By 204 B.C., the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, had been wreaking havoc on the Italian peninsula for 14 years at a cost to Rome and its Italian allies of approximately 100,000 lives. In that year, a young charismatic general from one of Rome’s most aristocratic families, Cornelius Scipio, convinced his elders in the Senate to send him and an expeditionary force by sea to attack the Carthaginian homeland in North Africa. This finally brought Hannibal’s army out of Italy to a battlefield of the Romans’ choosing, to a place called Zama, where one of history’s greatest generals was defeated.
In his new book American Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam, Oliver North writes that two weeks after the fall of Baghdad, in the town of Baji, the 66th Armored Regiment came upon one of Sadam Hussein’s enormous ammo dumps. Quickly, the regiment’s commander realized that the insurgents would be coming to steal the ammo. He ordered his troops to set up ambush points along the roads leading into the massive complex. Pitched gun battles erupted nightly. Recapping one night’s fighting, North writes:
When we arrive, the platoon commander who triggered the ambush is reviewing with his soldiers what happened. The bodies of 14 men, nearly all dressed in black, are lying on or near a rutted dirt road that enters the ammo dump from the East… According to identity documents, only two are Iraqis. Of the remaining 12, four are Jordanian, three are Syrian, two are Egyptian, one is Saudi, and two are Lebanese.
Barack Obama, ever the propagandist, incessantly asserts that the centerpiece of his “change” agenda will be the repair of our international reputation, which has been so badly damaged by President Bush’s war in Iraq. This assertion, uttered for the consumption of his far-left contributors and a compliant media, clearly illustrates his belief that a lie told often enough becomes a fact. American Heroes shows Obama’s mantra is a disservice to those who are fighting this war — Americans, Iraqis, Afghanis and allied soldiers. A huge lie, it is a defamation of those who have given their lives.
North refutes this lie by showing that our troops are fighting a force of men from all over the Muslim Middle East, from disparate Sunni jihadists of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, to Wahhabi-subsidized Mujahadeen, to disenfranchised Baath party members, to Shiite militias aligned with Iran. While they don’t all report to bin Laden and al Zawahiri or operate through a centralized command-and-control structure, they all have one thing in common: They are terrorists who are not just willing to kill Americans but relish the torture and murder of fellow Muslim men, women and children. North makes clear that George Bush, like the Roman general, Scipio, moved the war against the planet’s most vicious terrorists from New York City to the Middle East, and to a battleground of his choosing.
American Heroes is the first comprehensive history of the West’s war with militant Islam. In 288 pages, North begins with the 9/11 attacks, moves to the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns and ends with Gen. David Petraeus’s surge and the “awakening” of 2007. This “coffee-table” book is printed on glossy stock and contains several hundred high-resolution color photographs that greatly advance North’s story line. One photo — used on the book’s cover — captures a Navy Corpsman carrying on his shoulders a wounded Iraqi soldier. The American has a young John Wayne look and exhibits massive strength. Laden with gear, ammo, flak jacket, and a wounded soldier, a load of at least 200lbs, the American is jogging. If the 20th Century will be remembered by history as the American century, this photo may someday come to represent this new American decade, the decade in which America set in motion the beginnings of an Islamic reformation.
Any reader of Heroes benefits from the fact that no Western reporter in the country has spent more time on the ground in the war-on-terror than North. Moreover, his unequalled access to the troops and his willingness to accompany them on their most dangerous missions have allowed him to compile detailed accounts and photos of the daily heroism and unsurpassed humanitarianism displayed by the men and women of the U.S. military over the last seven years.
Prior to the invasion, President Bush spoke of how America’s war to remove Saddam Hussein could introduce democratic institutions, pluralism, and greater tolerance into the Muslim world and thereby lessen the threat of further attacks coming from the region. Heroes is a collection of stories that show how America is doing just that. There is no doubt that North’s work will be source material for future historians who will observe that the U.S. fought this war in two theaters for much of this decade in an ambitious attempt to complete two missions simultaneously: improving homeland security and offering the Afghani and Iraqi nations and the whole of the Islamic world, a chance to throw off tyranny, intolerance, and extremism in favor of freedom and tolerance.
Additionally, North’s account provides a detailed analysis of how the war against resurgent radical Islam has brought about the liberation of millions of Afghani and Iraqi women. Despite suicide and mortar attacks, the American military protected the polling places so that all Afghani and Iraqi women could and did vote for the first time in their history. Moreover, North points out that it is the American military that continues to protect women who wish to run for office or hold professional positions in their newly democratic countries. North’s latest book conclusively proves the Obama campaign has a falsehood at its center. With the liberation and elevation of Muslim women, there is hope that any desire to relive the 7th Century conquests of the infidel can be made to wither and die throughout the Muslim world.