Does Anyone Even Read Ralph Peters Anymore?

by Joshua Foust on 5/29/2008 · 2 comments

From his latest column, this is a man who:

  • Thinks the al-Qaeda in Iraq is the same al-Qaeda in Pakistan, the latter of which is the al-Qaeda which actually attacked the U.S. on 9/11.
  • Considers drawing down our presence in Iraq is “unconditional surrender.”
  • Believes the only strategic consideration the U.S. faces in the CENTCOM AO and, let’s be honest, the entire planet, is Iraq.
  • Ignores the opinions of the U.S. Intelligence Community and Generals Petraeus and Odierno, who have all said that, despite our best efforts, the most likely next attack on America will come from Afghanistan/Pakistan, not Iraq.
  • Has yet to say anything useful about how to deal with Afghanistan, the most likely source of the next expeditionary attack from al-Qaeda, when the black hole of Iraq is sucking up all the available resources.
  • Is unable to look at U.S. military strategy through anything other than a shallow and polemic oversimplification of partisan politics.

And so on. While he’s busy accusing 80% of the U.S. as well as most of the Republican Party (in addition to some Democrats, his real target) of being “time travelers”—a clever straw man meant to write off the many reasoned, and conservative, arguments for immediate withdrawal so we can be more productive elsewhere—he can’t be bothered to look beyond the narrow patch of sand that has come to define his entire persona. There is a universe beyond Iraq, Ralph. Maybe paying attention to something else, as I wish our President had done in the 2002/2003 timeframe on into the present, could have prevented not only all of our current problems there, but most the ones we quite necessarily took on in Afghanistan (the majority of which result from under-resourcing, thanks in large degree to Iraq).

It’s a tough sell to claim that Iraq is the real fight against al-Qaeda. There are other reasons to advocate fighting there, but protecting American interests and dealing with the actual movement that relentlessly attacked American citizens and territory for a decade is not one of them. Then again, this is a guy who thinks Pervez Musharraf is a selfless martyr of democracy in Pakistan, and our best friend EVAR in combatting terrorism. Put otherwise, his grip on reality can at best be called tenuous. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. And I’m physically weak.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Mark Wells June 19, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Hmm…. You put words together here but they don’t make sense.
Nearly every point ignores nuance and is over the top on interpretation. “the entire planet?”
al-Qaeda is al-Qaeda and a Democrat in California is the same as a Democrat in New York. And by the way both are gutwrenchingly bad for America in their own unique ways.

Joshua Foust June 21, 2008 at 11:47 pm


I’m afraid I have to ask for some further characterization. Considering Peters’ grasp of world events, his relentless focus on Iraq as if total domination there were America’s sole interest leads me to make the “entire planet” remark. Similarly, “al-Qaeda is al-Qaeda” is not true at all — many groups with no relationship to or heritage from the original bin Laden/Zawahiri al-Qaeda still nevertheless call themselves “al-Qaeda,” probably because it sounds scary. The 3/11 bombers in Spain are a case in point: no funding or solid ideological ties back to the original AQ, yet they still claimed to have some.

I would highly suggest this FP essay on the topic, which quite persuasively argues that AQ is most assuredly not AQ.

Also, nice parallel you draw, between al-Qaeda and Democrats. Classy.

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