Endless War

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer and the author of 25 books, including best-selling, prize-winning novels and influential works on strategy. He is also an opinion columnist for the New York Post and a regular contributor to Armchair General Magazine. A popular media guest, he became Fox News’ first strategic analyst in 2009. He is the author of the new book, Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization.

FP: Ralph Peters, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Tell us about your new book.

Peters: Thanks Jamie.

My new book focuses on cutting through the ideological nonsense perverting our national discussion of war, peace, terrorism and justice.  My fight is to force people to deal with facts, rather than allowing them to make up cozy myths about humanity–or the inhuman creatures we call “terrorists.”  Really, the key to the entire book lies in the introduction, which lays out the terrible price we’re paying for allowing the left to take over our education system and destroy (and virtually eliminate) the teaching of history.  That means we get legislators who vote in an intellectual vacuum, journalists who can’t put the things they witness into context, and voters susceptible to wild lies.  As the book says, those who do not know history will die of myth.  And nowhere in the current yelling contest that passes for a national debate is myth more powerful than in the refusal to accept that Islamist terrorists really do exist and really do believe that they’re doing their god’s will.  So I try to base my judgements and make my cases on historical facts–the sort that are not subject to dispute (except by the left’s myth-makers, of course).

Beyond that, the book’s a world tour of our problems–not merely recounting them, but trying to understand why the problems have emerged and why it’s so difficult for us to combat them.  It may sound self-contradictory, but I’d describe the book as a work of “impassioned rationality.”  And by the way: I don’t toe anybody’s line.  I want to challenge independents and conservatives to think for themselves, too, since we’re so terribly susceptible, as a species, to group-think.  The herd mentality is an even greater enemy than al-Qaeda.  So I’m willing to risk unhappy readers–as long as I can spur them to think for themselves.

FP: Why your subtitle?

Peters: (He said with a laugh) Every non-fiction book has to have a sub-title these days, doesn’t it?  For example, Nancy Pelosi’s forthcoming autobiography, NANCY!  How I Turned a Bad Date With America into an Awful Marriage While Turning Men Into Mice on Capitol Hill…

Seriously, it’s an interesting question, since, in a sense, this book could have been written at any point since the seventh century, when Islam began its endless jihad.  Of course, the details would have been different, but not the overall theme: That you have to fight Islamist fanatics to the death, there’s no alternative.  That said, had the book been published at any time prior to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the sub-title would have been different, it would have been “Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Christian Civilization,” rather than “Western Civilization.”  But the West, overall, is no longer Judeo-Christian, except in heritage.  The USA excepted, we’re a secular civilization, with all the good and ill that brings along.  So that’s one more asymmetry in the current struggle: We fight for values, our enemies fight for faith.

The first third of the book recounts the high points (and low points) of the long military struggle with Islam, as I try to arm the reader with facts to refute the utter nonsense that “Islam’s a religion of peace.”  I document some of the most-important battles and campaigns–exciting to read about, but often grim in their results–over the centuries, looking at Islam’s centuries of military triumphs that almost destroyed our civilization, then the recent centuries in which the tide turned as Islam failed to compete as a civilization.  Those tales from history are fun to read (God knows, the left hates the thought that history might offer interesting stories that teach us something), but they’re also essential to understanding the deep roots of today’s wars.

FP: What is wrong with the U.S. approach toward our enemy? How must we change it?

Peters: We refuse to recognize our enemy or call him by his name (I think, always, of Goethe’s line from Faust, “Wer darf das Kind beim rechten Namen nennen?  “Who dares to call the child by its true name?”).  Recently, President Obama promised a Muslim audience that he’d eliminate any reference to Islamist terrorists or the like from our national security documents.  Good Lord!  It’s as if, in World War II, we decided we couldn’t utter the word “Nazi,” since it might hurt our enemy’s feelings.  Our mortal enemies are jumping up and down, screaming that they’re terrorists in the name of Islam.  Our response?  “Oh, they don’t really mean it…”  Yeah, well, they do mean it.  Not every Muslim is a problem, but some Muslims certainly are.

