Ralph Peters (born 1952) is a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and author. As a novelist he has sometimes written under the pen name Owen Parry.
Peters was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Schuylkill Haven. His father was a coal miner and unsuccessful businessman. His wife, Katherine McIntire Peters, is a reporter for Government Executive magazine (a property of National Journal Group, Inc.).
Peters enlisted in the Army in 1976, after attending Pennsylvania State University.
Peters' first assignment was in Germany. After returning from Germany, he attended Officer Candidate School and received a commission in 1980. Subsequently, he served with 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, then part of the 1st Armored Division.
Peters spent ten years in Germany working in military intelligence. He later became a Foreign Area Officer, specializing in the Soviet Union. He attended the Command and General Staff College. His last assignment was to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. He retired in 1998 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Peters's first novel was Bravo Romeo, a spy thriller set in West Germany, and was published in 1981. Since then his novels progressed from futuristic scenarios involving the Red Army to contemporary terrorism and failed state issues. His characters are often presented as military mavericks who have the knowledge and courage to tackle problems others cannot or will not. His novel, The War After Armageddon, was released in 2009. In 2008 he published the non-fiction Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World. He is a regular contributor to the military history magazine, Armchair General Magazine, and he also serves on its Advisory Board.
He has published numerous essays on strategy in military journals such as Parameters, Military Review, and Armed Forces Journal, reports for the United States Marine Corps (see Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities), formerly wrote a regular opinion column for the New York Post, and has written essays and columns for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Monthly and Army magazine. Peters is a member of the Board of Contributors for USA Today's Forum Page, part of the newspaper's Opinion section.
Role of United States military:
Peters' 1997 article "Constant Conflict" stated: "There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing."
Peters was a strong supporter of the 2003 invasion and ongoing war in Iraq. Defending the war from critics who claimed that Iraq was descending into civil war, he authored a March 5, 2006 piece in the New York Post, entitled "Dude, Where's My Civil War?", in which he wrote: "I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it (...) The Iraqi Army has confounded its Western critics, performing extremely well last week. And the people trust their new army to an encouraging degree." Claims that Iraq was descending into civil war, he wrote, were the politically motivated claims of "irresponsible journalists" who have "staked their reputations on Iraq's failure". By August 2006, Peters had turned more pessimistic on Iraq, stating in an interview with FrontPageMagazine.com that "civil war is closer than it was (...) The leaders squabble, the death squads rule the neighborhoods." He said that while it would be "too early to walk away from Iraq", the fate of the country was threatened by the US's failure after the invasion to provide adequate troop levels to maintain order, as well as "the Arab genius for screwing things up."
On November 2, 2006, he wrote in USA Today: "Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast (...) Iraq could have turned out differently. It didn't. And we must be honest about it. We owe that much to our troops. They don't face the mere forfeiture of a few congressional seats but the loss of their lives. Our military is now being employed for political purposes. It's unworthy of our nation." In this piece he speculated that "only a military coup - which might come in the next few years - could hold the artificial country together" and that "it appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it."
Following the 2006 US Congressional election, Peters wrote: "It's going to be hard. The political aim of the Democrats will be to continue talking a good game while avoiding responsibility through '08. They'll send up bills they know Bush will veto. And they'll struggle to hide the infighting in their own ranks - Dem unity on this war is about as solid as the unity of Iraq. Now that they've won on the issue, the Dems would like Iraq to just go away. But it won't. And they've got to avoid looking weak on defense, so the military will get more money for personnel, at least. But we won't get a comprehensive plan to deal with Iraq or, for that matter, our global struggle with Islamist terrorists. No matter how many troops we send, we're bound to fail if the troops aren't allowed to fight - under the leadership of combat commanders, not politically attuned bureaucrats in uniform. At present, neither party's leaders want to face the truth about warfare - that it can't be done on the cheap and that war can't be waged without shedding blood."
Peters was opposed to what became the Iraq War troop surge of 2007 when it was first proposed. In October 2006 he wrote, "the notion of sending more U.S. troops is strategic and practical nonsense. Had the same voices demanded another 100,000-plus troops in 2003 or even 2004, it would have made a profound, positive difference. Now it's too late." By July 2007, he had changed his mind, writing that U.S. troops were making "serious progress against al-Qaeda-in-Iraq and other extremists", and that while "Iraq's a mess", "we've finally got a general in Baghdad - Dave Petraeus - who's doing things right."
In January 2008, on the first anniversary of the troop surge, he wrote that "the political progress has been remarkable", adding: "Determined to elect a Democrat president, the 'mainstream' media simply won't accept our success. 'Impartial' journalists find a dark cloud in every silver lining in Iraq. And the would-be candidates themselves continue to insist that we should abandon Iraq immediately - as if time had stood still for the past year - while hoping desperately for a catastrophe in Baghdad before November. These are the pols who insisted that the surge didn't have a chance. And nobody calls 'em on it."
By 2009, Peters again became optimistic about Iraq. In July 2009, a day before the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election he wrote, "for all of Iraq's remaining problems - and they're vast - it looks more and more as if 'Bush's Folly' may work out." He added, "We've all come a long way since the dark days of 2006." He also praised Jawad al-Bolani, head of the Interior Ministry, whom he called, "in the context of Iraq... a miracle worker." He praised the Kurdistan election, calling it "a horse-race toward accountability and transparency."
