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Never Quit the Fight, by Ralph Peters

Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2006. Pp. 350. . $27.95. ISBN:0-8117-3328-9.

Never Quit the Fight is a collection of columns by Ralph Peters, a retired intelligence officer. Peters has written twenty books prior to this one, sixteen of them novels. This book, though, is non-fiction, and carries many of his columns from 2003 to 2005, from publications as varied as the New York Post and Armed Forces Journal Despite the varied venues, Peters gives an unflinching description of the world as he sees it. This is a book in which Peters pulls no punches. But his targets are not only those he describes as “barbarians with microchips”, a “toxic media”, or an “insecure political class”. Peters also levels his fire at the Right, which has been willing to fight, for often trying to impose its morality on the rest of the country.

The book is in three parts. Part I focuses on what Peters’ feels are the shortcomings of the United States military, particularly aiming his fire at the United States Navy and United States Air Force. In Parts II and III Peters provides an excellent portrayal of the situation from 2003-2005 around the world, everywhere from India to Pakistan. This makes the book valuable in and of itself. Peters has done a superb job in those two parts.

That said, Peters does jump to a conclusion – that the United States is at war, but not willing to admit so. This is true of some people, the bulk of whom are on the left, but the right has its share, particularly among paleo-conservatives like Pat Buchanan, who wish to pretend that America has no stake in what is going on. But Peters overextends this premise to include the rest of the United States. This is the same sort of overextension H.R. McMaster made in Dereliction of Duty – in that a selected area of study was later used to draw conclusions beyond the scope of the data. This has compromised Part I to a large extent.

In this case, there is no real doubt that the United States is at war, and that the current Administration has taken the threats seriously. A look at the programs leaked to the New York Times can show that the efforts to monitor and track terrorist communications and financing to break up their attacks is in full swing. Similarly, the public statements of Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (a favorite Peters target) also indicate that he is aware that the war on terror is a new type of war. Peters’ criticism of the Air Force is also off-base, largely due to the fact that the present war is not the only type of threat faced. The F-22 might seem expensive now, but imagine how expensive it would be if America were to need it and not have it. Also, the wholesale opting-out of the war (or any seriousness about national security) by the left in this country from about 1972 onwards is not the fault of the President or any member of his administration. Instead, that opting-out and the present state of the mainstream media (which gives the Left a platform) are realities that must be dealt with for at least the short and medium term – with a view towards long-term changes. The Bush Administration had to go to war with the country it had, not the country Peters wishes we had.

Despite this blind spot that compromised Part I to an extent, Peters’ book is valuable and a must-read – primarily due to the no-holds-barred portrayal of the world as it is in Parts II and III. The more that people read this book, the better off the country will be.

Reviewer: Harold C. Hutchison    

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