Skip to comments.The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs
Posted on 02/05/2006 7:16:31 PM PST by ExSoldier
February 6, 2006
The Counterrevolution In Military Affairs
Fashionable thinking about defense ignores the great threats of our time.
By Ralph Peters
Revolutions notoriously imprison their most committed supporters. Intellectually, influential elements within our military are locked inside the cells of the Revolution in Military Affairs--the doctrinal cult of the past decade that preaches that technological leaps will transcend millennia-old realities of warfare. Our current conflicts have freed the Pentagon from at least some of the nonsensical theories of techno-war, but too many of our military and civilian leaders remain captivated by the notion that machines can replace human beings on the battlefield. Chained to their 20th-century successes, they cannot face the new reality: Wars of flesh, faith, and cities. Meanwhile, our enemies, immediate and potential, appear to grasp the contours of future war far better than we do.
From Iraq's Sunni Triangle to China's military high command, the counterrevolution in military affairs is well underway. We are seduced by what we can do; our enemies focus on what they must do. We have fallen so deeply in love with the means we have devised for waging conceptual wars that we are blind to their marginal relevance in actual wars. Terrorists, for one lethal example, do not fear "network-centric warfare" because they have already mastered it for a tiny fraction of one cent on the dollar, achieving greater relative effects with the Internet, cell phones, and cheap airline tickets than all of our military technologies have delivered. Our prime weapon in our struggles with terrorists, insurgents, and warriors of every patchwork sort remains the soldier or Marine; yet, confronted with reality's bloody evidence, we simply pretend that other, future, hypothetical wars will justify the systems we adore--purchased at the expense of the assets we need.
Stubbornly, we continue to fantasize that a wondrous enemy will appear who will fight us on our own terms, as a masked knight might have materialized at a stately tournament in a novel by Sir Walter Scott. Yet, not even China--the threat beloved of major defense contractors and their advocates--would play by our rules if folly ignited war. Against terrorists, we have found technology alone incompetent to master men of soaring will--our own flesh and blood provide the only effective counter. At the other extreme, a war with China, which our war gamers blithely assume would be brief, would reveal the quantitative incompetence of our forces. An assault on a continent-spanning power would swiftly drain our stocks of precision weapons, ready pilots, and aircraft. Quality, no matter how great, is not a reliable substitute for a robust force in being and deep reserves that can be mobilized rapidly.
There is, in short, not a single enemy in existence or on the horizon willing to play the victim to the military we continue to build. Faced with men of iron belief wielding bombs built in sheds and basements, our revolution in military affairs appears more an indulgence than an investment. In the end, our enemies will not outfight us. We'll muster the will to do what must be done--after paying a needlessly high price in the lives of our troops and damage to our domestic infrastructure. We will not be beaten, but we may be shamed and embarrassed on a needlessly long road to victory.
Not a single item in our trillion-dollar arsenal can compare with the genius of the suicide bomber--the breakthrough weapon of our time. Our intelligence systems cannot locate him, our arsenal cannot deter him, and, all too often, our soldiers cannot stop him before it is too late. A man of invincible conviction--call it delusion, if you will--armed with explosives stolen or purchased for a handful of soiled bills can have a strategic impact that staggers governments. Abetted by the global media, the suicide bomber is the wonder weapon of the age.
The suicide bomber's willingness to discard civilization's cherished rules for warfare gives him enormous strength. In the Cain-and-Abel conflicts of the 21st century, ruthlessness trumps technology. We refuse to comprehend the suicide bomber's soul--even though today's wars are contests of souls, and belief is our enemy's ultimate order of battle. We write off the suicide bomber as a criminal, a wanton butcher, a terrorist. Yet, within his spiritual universe, he's more heroic than the American soldier who throws himself atop a grenade to spare his comrades: He isn't merely protecting other men, but defending his god. The suicide bomber can justify any level of carnage because he's doing his god's will. We agonize over a prisoner's slapped face, while our enemies are lauded as heroes for killing innocent masses (even of fellow believers). We continue to narrow our view of warfare's acceptable parameters even as our enemies amplify the concept of total war.
Islamist terrorists, to cite the immediate example, would do anything to win. Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers. It is astonishing that we have managed to hold the line as well as we have.