Redrawing borders and regime change:
In a February 2008 column, Peters called for giving the majority-Serb enclave in northern Kosovo to Serbia, calling it a "cancerous issue" that "just promises further conflict down the road - like forcing an ex-husband and -wife to share an apartment after a savage divorce." Regarding Iraq, he wrote, "might it not have been wiser - as several of us suggested in 2003 - to shake off Europe's vicious legacies and give Kurds their state, Iraqi Shias their state, and the country's Sunni Arabs a rump Iraq to do with as they wished?" Regarding all these countries, he wrote, "We needn't launch an endless war to fix the mess Europeans in pinstriped trousers left us - but we'd damned well better accept that, when we expend blood and treasure to prop up phony states, we're standing on the tracks in front of the speeding train of history."
In a column for Armchair General Magazine, he wrote in support of regime change in Syria, Iran and Pakistan: "Syria's determination to develop nuclear weapons apes Iran's and North Korea's nuke programs, as well as Pakistan's successful bid to join the club of nuclear powers ... Given a choice between taking out Osama Bin Laden and his entire leadership network and eliminating renegade nuclear engineers, the latter option might do far more for our long-term security."
In February 2009 Peters called for U.S. troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan, writing, "we've mired ourselves by attempting to modernize a society that doesn't want to be - and cannot be - transformed." He continued, "We needed to smash our enemies and leave. Had it proved necessary, we could have returned later for another punitive mission. Instead, we fell into the great American fallacy of believing ourselves responsible for helping those who've harmed us."
Peters expressed sympathy for POW Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's family, but speculated (Fox News, July 19, 2009) that Bergdahl might be "an apparent deserter ... if he walked away from his post and his buddies in wartime - I don't care how hard it sounds - as far as I'm concerned the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills." He characterized Bergdahl's description (in the Taliban produced video) of U.S. military behavior in Afghanistan as collaboration with the enemy, even if coerced. Peters hoped Bergdahl would be reunited with his family, but argued that the media had glorified one captured soldier who Peter's claimed had shamed his unit and lied, while ignoring genuine heroes and casualties (The O'Reilly Factor, July 21).
Peters was quoted as saying, in regards to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "I am allergic to Rumsfeld. We did a great thing in Iraq, but we did it very badly. He is an extremely talented man but he has the tragic flaw of hubris. His arrogance is unbearable. My friends in uniform just hate him."
In view of WikiLeaks' release of United States diplomatic cables in late 2010, Peters called for the assassination of Julian Assange on FOX News, accusing him of being a cyber-terrorist guilty of crimes against humanity. In this context he claimed that WikiLeaks puts aid workers, human rights workers, journalists and dissidents at risk of torture, assassination and rape.
In 2013, Peters was named as the recipient of the W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association for his novel Cain at Gettysburg.
As Ralph Peters
Bravo Romeo - 1981 ISBN 0-399-90097-7,
Red Army - 1989 ISBN 0-671-67668-7,
The War in 2020 - 1991 ISBN 0-671-67670-9,
Flames of Heaven: A Novel of the End of the Soviet Union - 1994 ISBN 0-8117-2684-3,
The Perfect Soldier - 1995 ISBN 0-671-86583-8,
The Devil's Garden - 1998 ISBN 0-380-97362-6,
Twilight of Heroes - 1999 ISBN 0-8117-2690-8,
Traitor - 1999 ISBN 0-380-97641-2,
The War After Armageddon - 2009 ISBN 978-0-7653-2355-2,
The Officers' Club - 2011 ISBN 978-0-7653-2680-5,
Cain at Gettysburg - 2012 ISBN 9780765330475,
Hell or Richmond - 2013 ISBN 9780765330482,
As Owen Parry
Faded Coat of Blue - 1999 ISBN 9780380976423 OCLC 41035507,
Shadows of Glory - 2000 ISBN 9780380976430 OCLC 44949833,
Call Each River Jordan - 2001 ISBN 9780060186388 OCLC 48754087,
Honor's Kingdom - 2002 ISBN 9780060186340 OCLC 48613435,
The Bold Sons of Erin - 2003 ISBN 9780060513900 OCLC 52041095,
Our Simple Gifts: Civil War Christmas Tales - 2004 ISBN 9780060013783 OCLC 49699128,
Strike the Harp! : American Christmas Stories - 2004 ISBN 9780060572365 OCLC 54529066,
The Rebels of Babylon: a Novel - 2005 ISBN 9780060513924 OCLC 56068791,
Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph? - 1999 ISBN 0-8117-0651-6,
Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World - 2002 ISBN 0-8117-0024-0,
Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace - 2003 ISBN 0-8117-0084-4,
New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy - 2005 ISBN 1-59523-011-4,
Never Quit the Fight - 2006 ISBN 0-8117-3328-9, ISBN 978-0-8117-0274-4,
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century - 2007 ISBN 0-8117-0274-X,
Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World - 2008 ISBN 0-8117-3410-2,
Endless War - 2010 ISBN 9780811705509