Lt. Col. Ralph Peters Reacts to Bush and Blair's Comments About Iraq

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, as we told you moments ago, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair wrapped up a press conference primarily about Iraq. No surprise, the gentlemen believe the tide is turning in favor of democracy.

Joining us from Washington is a no-spin guy who knows a lot about the military aspect of Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, the author of the book, "New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy".

As I mentioned, Bill Plante had the most penetrating question, you know, why do you believe a new government is going to operate more efficiently against the insurgency. And it seemed to me that both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were basing a lot of their answer on hope. How did you read it?

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS, AUTHOR, "NEW GLORY": Well, I read it a little bit differently, Bill.

First of all, we didn't hear anything new, and to me, that was very good. Because what I did not want to hear were politically motivated announcements of troop withdrawals. What I saw as a former officer was steadfastness.

And I'll tell you. In military operations, especially of this kind, fighting insurgencies, steadfastness, fortitude, tenaciousness, that's far more important than momentary flashes of brilliance.

So, you know, if you looked at those guys and if you can flash to a picture of them four years ago — certainly Blair is jetlagged — but they both look tired. They both seem chastened, but nonetheless steadfast. I keep coming back that to word. And, you know, I hate the cliché, "stay the course," but that's what this is about.

O'REILLY: Oh, it is. It's not a cliché. I mean, it's a strategy. It's not a cliché. It's a strategy. I mean, you have to — look, you have to wear these people down.

Now, the last time we had you on the program, you had just returned from Iraq, and you had obviously toured a lot of hotspots in the country. And you said on this program that the coalition forces, combined with the new Iraqi army, are wearing down the insurgency, but a lot of people don't believe that.

PETERS: Well, I think we are certainly paying for mistakes we made early on: not enough troops, no plan for an occupation. That's history now.

But the president and Prime Minister Blair were absolutely right, Bill, and you were right in your earlier comments, that pulling out now, walking away from the surgery in the middle of the operation, guarantees failure and it guarantees a huge win for terrorism.

And we are making progress. It's harder than people thought. It's tough. You know, not enough troops gave the terrorists time to build. But the Iraqi army is coming online. Police still have a long way to go. They do have a government now.

Every single hurdle that many in the media said they couldn't overcome, they've overcome. And while I would never paint the situation in Iraq as rosy, I'll tell you two things: I would bet my life, as our troops are betting their lives, that we are making progress, that it is worthwhile.

And, second, I want to explode one myth that I know your listeners have been hearing from other sources over the years, that insurgencies always win. Bill, that's not true. Historically, insurgencies lose overwhelmingly, as long as the counterinsurgency fight, the leaders of our struggle, the Blairs and Bushes, don't give up.

O'REILLY: Now, the last point, which I thought was the best point of the press conference, was Blair saying to the world: Look, you don't know and you don't understand what's at stake here.

And I think that's true, particularly in the United States of America, where the media is relentlessly against the Iraq war, and I believe some in the media are rooting for their own country to lose the war.

PETERS: Sad to say, I think that's true. And often it's just unconscious.

But we've degenerated to a point where it's really — it's not about Iraq anymore. It's about "Get Bush" or, in England, about "Get Blair." The stakes are high. And I could wish for anything from our media it would be balanced reporting, because the media is telling some of the truth, the bad news. They're giving our people three or four pieces of a very complex jigsaw puzzle and asking them to describe the whole picture. I just want to hear balanced reporting. And, Bill, I don't hear it.

O'REILLY: No, and you're not going to hear it, because the media has too much tied into, "This is a fiasco." They can't admit that it might not be a fiasco, it might be worth fighting for.

Ten seconds, I'll give you the last word, Colonel.

PETERS: The last word is: God bless our soldiers. Good luck to the new Iraqi government. And never quit. Never quit, Bill.

O'REILLY: Thanks very much, as always. We appreciate it.

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