Are we losing the war in Afghanistan?

The 'Factor' investigates the volatile situation in Afghanistan after the Koran burning controversy


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight, eight days ago some U.S. military people burned a few Qurans at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. American authorities say the holy books were being used to pass messages among captured insurgents.

Well, after word got out about the burnings all hell broke loose, pardon the pun. And now the death toll has reached 39, including four American soldiers killed in a secure area.

President Obama has apologized for the burnings, but many Afghans are still furious. So what is the big picture here?

Joining us now from Orlando, Florida, Colonel David Hunt, and from Washington, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, the author of the brand-new book "Cain at Gettysburg."

So has the tide turned against us in Afghanistan, Colonel Peters?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL RALPH PETERS, AUTHOR, "CAIN AT GETTYSBURG": Well, Bill, we won the war by early 2002. But we've lost the peace. And we lost it by setting ridiculously ambitious goals, trying to turn Afghanistan into America.

And I'm very troubled by the fact that we've reached a point where we had the U.S. Commander General Allen doing his best, telling our troops respect Afghan culture, respect Afghan culture, when Afghans are shooting our officers in the back of head in the interior ministry.

And then yesterday, Bill, we hit an absolute low point in Obama's war… and it is Obama's war now… when White House spokesman Jay Carney blamed Bush for this week's problems after the Quran burnings. Remember, Obama said..

O'REILLY: How did he blame… I missed that. How did he blame President Bush? How did he do that?

PETERS: The clip I heard he said, you know, this is a result of Bush's failed policies over the years.

O'REILLY: Look, look, here's the deal. The Pentagon says that this Quran thing doesn't really reflect the majority of Afghans. That we are… the United States winning the war on the ground, pacifying very difficult areas. Now we're moving into the east to do that. That this is like a blip.

Is that true or is this a popular uprising against the United States that's going to have ramifications for a long time?

PETERS: Bill, we have been there for over 10 years, have spent countless billions. Given a lot of blood. And General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, could not walk down the street of a single Afghan city today unarmed and survive.

O'REILLY: All right.

PETERS: Yes, the Taliban are behind the uprising and the rioting, of course, but my God, we've been there 10 years. Where are the people supporting us?

O'REILLY: I kind of agree: the folks there are not really rallying… not really appreciating what America has done. Now Colonel Hunt, you -- do you believe that we're losing the war there, that it's all over?

COLONEL DAVID HUNT, U.S. MILITARY: I think that once… as with Iraq, a war that we're doing turns into a counterinsurgency. It doesn't become a win-lose; it becomes a success. We seemed to have left Iraq thinking we had success.

In Afghanistan, once we took the country and it turned into a counterinsurgency, you can't define it by win or lose. And right now we're not having success.

The people at the Pentagon talking about the areas they have covered. Just talk about what happens at night. For example, 60 percent of the cell-phone coverage in Afghanistan gets turned off at night because the people are afraid the Taliban is going to kill them or people that run the towers. It is not a safe country yet. And it won't be for another 10 years. Ten years of war.

O'REILLY: I don't think it will be until the folks start to figure out what they want. Do they want the Taliban or do they want a western- style democracy? And, to me, they don't want the western-style democracy.

And always remember, there are no mass communications in Afghanistan. I mean, they hear rumors and this and that. But there's no TV. There's no radio. They don't know what the hell is going on there. Doesn't know about the folks are behind this. It's almost like South Vietnam. You know, protect us, but we're not really behind you.

Go ahead, Colonel.

HUNT: We didn't go into Afghanistan for a democracy, as Ralph said. We went into Afghanistan to kill bin Laden. Bin Laden is dead.

O'REILLY: Yes, but we changed.

HUNT: Everything in al Qaeda. It evolved into this democracy- building business and peace keeping, which we don't do very well. Our guys, we’ve spent billions of dollars and lost a lot of guys. The success rate is not good.

O'REILLY: Let's give… let's give Colonel Peters the last word. Go.

PETERS: Look, 10 years, we cannot get the Afghans to fight for the Karzai government, and they won't fight for us. We've heard again and again the Taliban are on the ropes; they're finished. They've got more volunteers. They've been gaining ground.

Right now we have a failed policy. A failed leadership, failed president. And in Vietnam, we want every engagement in the ground. In Afghanistan, we win every engagement in the ground. It doesn't matter. The people don't want our way of life.

O'REILLY: Yes, I think that's the bottom line on it. All right. I'm looking forward to reading your book on Gettysburg, Colonel Peters, because obviously it ties into "Killing Lincoln." So I appreciate that.

HUNT: Congratulations, Ralph.

O'REILLY: Right. We'll talk about it.

PETERS: Thank you, just out today.

O'REILLY: Gentlemen, thanks.

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