Fox military analyst undercuts Hannity's, Krauthammer's attacks on Obama over Afghanistan

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In recent days, Fox News' Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer have criticized President Obama for not immediately following the advice of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's reported request for additional combat troops in Afghanistan, with Hannity stating, "Just listen to what the generals on the ground want to be successful." But Fox News strategic analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret.) contradicted this criticism, arguing that a larger force "will not make a difference" and that "a smaller, compact, lethal force is the way to go."

Hannity, Krauthammer criticize Obama for not increasing military presence in Afghanistan

Hannity: "Just listen to what the generals on the ground want to be successful." Discussing the reported request of McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, for additional military forces in that country, Hannity stated, "But isn't it simple? Just listen to what the generals on the ground want to be successful. I mean, it's not for President Obama sitting in the comfort of the Oval Office." [Hannity, 9/22/09]

Krauthammer: "Who are you going to believe, a commander on the ground or Biden?" Krauthammer said of the request, "What's happening here is we have on the one hand advice from our commander on the ground who wants more troops and who sees a strategy which is the only strategy he thinks will work. On the other hand, advice of the vice president, the sage of Wilmington, the man who proposed splitting Iraq into three, who wants a minimalist strategy of attacks by drones and kind of half -- hands-off warfare." Krauthammer subsequently asked, "Who are you going to believe, a commander on the ground or Biden?" [Special Report, 9/23/09]

Fox News strategic analyst contradicts claim that larger force is the answer

Peters: "If he sends them, it will not make a difference." During a discussion of Afghanistan Bill O'Reilly stated that "Obama's going to send those troops," and asked Fox News strategic analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, "[I]f you send them, is it going to make a difference?" Peters responded, "If he sends them, it will not make a difference. We cannot turn Afghanistan into Disney World. And this is killing American troops for nothing. We need to get back to the basic reason we went to Afghanistan in 2001: to kill our enemies and kill those who support our enemies. I absolutely agree with Colonel Hunt, who's a great experienced soldier, that a smaller, compact, lethal force is the way to go. Kill the bad guys."

Transcripts

From the September 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

FORMER SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA): It is not just Afghanistan. It is also Pakistan. And, if we don't succeed or we don't -- success I would define as a stable country.

HANNITY: Sure.

ALLEN: It's not going to be a Jeffersonian democracy but a stable country that is not a haven for terrorists who want to kill as many Americans as possible, as well as destabilize Pakistan. And if you destabilize Pakistan, it also could have an impact on India.

So this is much bigger than the tactics of whether or not the government takes over health insurance.

JUDITH MILLER (Fox News contributor): But even conservatives have raised questions about whether or not this is a mission impossible, no matter how many troops you send in there. I mean, I think they have to do some pretty cold, hard calculations about what it is exactly we wish to accomplish and how much blood and sweat we're willing to expend on it.

HANNITY: But isn't it simple? Just listen to what the generals on the ground want to be successful. I mean, it's not for President Obama sitting in the comfort of the Oval Office.

DOUG SCHOEN (Democratic strategist): We've set a strategy in place. It's a clear strategy. We have to act upon it. Even people like Les Gelb, the former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, who's actually against the war in Afghanistan, says if we pull out now, it will cause irreparable harm to the U.S.

From the September 23 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the Obama administration announcing that it's trying to change its strategy because it has just discovered corruption in Afghanistan is almost comical. Everybody has known. It's been around all along. It's not a new fact.

Look, what's happening here is we have on the one hand advice from our commander on the ground who wants more troops and who sees a strategy which is the only strategy he thinks will work.

On the other hand, advice of the vice president, the sage of Wilmington, the man who proposed splitting Iraq into three, who wants a minimalist strategy of attacks by drones and kind of half -- hands-off warfare.

Well, it's exactly the minimalist strategy that got us into the dire circumstance we now have in Afghanistan. It's the minimalist strategy that the Democrats attacked and demagogued year after year and said it was inadequate, and it's the minimalist strategy that McCaskill [sic], who is the world's expert on the kind of hands-off drone attack, which he did in Iraq, has said has zero chance of succeeding in Afghanistan.

Who are you going to believe, a commander on the ground or Biden?

From the September 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY (host): Let's go to Afghanistan, Colonel Hunt. You and I were over there a couple years ago. And we got a pretty good report from the NATO commander saying things were OK. Now they're not OK. Why are -- what happened in the two years that we were there? What happened? Why are things not OK now?

HUNT: One, first of all, you -- they did not give us the straight story, as you remember.

O'REILLY: So [Gen. Dan] McNeil lied to us? McNeil, the NATO commander lied to us?

HUNT: I don't -- I know Dan personally. He's not a liar. I don't think he's very competent. Didn't think so at the time. And I commanded with the guy.

I -- they believe that they -- all we've done for seven years is throw military at this. As Ralph knows, in a counterinsurgency, there's got to be so many other things, teachers building some kind of -- unfortunately nation building is as important as Marines and Army guys. We have not been willing to do that. And we're still not. And if we're not going to be willing to do the nation-building counterinsurgency stuff, stop what we're doing, leave an Army division there, some Special Ops guys and chase bad guys any where they are in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

O'REILLY: All right, do you see the -- more troops going in there, Colonel Peters, number one? I think Obama's going to send those troops. He's pretty much in a box. He almost has to. OK? And number, two, if you send them, is it going to make a difference?

PETERS: If he sends them, it will not make a difference. We cannot turn Afghanistan into Disney World. And this is killing American troops for nothing. We need to get back to the basic reason we went to Afghanistan in 2001: to kill our enemies and kill those who support our enemies. I absolutely agree with Colonel Hunt, who's a great experienced soldier, that a smaller, compact, lethal force is the way to go. Kill the bad guys.

O'REILLY: All right, and then you hire Afghan ruffians, like the Northern Alliance.

PETERS: Sure.

O'REILLY: You hire them to do the dirty work. So it's a merc war: Afghan against Afghan. And then you leave American Special Forces there to make sure things don't get out of control. You both concur with that?

HUNT: Yeah.

PETERS: More than just Special Forces.

HUNT: An Army or Marine division -- an Army or Marine division to back them up and Special Forces, but you don't just stay in Afghanistan. You go anywhere they are into Pakistan.

PETERS: Yeah.

HUNT: And that's been the mistake -- unwillingness to do this.

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