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Uber-Hawk Ralph Peters Reports from Iraq: No Civil War, Security Forces Self-Sufficient, Oodles of Smiles from Happy Iraqis Living in Baghdad "Slum"

Reported by Marie Therese - March 8, 2006

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, made a well-publicized statement during Sunday's Meet the Press, saying that things in Iraq are going "very, very well". Yesterday morning (3-7-06) it was obvious that FOX New had its marching orders: Back up the General's assertions. Consequently the FOX & Friends trio of Tiki Barber (sitting in for Steve Doocy), Page Hopkins and Brian Kilmeade "reported" that there is no civil war, courtesy of an article written for the Murdoch-owned New York Post by Colonel Ralph Peters (US Army, ret.), the man who once said this to FOX's John Gibson during the attack on Fallujah:

Well, the best outcome, frankly, is if they're all killed. But we obey the laws of war. If they at the last minute throw up their hands, before we can kill them, we will accept their surrender. But the prisoners, frankly, are a liability.

We'll obey the laws of war, but our troops are clearly out to kill.

And they are using effective targeting, just hammering these guys, and we shoot straight. And, so, when I look at - when I hear numbers above 500 already killed, that's good.

And it does sound - the rumors I'm hearing or back channels I'm hearing - are that the proportion of killed to prisoners is extraordinarily high and that is good news because, at the end of the day, this is about taking Fallujah away from the terrorists as a safe haven. But it's also, frankly, about killing terrorists.

You'll hear nonsense about "Oh, we can't kill our way out of a terrorist problem." You kill enough of the right people and you make the problem a lot smaller. (Big Story, 11-10-04).

Peters also said this to Bill O'Reilly during an O'Reilly Factor that aired on 2/7/06: " ... [You] know, the civilization, especially of middle eastern Islam, is so sick that you know, you start to despair about whether there's any hope for it whatsoever."

Here's what the FOX & Friends hosts had to say Tuesday morning, March 7, 2006:

BRIAN KILMEADE: ... Ralph Peters. He's a columnist and a former - great author, too - a Colonel in the Army. And he decided: I'm gonna go to Iraq. Gonna hook with a few units and find out the truth on the ground. And I don't know if you have a chance to read it, if you're outside of New York, if you're goin' online. But it's been fascinating because he's there doin' what everyone's calling one of the worst sectarian unrest periods since we went into Iraq and he has a different story to tell.

PAGE HOPKINS: He has a totally untold story. It's so inspiring. He said, you know, no matter what you're reading in the media, 100,000 soldiers were maintaining public order in the last couple of weeks in all of the unrest post that bombing of a mosque. He was talking with a lot of these guys, a lot of these men who are now manning the Iraqi security forces and he says they are much better that we're giving them credit for and that a lot of these reports coming out of Iraq saying it's really the allied forces who are protecting the Iraqi people is just not the case and certainly hasn't been in the last two weeks.

TIKI BARBER: And it's interesting here because a lot of the news - and you pointed out - on the front of The New York Times it talks about how it is going to be a problem. The Iraqi military is not ready. But in this case, his personal experience is, he said, after the Golden Mosque bombing, the Iraqis are the ones who took control of this situation. They recalled all of the military. They thought there would be some strife, but there wasn't. Everyone came back. Everyone returned to their post and held up admirably in what a lot of people were saying was the start of a civil war.

KILMEADE: They said 1300 were dead. The fact is there were 250 dead. Many could have been from natural causes because he [Peters] was researching on his own.

HOPKINS: Um-hmm.

KILMEADE: When [Rep. Jack] Murtha came out and says [sic] we're at 50% of oil production for prewar levels, the fact is they are over right now what the prewar levels were for oil production as they rebuild the infrastructure there and keep in mind there's three different elections. In Time Magazine they write a headline that Iraq's on the Iraq [sic] breaking point. Well, they passed the breaking point!

HOPKINS: Right. Exactly.

KILMEADE: 'Cause it's a week later - and they already had their meetings with their new government The Washington Post today talks about the tribes getting together to fight Zarqawi. 300 tribal chiefs, cleric and sectarian officials got together over the Anbar Province and just said: We're gonna just take on these terrorists because they don't have our best interests and they're trying to assassinate us. So they're actually goin' up against the terrorists. The Telegraph is reporting - excuse me - the Washington Post also goes on to say that they're finding out the Iran, the Iranian government is manufacturing these IED's


KILMEADE: ... that are killing our guys.

BARBER: Yeah. So there is more good news that is coming out of Iraq than is reported on sometimes.

HOPKINS: And the Iraqi security forces certainly better able to keep peace in their country than you would believe if you were looking at the cover of even The New York Times this morning. Again, Ralph Peters. Great article if you can read it in the New York Post about the untold story of how successful the Iraqi security forces really have become.


Here is some of what Col. Peters had to say in his March 5th column:

I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.

Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills.

And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis.

Let me tell you what I saw anyway. Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.


In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.

Southeast Baghdad, at least, was happy to see our troops.


So what did I learn from a day in the dust and muck of Baghdad's less-desirable boroughs? As the long winter twilight faded into haze and the fires of the busy shawarma stands blazed in the fresh night, I felt that Iraq was headed, however awkwardly, in the right direction.

The country may still see a civil war one day. But not just yet, thanks. Violence continues. A roadside bomb was found in the next sector to the west. There will be more deaths, including some of our own troops. But Baghdad's vibrant life has not been killed. And the people of Iraq just might surprise us all. (End Excerpt)

I was struck by a number of ironies in reporting on this story.

First, just prior to this rose-colored hymn in praise of the "untold" good news from Iraq, FOX News' Baghdad correspondent Andrew Stack filed a report noting that Tom Fox, the American hostage held by Sword if Islam, did not appear in the most recent ransom video. No explanation of his absence was given by his captors. Mr. Stack then went on to report:

"Meanwhile, violence continues today around Iraq. At least 11 people died here in Baghdad in a series of attacks ranging from bombings to mortars to small arms fire. Snipers assassinated the Iraqi General in charge of protecting Baghdad yesterday. Today two car bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Both were detonated by remote control. The second bomb exploded in a crowded market. Amazingly only three people were wounded there. And it's been another rough day for Iraqi police. Four officers were killed today in two separate attacks in Beji and Baqubah ..."

Wait a minute! If FOX News continues this kind of negative, sensationalist reporting, they'll have to face Colonel Peters' wrath!

Secondly, in the column Peters vilified other journalists because they would not leave the safety of the Green Zone and thereby he set himself up as some kind of macho-macho-man. The truth is slightly different. Col Peters certainly did not wander alone around Baghdad. By his own admission, he was "riding with 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division". Where's the bravery in that?

Thirdly, I'd like to remind Col. Peters that a smiling civilian face in a war zone is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. An occupied people caught between two strong opposing forces will mask their true feelings in deference to whichever of the two stronger forces happens to be present.

Fourthly, don't you just love the Murdoch machine? This segment is a perfect example of News Corporation's slick, seamless cross-promotion. The FOX & Friends' hosts never mentioned that FOX and the N Y Post are owned by the same company (News Corporation), yet act as though they are innocently referring their viewers to just another article in just another daily News York paper.

Lastly, during a gut-wrenching segment yesterday with a woman from a veteran's support group, FOX & Friend's E. D. Hill and the FOX viewers learned that Halliburton, KBR and other war contractors have provided up to 9 plasma screen TV's to a commanding officer but can't seem to cough up an extra set of boots or proper body armor for our soldiers. So tell me again how great things are going in Iraq?

NOTE: Post corrected to reflect that this segment occurred on Tuesday, March 7, 2006

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