Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Endless Argument: Review of "Endless War" by Col. Ralph Peters

Mr. Peters is an effective writer with a lot to say and a lot of it is dead on, but some of it comes off like he just wants to win the argument. Case in point: he repeatedly blasts the Bush administration for incompetence and ineptitude for how it waged war and peace in Iraq between 2003 and 2007 before the "surge" was implemented. As a student of history he cites many historical examples such as the invasion of Normandy in which more than two thousand soldiers were killed on the beach. Was General Eisenhower and his generals incompetent? Was their plan inept? or did they encounter heavier resistance and helplessly watch little mishaps pile up at the water's edge along with the bodies?

Obviously mistakes and missteps piled up in Iraq too - one I agree whole heartedly with Peter's on is the decision to not kill Muqtada al-Sadr and allow him to grow his Mahdi Army in defiance of the new Iraqi government.  According to Ambassador Bremer, he and the Army were for killing the terrorist leader, but were overruled by the Marine Corps leadership who had responsibility for al-Sadr's neighborhood. Was this general incompetent or merely mistaken?

The most important parts of the book are Peter's attempts to convince readers that  al-Qaeda and their ilk truly are Muslim terrorists who actually believe they are fighting a Jihad for Allah. He points out that many westerners, even tough minded intelligence analysts cannot quite wrap their heads around the emotional religious fervor of the enemy.

He is correct that the government in general and the Pentagon in particular has been incompetent when it comes to identifying and analyzing the militant Islamist nature of the enemy. Stories of brave intelligence analysts trying to buck the trend such as Major Coughlin are almost legendary within the defense community.

A followup book that focuses on the Obama administration instead of the Bush administration would be an interesting exercise. One can imagine the biting rebukes the Colonel would have for such recent follies as "man caused disasters", "overseas contingency operations" and more importantly and perhaps tragically the announced timeline/withdrawal date of summer 2011 for large numbers of U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting & fantastic book - a must read.
    And I MUST READ!