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Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Ralph Peters’ Wars of Blood and Faith – Book Review

By Jerry D. Morelock

cover.jpgBook Review: Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century.
Ralph Peters, Stackpole Books, 367 pages, $27.95, Release date: July 25, 2007.
ISBN: 978-0-8117-0274-4

There is a wonderful turn-of-phrase in the superb Cohen brothers’ 1990 film, Miller’s Crossing, that perfectly describes what passes for “news and commentary” in today’s mainstream media. When confronted for uttering some ill-considered criticism of his gangster bosses, the film’s corrupt police chief tries to wriggle out by claiming he was merely “speculatin’ on a hypothesis.” Remember that apt phrase the next time you watch a news report about the war in Iraq or when you’re trying to make sense out of the “can’t we all just get along” blathering emanating from some “do nothing” academic “expert” commentator. Despite the sometimes super-heated rhetoric, most reporting on today’s War on Terrorism seems little more than “speculatin’ on a hypothesis.” Thankfully, there is a cure available for what ails the mainstream media’s shoddy, head-in-the-sand coverage of the War on Terrorism — and it’s as close as your nearest bookstore (or only a ‘click’ away on amazon.com): Ralph Peters’ outstanding new ”must-read” book, Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century (Stackpole, 2007).

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Peters, today’s most insightful, clear-headed strategic thinker, has some bad news you desperately need to hear – there are people in the world that want to kill you; and they will stop at nothing to achieve that bloody goal, willing to kill you even at the cost of their own lives. Forget about the comforting feeling of false security provided by the U. S. military’s near-monopoly on high-tech, precision guided munitions that destroy targets from vast distances. Today’s fanatical, religion-fueled suicide bombers with a few pounds of explosives strapped to their bodies are proving to be the ultimate “smart bombs” – and their human arsenal seems endless. Far from presenting more “speculatin’ on a hypothesis,” Peters’ Wars of Blood and Faith lays out the cold, hard reality that Americans must face in today’s dangerous new world, where faith-based terror has replaced two hundred years of ideology-driven conflict. Islamo-fascist terrorists – driven by faith and propelled by the blood ties of tribe — could care less about your political views; they just want you dead.

Wars of Blood and Faith contains 78 carefully-selected, hard-hitting articles the author published in 2006-2007 in the New York Post, Armed Forces Journal, USA Today, Washington Monthly, The Weekly Standard, Military Review, RealClearPolitics.com, and Armchair General magazine. Individually, as originally published, each essay provided plenty of food for thought – now, read as a book in this superb collection by publisher Stackpole, it’s a real feast!

Peters’ revelatory introductory essay, alone, is well worth the price of the book. He shatters the mythology so dear to the hearts of America’s “ruling elite” that “all men want peace, with its corollary fantasies of bloodless war and a lawyer’s faith in negotiations.” These through-the-looking-glass assumptions belong to the now-past Age of Ideology, a two hundred year “aberrant period in history … a time of unaccountable mass delusion, when human beings convinced themselves that individuals could reason out a better architecture for human societies than human collectives could arrive at organically.” Peters perceptively reveals that “we have returned to the historical mainstream, abandoning conflicts over artificial systems of social organizations in favor of strife provoked by those ineradicable causes, religion and ethnicity … the bleeding over political systems is largely finished; we have returned to the historical norm of wars of blood and belief.” The age of wars over “isms” (fascism, nationalism, Communism, Nazism, etc.) is over – it’s tribe versus tribe in a war to the death. The enemy’s preferred strategy is no longer one of winning hearts and minds; that’s been replaced by one calling for a knife to the heart and a bullet to the brain. Our leaders’ failure to comprehend that represents little more than national suicide.

Yet, don’t assume that the sole value of Wars of Blood and Faith lies only in its sorely-needed wake-up call that we must realize our survival depends upon – quite literally — killing our enemies before they kill us. Peters’ prescient, timely and carefully-crafted articles cover the world, explaining in the author’s trademark crystal-clear, Hemingway-esque style the myriad of critical security issues that confront America and the West around the globe. Although many of the book’s essays address the Iraq War’s military and political issues (including its domestic and international fall-out), Peters razor-sharp analysis looks beyond the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan to encompass such far-flung places as China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Somalia, and Darfur. With continuing worldwide experience in 70 countries, Peters is no stay-at-home “studio pundit” – the book includes first-hand reporting from the front lines in Iraq and Israel’s war with Hezbollah. Ralph Peters knows what he’s talking about. More important, he’s not afraid to “go public” by sharing that unequaled experience with the reading public in his perceptive essays. As a result, Wars of Blood and Faith is a cogent, desperately-needed wake up call to Peters’ fellow citizens. Since, as the author notes, our “ruling elite” leaders in Washington seem “afraid to think — because many of the answers are terrifying,” he’s taking his case directly to those who elect them. “The goal of the many essays and columns in this book,” Peters explains, “is to provoke the complacent, to challenge the (deadly) traditional wisdom, and to encourage Americans to think for themselves.” One fervently hopes they will. Clearly, reading Wars of Blood and Faith is a great way to give those complacent brains a much-needed “jump-start.” Buy it. Read it. Share it.

As the rhetoric for the 2008 elections heats up – during which we’ll certainly get more than our fill of candidates “speculatin’ on a hypothesis” – take a welcome break and read this book! Reading Ralph Peters’ Wars of Blood and Faith is the best preparation possible for casting an informed ballot on Election Day in November 2008. And as the candidates’ campaign workers smother you and other potential voters with requests for contributions, consider a “gift in kind” – send a copy of Wars of Blood and Faith to the parties’ national committees. It might be the best investment you’ll ever make.

About the Author

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of twenty-two books under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is an opinion columnist for the New York Post, a member of the board of contributors at USA Today, a contributing editor at Armed Forces Journal, and a member of the advisory board for Armchair General magazine. A frequent guest on television and radio, Ralph Peters continues to work in support of our military and to travel to the world’s trouble spots to investigate the reality behind the headlines.

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