How can we effectively combat an enemy when we’re even afraid of the enemy’s name?  This is political correctness beyond the bounds of sanity.  So another thing the book does is to dissect the twisted language our government and even our military now uses to avoid acknowledging that fanatical religion is the crucial factor in our current struggles.  It’s astonishing: We have generals who insist that Islam isn’t involved in any of this, and doctrinal manuals that ignore religion.  We refuse to apply common sense: If you could subtract Islam from the problem, you just wouldn’t have al Qaeda or the Taliban.  They’re fighting for other factors, too, of course.  But Islam is the primary motivator, the primary sustainer, and the primary objective.  Pretending otherwise just kills our troops for nothing…although, sadly, both political parties are fine with that, as long as we don’t offend anybody.  (And this is a key point: While the Democrats are the worst offenders, plenty of Republicans in Washington are outright cowards on this issue.)

The book makes it clear that Islam was born by the sword, spread by the sword, and still reverts to the sword when under stress.  And it makes the case using historical facts, not rhetoric.

All that said, I do want to make it perfectly clear: I don’t believe that each and every Muslim spends each and every day dreaming up ways to kill us.  The problem lies among those who find their faith a spur to violence, the fanatics, the true believers who want to return the world to a “pure Islam” that never really existed (Wahhabism is an eighteenth century Bedouin heresy posing as the one true Islam).  But we don’t understand them, either.  For example, the book dissects our idiotic counterinsurgency doctrine–our guidebook for Afghanistan–which not only doesn’t mention Islam, but can’t tell the difference between ideological revolutionaries and religious reactionaries.  In Afghanistan–which is discussed at length–we’re the revolutionaries, the ones trying to bring change.  Our enemies are fighting for traditions, myths and darkness.  We’re muddled, befuddled and failing.

FP: Obama appears to be bullying and abandoning Israel. Meanwhile, we have the horror of a nuclear Iran on our hands, and their first target will be Israel. What must Israel do, now that, it appears, it is alone?

Peters: On a recent Fox broadcast, I made the point that I don’t believe the Obama administration would respond militarily even if Iran popped a nuke on Israel.  The situation’s hateful to me, but this administration will not defend Israel.  Obama is already resigned to the advent of an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability.  The sanctions nonsense is just window dressing, at this point.  So what does that mean?  At some point, Israel will feel compelled to act pre-emptively…but Israel only has the capability to set back, not to destroy, Iran’s nuke program (which is widely dispersed, buried deep and/or located in heavily populated areas).

The Israeli strike will be a bloody mess, the Iranians will respond asymmetrically by closing the Straits of Hormuz and hitting Gulf oil fields and infrastructure, and we’ll be stuck defending Arab autocracies–while avoiding resolute military action against Iran.  At best, the situation would be catastrophic.  Obama’s just hoping it doesn’t happen on his watch–and he’ll do all he can to discourage Israel from defending itself as long as he’s in the White House.  At this point, it’s clear that Obama finds Israel distasteful and that his sympathies lie with the Arabs.  The US now has a president with a Third-World outlook locked in the 1970s campus prejudices of his youth.  But, then, at no time in his past has Obama had a pro-Israel friend I can identify.  Throughout his lifetime, his public associates have been pro-Palestinian.  He is who he is.

FP: Your thoughts on the Obama administration and how it is or isn’t dealing with the terror war and protecting U.S. national security.

Peters: I do give the Obama administration credit for continuing and even expanding the Bush administration’s use of drones and other means to target terrorists on foreign soil.  Obama knows he can’t afford–politically speaking–a major terrorist attack on the US during his presidency.  He’s not protecting America, he’s protecting his career and the historical legacy his acolytes are already engraving in marble.  Beyond that, Obama’s actions across the board amount to a negative for our national security.  He’s a leftwing ideologue who prefers developing-world thugs to our traditional allies.  And he’s a narcissistic fool.  Obama’s most dangerous quality is his unbounded faith in his own charisma.

