Last Thursday, hours after Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., proclaimed the Iraq War "lost," U.S. Navy Lt. Jason Nichols was e-mailing Michelle Malkin from his office in Baghdad with a message for Reid.
"Your [Reid's] words are killing us," Nichols writes. "Your statements make the Iraqis afraid to help us for fear we'll leave them unprotected in the future."
Earlier that day — before Reid's infamous declaration of defeat — I was on the phone with Nichols, who told me, 'We are winning," explained to me how he knows we are winning, why the troops actually doing the fighting continue to support the war effort, and what he and others are doing to get the facts in front of the American people.
Nichols, a Naval officer currently serving in Iraq, oversees a grassroots effort recently launched by a small group of active-duty servicemen and women hoping to communicate to Congress "the troops' desire to remain in Iraq" until the mission is complete.
The effort — AppealforCourage.org — has been collecting signatures for a petition that reads:
As an American currently serving my nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to fully support our mission in Iraq and halt any calls for retreat. I also respectfully urge my political leaders to actively oppose media efforts, which embolden my enemy while demoralizing American support at home. The War in Iraq is a necessary and just effort to bring freedom to the Middle East and protect America from further attack.
AppealforCourage.org is also a counter-effort to antiwar AppealforRedress.org. The latter's petition reads:
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.As of this writing, AppealforCourage.org, has received 2,172 signatures. AppealforRedress.org, has received 1,855. It's not a lot of signatures for either group relative to the size of the U.S. armed forces. But as Nichols explains, "Appeal for Redress has received quite a bit more media exposure than Appeal for Courage, and we've exceeded their number of signatures in a third of the time it took them to collect theirs."
Appeal for Courage has been collecting signatures since mid-February 2007. Appeal for Redress has been gathering signatures since October 2006.
"They've also received quite a bit of funding," says Nichols. "They've hired a professional advertising group. They've appeared in a bunch of newspapers, and were featured on 60 Minutes."
He adds, "Redress is also paying for about four different caravans that drive around to bases, park outside, and get people to sign."
Not so for Appeal for Courage. "We're just word of mouth," says Nichols. "Most people in the military haven't heard of us."
Nichols's motivations to launch Appeal for Courage were based on five factors, the first of which was the existence of Appeal for Redress.
'Also, almost everybody I talk to in the military overwhelmingly supports our staying in Iraq until the job is done," he says. "And I wanted to give service members a chance to express their support for the mission. The disparity between what you see in the media and what military members say is pretty wide. Most of us in the military think we can win in Iraq, and most believe we are winning in Iraq."