Muslim Allies Receive Wake-up Call

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, November 21, that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST-HOST: Bomb blasts in Istanbul (search), rocket attacks on donkey carts in Baghdad. What are we to make of this in the context of the war on terror? Joining us with answers, Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Baghdad Postmodern War and Peace.

Ralph, let's talk a little bit. I want to talk about a column you have in today's New York Post, because it's wonderfully focuses on a key issue. Various parties within the Muslim world figured, you know what? We're immune from this. Here you have an Islamic party ruling Turkey for the first time in its history as a democratic state. And lo behold, they have get attacked. You have the Saudis getting attacked. It appears now that some of our Muslim allies really have gotten a wake-up call.

RALPH PETERS, AUTHOR, BEYOND BAGHDAD: Yes. And I -- they did think because they were Muslims they wouldn't be attacked. In the Saudi case, they also paid enormous bribes, essentially, and subsidized terror. And the Saudis felt that their Wahabi version of Islam is so strict that surely no one could attack them. But -- and the Turks, of course, are more liberal, although they have various degrees of strict Islam and it's becoming more Islamic.

But the real key thing here is not that it's Islam or Christianity. It is just extreme, religious fanaticism. It's about the devils in their heads more than the world outside. And you'll never please these people no matter how strictly devout you are. If you don't conform exactly to Usama bin Laden's variant or Mullah Mohammed Omar's variant, you're a heretic.

SNOW: Well, what's interesting here is you call that religious fundamentalism. But what it really is guys who are psych -- basically psychotic or...

PETERS: To put it kindly.

SNOW: ... sociopaths, who use religion as the excuse for ennobling their deeds. They use that as their crutch. It's very hard to dignify it with the name of religion. Nevertheless, what's also been interesting is for a long time, religious figures in the Muslim world were afraid to stand up and call them out.

PETERS: Well, that is absolutely true. Of course, there is a long history of abuse of religions. And the Muslim world, they have such mixed feelings about the west. And some hands -- on one hand, there was really - - you know, almost a glee in some parts after 9/11, because they really felt that, you know, this was getting back at America, but now it's coming home.

And especially, Tony, we're doing a great job on security, as evidenced by the absence of attacks in this country. In London, during President Bush's visit, there was no attack. The closest the Al Qaeda affiliates could get was Istanbul. So we're doing very well in the war on terror. But the penalty is that Al Qaeda wants to strike somewhere. They're striking at home.

SNOW: OK. Ralph stand by.


Let's talk a little bit about the impact, also of what went on in Istanbul on European opinion. It was interesting to see that although it appeared to have been timed to frighten, maybe, or to drive a wedge between the Americans and the Brits, it appeared to do the opposite.

PETERS: Yes. Well, certainly our enemies in Al Qaeda often misunderstand us. Usama bin Laden (search) and his paladins really believe that 9/11 would so terrify the United States that we'd retreat into Fortress America and be at his mercy. They don't understand the Brits, either. When the Brits are threatened, they really get their back up. They are tough as are the Aussies and the Poles. And so, this backfired on them.

And it also backfired within Turkey. The Turkish people overwhelmingly do not support extremism and terrorism. And they are horrified. They didn't expect this to happen. The Turks are very proud and this is a great embarrassment for them.

But for the Europeans, Tony, it is interesting. What the Europeans are seeing is a plague creeping towards them. It's harder and harder to hit America. It is harder and harder to hit the U.K. They couldn't do it this week; they would have loved to. And now it is -- you know, it's hit New York. The plague has hit New York. The plague has hit Riyadh (search). It's Istanbul. It is coming. It is going to hit France and Germany.

SNOW: And that is one of the interesting things. One of the members of Ariel Sharon's cabinet today was warning, in fact, that Europeans don't understand that they are next. Now, we already saw that after the bombing in Istanbul...

PETERS: Sounds like 1938

SNOW: It sure does. And was targeted at the British consulate and also the British bank. And the British response was to get angry at the terrorists. And also, interestingly enough, completely took the starch out of what was supposed to be the largest protest ever, you know, or whatever. It just absolutely fizzled.

PETERS: And it did. And I think it was programmed to fizzle anyway, because really, the British people are very matter of fact 'commonsensical.' We have a strong heritage from them. And people forget that in 1940, the Brits stood up to the world alone, until we joined them after Pearl Harbor over a year later. The Brits are perfectly capable of standing up to Al Qaeda.

SNOW: Do you believe that the French and the Germans are similarly able to do so or is it going to have to take a shock before they change their attitude?

PETERS: It will take a shock. But we'll find that the Germans and the French are wonderful allies once their interests are threatened.

SNOW: Well, it is especially interesting because the French are still a colonial power. And as a consequence, they know how to fight dirty when they have to, and are pretty skilled at doing it.

PETERS: Yes. In fact, you know I know I've written about this. One of the things that concerns me, if you take a long-term view on the war on terror, is I can envision a scenario where after France is hit. And it will be hit, whether it is a month from now or three years from now. They have such internal problems with their Muslim immigrants who they've never allowed to become real Frenchmen...

SNOW: Although now approaching 20 percent of the population.

PETERS: Yes. So, it is a time bomb ticking. But they are going to get hit a devastating blow. It will be a shock to them. And I can foresee a scenario some years in the future where the United States may have to restrain the French because they do behave barbarously. You know, I've seen what they do around the world. And we don't want our soldiers, associated with the French Foreign Legion for instance, who are absolute animals.

SNOW: Oh, that's why I brought it up. So, now we're looking at this last week. Do you look at the president's trip as having been symbolic at having advance success or cooperation in the war on terror? Or having been a setback in his efforts to try to fight the war?

PETERS: No, I think -- I was a bit concerned about the possible size of the protest, violence, bombings. But really this was a very successful trip. He toughed it out. He is a tough guy, too. He is a Texan and went ahead with it. And despite all the naysayers, it's turned out to be a very positive trip and both on November 6 in his speech, and the speeches this is week, he sound like a statesman. And his enemies won't credit him. George Bush is turning into a leading statesman. History will recognize that. Unfortunately many people today don't.

SNOW: All right. Ralph Peters, thank you for joining us.

Again, Ralph's most recent book Beyond Baghdad, Postmodern War and Peace.

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