The next few years will be interesting.

FP: You’re a hardworking writer, every five seconds or so you have some new piece of work out. What’s your next book?

Peters: This one will be very different.  I recently finished another novel, The Officers’ Club, set on an Army post in the early 1980s.  It’s scheduled for publication next January.  It’s R-rated, and it could as readily have been called Lieutenants Behaving Very, Very Badly.  It’s set at a time when the Army was still recovering from Vietnam, our society was still reeling from the excesses of the 1970s, and Reagan had just taken the helm.  That was the battered Army in which I grew up…strait-laced on duty, but wild after hours…  On one level, the novel’s a murder mystery–it begins with the murder of a female lieutenant–but, really, it’s my memorial to a bygone Army, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Today’s military is much, much better (and certainly better-behaved).  But I’ve just never seen a well-written book about “my” Army.  The book will surprise those who know me only through my writing on strategy and security–but, fair warning, the next book after that will be even more surprising.  Writing’s an adventure.  Just like life.  When you become predictable, it’s time to pack it in.

FP: Well, I’m very much looking forward to reading this book for sure!

Ralph Peters, thank you for joining us.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    It is very true that "… had the book been published at any time prior to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the sub-title would have been "Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Christian Civilization", while nowadays the Christian Civilization is on the run.

    And had the book been published before 20-21th centuries, Islamic wealth would be limited by rugs and camels, while nowadays we empowered them with trillions of oil money. This money factor alone is so powerful that it has dramatically changed the overall balance.

    Yet it is not just about "the high points (and low points) of the long military struggle with Islam". It is a unique deadly confluence of several effects comprising a perfect storm:
    http://www.resonoelusono.com/Imminent.htm

  • tarleton

    Islam is to Religion , what Nazism is to race…it's supremicist

    Sometime , in the not too distant future , these Medieval maniacs are going to get their hands on a 1kt Nuclear weapon , to use on the financial area of a large western city…there will be no warning and NO ONE to take responsibility…like Sept 11th , it will come out of the blue…it will be Martyres Day…the greatest day for Islam since the fall of Constantinople

    • BS1977

      Great points….this is a sick, demented death cult that unfortunately holds over one billion people in its thrall….that's five hundred million women subject to the misogynistic rules and cultural detritus from the Dark Ages……..Until the West gets real about this barbaric scourge nothing will change…more placating,more appeasement, more submissive confusion….sanctions, conferences, accords, committee reports….all nonsense…the West needs to DEFEAT this horror…not co exist with it.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    It is very true that "… had the book been published at any time prior to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the sub-title would have been "Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Christian Civilization", while nowadays the Christian Civilization is on the run.

    And had the book been published before 20-21th centuries, Islamic wealth would be limited by rugs and camels, while nowadays we empowered them with trillions of oil money. This money factor alone is so powerful that it has dramatically changed the overall balance.

    Yet it is not just about "the high points (and low points) of the long military struggle with Islam". It is a unique deadly confluence of several effects comprising a perfect storm:
    http://www.resonoelusono.com/Imminent.htm

    • http://www.facebook.com/michel.richy.7 Michel Richy

      Researchers have found that the mind can rearrange itself when encountered with new difficulties, even through maturity. Based on this research, Lumosity's workouts are designed to practice a range of intellectual features, from working memory to liquid intellect.
      fun for brain

  • Turbeaux

    I remember just a couple of years ago when Ralph Peters was lost with respect to Islam. It appears that he has made a remarkable turn around. Good to see it.

  • William Smart

    To accuse Obama's government of being pro-Palestinian is simply breath-taking.

    The White House's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel is the son of a Zionist terrorist, who served in the IDF during the Gulf War (to which Israel contributed nothing, but took protection away from US troops). Think about it and wonder what's going on.

