.” The book asks, “what quagmire?” Every week, more Iraqis have electricity than before the war. Every week, more schools open. More water gets turned on. More sewage treatment plants are put on line. These are indicators of anything but a “quagmire.”
Sure, it’s still dangerous in Iraq. The Baathists and the Jihadists have forged a marriage of convenience that threatens American and coalition forces. And, they are now going after Iraqi citizens. That’s not going to last. Every day, we train more Iraqi policemen and civil guard and security personnel. In relatively short order, the Iraqis will start taking responsibility for their own security.
Why are they attacking us?
The neighboring countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran don’t have democracy. They don’t want democracy to work in Baghdad. They don’t want free enterprise to prosper in Baghdad. That’s why the Jihadists are nearly all from those neighboring countries. Once Iraq’s borders are secured by Iraqi forces, things will start to get better quickly.
Do we have to find Saddam Hussein to make things better in Iraq?
It would certainly help because it will dismay the Baathists who think that he can bring them back to their original level of power. But that alone won’t stop foreigners who are committed to killing themselves, trying to kill coalition forces, from coming in to the country. The only way to stop that is to build a well-trained, well-equipped Iraqi border patrol and security force. – That’s on the way.