The ultimate precision weapon, the suicide bomber simultaneously redefines the scope of "legitimate" targets. Delighted to kill our troops, this implacable enemy who regards death as a promotion is equally ready to slaughter men, women, and children of unknown identity who have done him no harm. His force of will towers over our own. He cannot win wars on the traditional battlefields we cherish, but his commitment and actions transcend such tidy limits. In the moment of his deed, the suicide bomber is truly larger than life. The world's a stage, and every suicide bomber is, at least briefly, a star.
We will develop the means to defeat the majority of, if not all, improvised explosive devices. But the suicide bomber--the living, thinking assassin determined to die--may prove impossible to stop. Even if we discover a means to identify him at a distance from our troops, he has only to turn to easier targets. Virtually anything the suicide bomber attacks brings value to his cause--destruction of any variety is a victory. The paradox is that his act of self-destruction is also an undeniable assertion that "I am," as he becomes the voice from below that the mighty cannot ignore. We are trained to think in terms of cause and effect--but the suicide bomber merges the two. The gesture and the result are inseparable from and integral to his message. Self-destruction and murder join to become the ultimate act of self-assertion.
And his deed is heralded, while even our most virtuous acts are condemned around the world. Even in the days before mass media, assassins terrorized civilizations. Today, their deeds are amplified by a toxic, breathtakingly irresponsible communications culture that spans the globe. Photogenic violence is no longer a local affair--if a terrorist gives the media picturesque devastation, he reaches the entire planet. We cannot measure the psychological magnification, although we grasp it vaguely. And the media's liturgical repetition of the suicide bomber's act creates an atmosphere of sacrament. On a primal level, the suicide bomber impresses even his enemies with his conviction. We hasten to dismiss his deed as a perversion, yet it resounds as a vivid act of faith. Within his own cultural context, people may hate what the suicide bomber does, yet revere his sacrifice (and, too often, they do not hate what he does).
We may refuse to accept it, but suicide bombing operates powerfully on practical, emotional, and spiritual levels--and it generates dirt-cheap propaganda. To the Muslim world, the suicide bomber's act is a proof of faith that ensnares the mind with a suspicion of his righteousness. He is a nearly irresistible champion of the powerless, the Middle East's longed-for superhero, the next best thing to the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam.
We praise Nathan Hale's willingness to die for his cause. Now imagine thousands of men anxious to die for theirs. The suicide bomber may be savage, brutal, callous, heartless, naive, psychotic, and, to us, despicable, but within his milieu he is also heroic.
The hallmark of our age is the failure of belief systems and a subsequent flight back to primitive fundamentalism--and the phenomenon isn't limited to the Middle East. Faith revived is running roughshod over science and civilization. Secular societies appear increasingly fragmented, if not fragile. The angry gods are back. And they will not be defeated with cruise missiles or computer codes.
A paradox of our time is that the overwhelmingly secular global media--a collection of natural-born religion-haters--have become the crucial accomplices of the suicide bomber fueled by rabid faith. Mass murderers are lionized as freedom fighters, while our own troops are attacked by the press they protect for the least waywardness or error. One begins to wonder if the bomber's suicidal impulse isn't matched by a deep death wish affecting the West's cultural froth. (What if Darwin was right conceptually, but failed to grasp that homo sapiens' most powerful evolutionary strategy is faith?) Both the suicide bomber and the "world intellectual" with his reflexive hatred of America exist in emotional realms that our rational models of analysis cannot explain. The modern age's methods for interpreting humanity are played out.
We live in a new age of superstition and bloodthirsty gods, of collective madness. Its icons are the suicide bomber, the veil, and the video camera.
One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason. We suffer under layers of intellectual asymmetries that hinder us from an intuitive recognition of our enemies. Our rear-guard rationalists range from those convinced that every security problem has a technological solution, if only it can be found, to those who insist that members of al Qaeda and its affiliates are motivated by finite, comprehensible, and logical ambitions that, if satisfied, would make our problems disappear.