    • 9-11 Infidel

      So what. Peters is correct in his assesment. Obama is pro=Arab and anti-Israel. Asthey say actions speak louder than words. Obama's actions thus far in the ME as far as Israel are concerned show just how anti-Israel he is. He's given plenty of cash to the PLO/PLFP and stopped shipments of weapons to Israel. Obama kowtows to the enemies of this country and disses friends. Emanuel is a Kapo at best when it comes to Israel. His father was a hero. His son is a zero.

    • USMCSniper

      former top US intelligence official warns that the Obama Administration is about to break America's long ties of friendship with Israel, and maybe even take steps toward the dissolution of the Jewish state. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Douglas Hagmann of the Northeast Intelligence Network, the source said: The Obama Administration is preparing to "provide more support to Arab countries [with] financial and military aid, undercutting Israel’s defense efforts all while pushing Israel to succumb to the pressure of unreasonable demands designed to end with their political annihilation as a nation," said the source. Israeli officials have of late noted a marked increase in the pressure from Washington to more rapidly acquiesce to Arab land-for-peace demands, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has clarified that Washington is none to pleased with incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to commit to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state with Jerusalem as its capital.

    • brenanc

      Your belief that the Obama Administration is not pro-Palestinian is likely matched by your confusion between Oskar Schindler and Reihard Heydrich.

      You took my breath away William.

    • Lawrence Cooper

      Israel was told to stand down during the Gulf War so as not to irritate our Arab allies.

      Learn your history.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/zapadnik zapadnik

    Peters mentions "the terrible price we’re paying for allowing the left to take over our education system and destroy (and virtually eliminate) the teaching of history". Exactly here is the weak spot. The left is dreaming of a pie in the sky – i.e. the future. So to hell with the past. The brightest thinkers of humanity avoided this intellectual abyss. 2300 years ago Sun Tzu warned: "tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat!"

  • 9-11 Infidel

    The endless war is a 1400 yr old war against the West that began in the 7th century. Jihad is commanded of all Muslims to participate in if physically able until the only religion left is Allah's. Western media is afraid to admit it, because they are scared. Yet they have no problem criticising Christians and Jews. Why? Because the latter won't come after them with bogus lawsuits or attack them physically in the streets. That and the whole multicultural-Chomsky redefinition of terms designed to obfuscate and divert from the real threat posed by the impealist, supremacist actions of the Religion of Submission. So the MSM plays the Dhimi and dolts like Obambi pay the jizya.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      Perhaps its about time Christians and Jews did start suing. Really kick the MSM in the pants until they start reporting the truth and stop bowing to arselifters.

  • Connie

    Hurrah for Ralph Peters!

  • 9-11 Infidel

    "Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." -Absolutely spot on.

    "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle." – Sun Tzu

    Gotta wonder what they are teaching at the War College anymore.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      I don't know about the War College, but I do know a young man who will be graduating from West Point, this year. Four years ago, he described himself as a "true Reagan conservative". Now, he can't think of anything that Obama has done wrong, since taking office.

      Hopefully, there will be Platoon Sergeant available to de-program the kid …

  • BS1977

    Just approve the comment and get on with it…..FPM used to be a cool site…now it's gotten so weird….I mean, sometimes I can post, sometimes not…what gives??

  • cochavi1

    Very active and diligent individual, Mr. Peters, who has indeed come a good distance in his evaluation of Islam.

  • cochavi1

    Sorry, should be 'Colonel' Peters in respect of his military intelligence.

  • Jim C.

    OK, I admit I am bored with the "We have to understand Islam is dangerous!" motif day in day out. Yes, it's dangerous, we get it.

    What I find interesting here are all Peters's trifling criticisms of Obama; these amount to pure speculation ("He won't defend Israel!") ("He's protecting his legacy, not America!") Yet when the discussion turns factual, he must admit Obama's doing a good job prosecuting the War on Terror. LOL! Peters may have been a good colonel, but he's sure a political lightweight.