Washington, D.C. — If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is right, nearly sixty percent of Americans agree with him that the war in Iraq is already lost. And if he is correct in saying that losing the war will increase Democrat majorities in future elections, then it may be fair to conclude that Americans now love losers.
I’m not buying any of it — and neither are the troops who are fighting this war.
In the days since Mr. Reid announced that “this war is lost,” I have heard from dozens of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines that I have covered in eight trips to Iraq and two to Afghanistan for FOX News. Some of those who correspond with me are there now, others are home and some are preparing to deploy again. None of them agree with the Majority Leader’s assessment.
• One e-mail from Ramadi, Iraq observed: “Good thing this guy Reid wasn’t around in 1940 when Winston Churchill promised the people of Great Britain nothing but ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat.’”
• Another, a National Guardsman, recently returned from Mesopotamia with a Purple Heart, noted that the Senate Majority Leader has become “Al Qaeda’s most powerful ally.”
• At Mississippi State University, a Marine corporal I last saw along the banks of the Tigris River — now a college student — asked me, “Do those people who think we’ve lost this war have any idea what things will be like if we really do lose?”
It’s an important question that none of the potentates on the Potomac who just voted to withdraw U.S. troops appear willing to address.
According to military folklore, Napoleon kept a corporal at his side to ensure that the orders issued in battle were understandable by the troops who had to carry them out. Whether true or not, it’s time for Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi to find such a corporal who will ask them such questions, for if the Democrats continue their current course, we may well lose this war. This way, they will have embraced defeat and all that comes with it.
What would losing the war in Iraq mean? It’s a picture so dark and depressing that it makes the collapse in Vietnam — 32 years ago next week — look like a Sunday school picnic by comparison. The fall of Saigon was horrific for the people of the Republic of Vietnam and their neighbors in Cambodia and Laos. More than five million became refugees and by the most conservative estimates — no one knows for sure — at least a million others perished.
For most Americans, the consequences were minimal. The vast majority of the 2.8 million of us who had fought and bled there mourned the loss of 58,253 of our comrades, swallowed the bitterness of defeat, and got on with our lives. Our nation spent a few hundred million tax dollars on refugee relief and resettlement — and tried to forget what people in Mr. Reid’s party called “the long nightmare of Vietnam.”
But classified U.S. intelligence assessments, military contingency plans and staff studies evaluating the consequences of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, coupled with the lack of funding for political reform measures — as contained in the legislation just passed by Mr. Reid’s party — paint a far more dismal picture than anything that happened after Vietnam.
Within months, an immediate upsurge in vicious sectarian violence fomented by Iranian intervention on behalf of Shiite militias and Wahabbi-supported, al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups. As U.S. forces retreat to a half dozen staging areas for retrograde through Kuwait and Jordan, American casualties will dramatically increase from suicide bombers seeking “martyrdom” in their victory.
Inside of 18 months, the fragile, democratically-elected government in Baghdad will collapse, precipitating a real sectarian civil war and the creation of Taliban-like “regional governments” that will impose brutal, misogynistic rule throughout the country. The ensuing flood of refuges into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran will overwhelm relief organizations, creating a humanitarian disaster making what’s happening in Darfur pale by comparison.
The Kurds in Northern Iraq are likely to declare an autonomous region that could well result in Turkish, Iranian and even Syrian military intervention.
In the course of withdrawing U.S. combat brigades and support units, billions of dollars in American military equipment and ordnance will have to be destroyed or left behind. More than $40 billion in reconstruction projects for schools, health care facilities, sanitation, clean water, electrical distribution and agricultural development will be abandoned. Plans to exploit the new West Qurna oil field in southeastern Iraq will be forsaken.
The governments of Kuwait, Jordan, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, intimidated by Iranian boldness in acquiring nuclear weapons, will likely insist on the withdrawal of American military bases from their territories. Such a move will jeopardize U.S. naval operations in the Persian Gulf and logistics, intelligence collection and command and control facilities supporting operations in Afghanistan.
As Iraq becomes a battleground for the centuries-long Sunni-Shiia conflict, radical Islamic terror organizations will use the territories they control to prepare and launch increasingly deadly terror attacks around the globe against U.S. citizens, businesses and interests.
Senator Reid and his cohorts in Congress who believe that “this war is lost” have acted to ensure that it will be. No one asked them: “If we lost, who won?” The answer should be obvious.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of “War Stories” on the FOX News Channel and the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation that provides scholarships to the children of military personnel killed in action.
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North (ret.) serves as host of the Fox News Channel documentary series "War Stories with Oliver North." From 1983 to 1986, he served as the U.S. government's counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff. "Counterfeit Lies," is his novel about how Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. Click here for more information on Oliver North.