Living in unprecedented safety within our borders and lacking firsthand knowledge of the decay beyond, honorable men and women have convinced themselves that Osama bin Laden's professed goals of driving the United States from the Middle East and removing corrupt regional governments are what global terror is all about. They gloss over his ambition of reestablishing the caliphate and his calls for the destruction of Israel as rhetorical effects--when they address them at all. Yet, Islamist fanatics are more deeply committed to their maximalist goals than to their lesser ones--and their unspoken ambitions soar beyond logic's realm. Religious terrorists are committed to an apocalypse they sense within striking distance. Their longing for union with god is inseparable from their impulse toward annihilation. They seek their god in carnage, and will go on slaughtering until he appears to pat them on the back.
A dangerous asymmetry exists in the type of minds working the problem of Islamist terrorism in our government and society. On average, the "experts" to whom we are conditioned to listen have a secular mentality (even if they go to church or synagogue from habit). And it is a very rare secular mind that can comprehend religious passion--it's like asking a blind man to describe the colors of fire. One suspects that our own fiercest believers are best equipped to penetrate the mentality--the souls--of our Islamist enemies, although those believers may not be as articulate as the secular intellectuals who anxiously dismiss all possibilities that lie outside their theoretical constructs.
Those who feel no vital faith cannot comprehend faith's power. A man or woman who has never been intoxicated by belief will default to mirror-imaging when asked to describe terror's roots. He who has never experienced a soul-shaking glimpse of the divine inevitably explains religion-driven suicide bombers in terms of a lack of economic opportunity or social humiliation. But the enemies we face are burning with belief, on fire with their vision of an immanent, angry god. Our intelligentsia is less equipped to understand such men than our satellites are to find them.
All of our technologies and comforting theories are confounded by the strength of the soul ablaze with faith. Our struggle with Islamist terror (other religious terrors may haunt our descendants) has almost nothing to do with our actions in the Middle East. It's about a failing civilization's embrace of a furious god.
We are not (yet) at war with Islam, but the extreme believers within Islam are convinced that they are soldiers in a religious war against us. Despite their rhetoric, they are the crusaders. Even our conceptions of the struggle are asymmetrical. Despite the horrors we have witnessed, we have yet to take religious terrorists seriously on their own self-evident terms. We invaded a succession of their tormented countries, but haven't come close to penetrating their souls. The hermetic universe of the Islamist terrorist is immune to our reality (if not to our bullets), but our intellectuals appear equally incapable of accepting the religious extremist's reality.
We have no tools of persuasion effective against a millenarian belief. What logic can we wield against the soul fortified by faith and barricaded beyond argument? Even if we understood every nuance of our enemy's culture, the suicide bomber's intense faith and the terror chieftain's visions have burned through native cultural restraints. We are told, rather smugly, that the Koran forbids suicide. But our enemies are not concerned with how we read their faith. Religions are living things, and ultra-extremists are improvising a new and savage cult within Islam--even as they proclaim their return to a purified faith.
Security-wise, we have placed our faith in things, in bright (and expensive) material objects. But the counterrevolution in military affairs is based on the brilliant intuition that our military can be sidestepped often enough to challenge its potency. Certainly, we inflict casualties on our enemies--and gain real advantages from doing so--but we not only face an enemy who, as observed above, views death as a promotion, but also one who believes he has won even when he loses. If the suicide bomber completes his mission, he has won. But even if he is killed or dies short of his target, he has conquered a place in paradise. Which well-intentioned information operation of ours can compete with the conviction that a martyr's death leads to eternal joy?
Again, our intelligentsia falls woefully short. The most secularized element of our society--educated to avoid faith (or, at the very least, to shun enthusiastic, vigorous, proud, and public faith)--our professional thinkers have lost any sense of a literal paradise beyond the grave. But our enemies enjoy a faith as vivid as did our ancestors, for whom devils lurked in the undergrowth and paradise was an idealized representation of that which mortals knew. We are taught that we should never underestimate our enemies--yet, we underestimate the power of his faith, his most potent weapon.
Nor should we assume that Islamist extremists will remain the only god-haunted terrorists attacking established orders. This century may prove to be one of multi-sided struggles over the interpretation of god's will, between believers and unbelievers, between the varieties of the faithful, between monotheists and polytheists, between master faiths and secessionist movements, between the hollow worshippers of science and those swollen with the ecstasy of belief.
