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Ralph Peters
Born April 19, 1952(1952-04-19) (age 70)
Pottsville, Pennsylvania, US
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Welsh and German
Citizenship United States
Education St. Mary's University, Texas,[1] Master of Arts (international relations), 1988
Alma mater Pennsylvania State University
Occupation Retired U.S. Army officer
Military analyst, writer
Home town Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Janice (nee Stickler) Peters (divorced)
Marion Ann Martin (divorced)
Katherine McIntire (June 4, 1994 – present)
Parents Ralph Heinrich Peters
Alice Catherine (née Parfitt) Peters

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.).

Military career

Peters enlisted in the Army in 1976, after attending Pennsylvania State University.[2]

Peters' first assignment was in Germany. After returning from Germany, he attended Officer Candidate School and received a commission in 1980.[3][4] Subsequently, he served with 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, then part of the 1st Armored Division.[5]

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.

Writing career

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.[citation needed]

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"[6][7] 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."

Iraq war

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."[8] 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 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."[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[12] 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."[13]

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."[14]

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."[15]

Redrawing borders and regime change

File:Ralph Peters solution to Mideast.jpg

Before and after maps from "Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look", Armed Forces Journal, June 2006.

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."[16] 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."[16]

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."[17]


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."[18]

Bowe Bergdahl

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.[19] 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).[20]

Donald Rumsfeld

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."[21]


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.[22]


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.[23]





 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. Ralph Peters (2010). Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World. Stackpole Books. pp. 246. ISBN 978-0-8117-0689-6. 
  2. "Soldier writer speaker: Ralph Peters brings to the National Convention a wealth of on-the-ground experience and incisive opinions.". The Officer. July 1, 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "After graduating from Penn State University, he enlisted, at age 23, as a private with two flat feet, curved spine, and intermittent asthma." 
  3. "In Depth with Ralph Peters 280144-1". C-SPAN Video Library. August 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  4. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Document Number: H1000113025 Retrieved 2008-08-04. Revised 2006-08-31. Fee.
  5. "1st Battalion, 46th Infantry". Lineage and Honors Information. United States Army Center of Military History. January 12, 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  6. Parameters Summer 1997 pages 4–14, publisher United States Army War College "Constant Conflict". Retrieved 2008-08-04. ""The next century will indeed be American, but it will also be troubled. We will find ourselves in constant conflict, much of it violent."" [dead link]
  8. "Dude, Where's My Civil War?". March 22, 2006. 
  9. Never Quit the Fight (interview with Ralph Peters), Jamie Glazov,, August 2, 2006
  10. "Last Gasps in Iraq". USA Today. November 2, 2006. Archived from the original on November 2, 2006. [dead link]
  11. "New Iraq Risks: What the Election Means". November 9, 2006. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. [dead link]
  12. NO MORE TROOPS, Ralph Peters, New York Post, October 10, 2006
  13. THE 'QUIT IRAQ' CAUCUS: RECIPE FOR MASSACRE, Ralph Peters, New York Post, July 11, 2007
  14. THE SURGE AT ONE, Ralph Peters, New York Post, January 11, 2008
  15. IRAQ'S LATEST GROWING PAINS, Ralph Peters, New York Post, July 24, 2009
  16. 16.0 16.1 BROKEN BORDERS: UNLEARNED LESSONS IN KOSOVO, Ralph Peters, New York Post, February 19, 2008
  17. Armchair General Magazine vol V, #2
  18. "The mendacity of hope", Ralph Peters, USA Today, February 24, 2009
  19. David Edwards and Daniel Tencer (July 20, 2009). "Fox analyst: Taliban should kill US soldier if he deserted". Raw Story. Retrieved 2009-08-21. [dead link]
  20. The Enterprise: Rep. Massa was right – POW deserves our support. July 30, 2009.
  21. Baxter, Sarah; York, New (February 2, 2011). "Neocons join the lynch mob for 'arrogant' Rumsfeld". Times Online. London. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  22. "Peters on Julian Assange: "We Need To Kill The Guy!"". December 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  23. W Y Boyd Literary Award

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