Naturally, we view the cardinal struggle as between the West and extremists within the Islamic world; yet, the bloodiest religious warfare of the coming decades may be between Sunni and Shia Muslims, or between African Muslims and the new, sub-Saharan Church Militant. Hindu extremists gnaw inward from the epidermis of Indian society, while even Buddhist monks have engaged in organized violence in favor of their ostensibly peaceable faith. In a bewildering world where every traditional society is under assault from the forces of global change, only religion seems to provide a reliable refuge. And each god seems increasingly a jealous god.
Faith is the great strategic factor that unbelieving faculties and bureaucracies ignore. It may be the crucial issue of this century. And we cannot even speak about it honestly. Give me a warrior drunk with faith, and I will show you a weapon beyond the dreams of any laboratory. Our guided bombs may kill individual terrorists, but the terrorist knows that our weapons can't kill his god.
Even in preparing for "big wars," we refuse to take the enemy into account. Increasingly, our military is designed for breathtaking sprints, yet a war with China--were one forced upon us by events--would be a miserable, long march. For all the rhetoric expended and the innumerable wargames played, the best metaphor for a serious struggle with Beijing--perhaps of Homeric length--comes from that inexhaustible little book, Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, with its pathetic image of a Western gunboat lobbing shells uselessly into a continent.
Given the comprehensive commitment and devastation required to defeat strategically and structurally weaker enemies such as Japan and Germany, how dare we pretend that we could drive China to sue for peace by fighting a well-mannered war with a small military whose shallow stocks of ammunition would be drained swiftly and could not be replaced in meaningful quantities? Would we try Shock and Awe, Part II, over Beijing, hoping to convince China's leaders to surrender at the sight of our special effects? Or would our quantitative incompetence soon force us onto the defensive?
We must be realistic about the military requirements of a war with China, but we also need to grasp that, for such an enemy, the military sphere would be only one field of warfare--and not the decisive one. What would it take to create an atmosphere of defeat in a sprawling nation of over one billion people? A ruthless economic blockade, on the seas, in the air, and on land, would be an essential component of any serious war plan, but the Chinese capability for sheer endurance might surprise us. Could we win against China without inflicting extensive devastation on Chinese cities? Would even that be enough? Without mirror-imaging again, can we identify any incentive China's leaders would have to surrender?
The Chinese version of the counterrevolution in military affairs puts less stress on a head-to-head military confrontation (although that matters, of course) and more on defeating the nation behind our military. Despite the importance Beijing attaches to a strong military, China won't fall into the trap that snared the Soviets--the attempt to compete with our military expenditures. Why fight battles you'll lose, when you can wage war directly against the American population by attacking its digital and physical infrastructure, its confidence and morale? In a war of mutual suffering, which population would be better equipped, practically and psychologically, to endure massive power outages, food-chain disruptions, the obliteration of databases, and even epidemic disease?
Plenty of Americans are tougher than we're credited with being, but what about the now-decisive intelligentsia? What about those conditioned to levels of comfort unimaginable to the generation that fought World War II (or even Vietnam)? Would 21st-century suburban Americans accept rationing without protests? Whenever I encounter Chinese abroad I am astonished by their chauvinism. Their confidence is reminiscent of Americans' a half century ago. Should we pretend that Chinese opinion-makers, such as they are, would feel inclined to attack their government as our journalists attack Washington? A war with China would be a massive contest of wills, and China might need to break the will of only a tiny fraction of our population. It only takes a few hundred men and women in Washington to decide that a war is lost.
As for our military technologies, how, exactly, would an F/A-22 destroy the Chinese will to endure and prevail? How would it counteract a hostile media? If we should worry about any strategic differences with China, they are the greater simplicity and robustness of China's less developed (hence, less fragile) infrastructure, and a greater will to win in Beijing. No matter how well our military might perform, sufficient pain inflicted on the American people could lead a weak national leadership to a capitulation thinly disguised as a compromise. Addicted to trade with China, many in America's business community would push for a rapid end to any conflict, no matter the cost to our nation as a whole. (When Chinese fighters forced down a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft on Hainan Island several years ago, American-business lobbyists rushed to Capitol Hill to plead for patience with China--they had no interest in our aircrew or our national good.)
The Chinese know they cannot defeat our military. So they intend to circumvent it, as surely as Islamist terrorists seek to do, if in more complex ways. For example, China's navy cannot guarantee its merchant vessels access to sea lanes in the Indian Ocean--routes that carry the oil on which modern China runs. So Beijing is working to build a web of formal and informal client relationships in the region that would deny the U.S. Navy port facilities, challenge the United States in global and regional forums, and secure alternate routes and sources of supply. China's next great strategic initiative is going to be an attempt to woo India, the region's key power, away from a closer relationship with the United States. Beijing may fail, but its strategists are thinking in terms of the out-years, while our horizon barely reaches from one Quadrennial Defense Review to the next.
Even in Latin America, China labors to develop capabilities to frustrate American purposes, weaken hemispheric ties, and divert our strategic resources during a Sino-American crisis. We dream of knock-out blows, while Beijing prepares the death of a thousand cuts. The Chinese are the ultimate heirs of B.H. Liddell Hart and his indirect approach: They would have difficulty conquering Taiwan militarily, but believe they could push us into an asymmetrical defeat through economic, diplomatic, and media campaigns in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America--while crippling the lifestyle of America's citizens.
It's become another cliché to observe how much of our manufacturing capability has moved to China while we tolerate, at our own business community's behest, Beijing's cynical undervaluation of its currency. If you don't think this matters, try to go a single week without buying or using a product made in China. A conflict with Beijing might be lost on the empty shelves of Wal-Mart. Indeed, Beijing's most effective international allies are American corporations. In the Second World War we famously converted our consumer industries into producers of wartime materiel. Will a future president find himself trapped by our defense industry's inability to produce consumer goods in wartime?
A war with China would be a total war, waged in spheres where our military is legally forbidden to engage, from data banks to shopping malls. How many readers of this magazine have participated in a wargame that addressed crippling consumer shortages as a conflict with China dragged on for years? Instead, we obsess about the fate of a pair of aircraft carriers. For that matter, how about a scenario that realistically portrayed the global media as siding overwhelmingly with China? The metastasizing power of the media is a true strategic revolution of our time--one to which our narrow revolution in military affairs has no reply.
Oh, by the way: Could we win a war with China without killing hundreds of millions of Chinese?
Many of us have struggled to grasp the unreasonable, even fanatical anti-Americanism in the global media--including the hostility in many news outlets and entertainment forums here at home. How can educated men and women, whether they speak Arabic, Spanish, French, or English, condemn America's every move, while glossing over the abuses of dictators and the savagery of terrorists? Why is America blamed even when American involvement is minimal or even nonexistent? How has the most beneficial great power in history been transformed by the international media into a villain of relentless malevolence?
There's a straightforward answer: In their secular way, the world's media elites are as unable to accept the reality confronting them as are Islamist fundamentalists. They hate the world in which they are forced to live, and America has shaped that world.
It isn't that the American-wrought world is so very bad for the global intelligentsia: The freedom they exploit to condemn the United States has been won, preserved, and expanded by American sacrifices and America's example. The problem is that they wanted a different world, the utopia promised by socialist and Marxist theorists, an impossible heaven on earth that captured their imagination as surely as visions of paradise enrapture suicide bombers.
The global media may skew secular, but that doesn't protect them against alternative forms of faith. Europeans, for example, have discarded a belief in God as beneath their sophistication--yet they still need a Satan to explain their own failures, just as their ancestors required devils to explain why the milk soured or the herd sickened. Today, America has replaced the horned, cloven-footed Lucifer of Europe's past; behind their smug assumption of superiority, contemporary Europeans are as superstitious and irrational as any of their ancestors: They simply believe in other demons.
One of the most perverse aspects of anti-Americanism in the global media and among the international intelligentsia is that it's presented as a progressive, liberal movement, when it's bitterly reactionary, a spiteful, elitist revolt against the empowerment of the common man and woman (the core ethos of the United States). Despite their outward differences, intellectuals are the logical allies of Islamist extremists--who are equally opposed to social progress and mass freedom. Of course, the terrorists have the comfort of religious faith, while the global intelligentsia, faced with the death of Marxism and the triumph of capitalism, has only its rage.
Human beings are hard-wired for faith. Deprived of a god, they seek an alternative creed. For a time, nationalism, socialism, Marxism, and a number of other-isms appeared to have a chance of working--as long as secular intellectuals rejected the evidence of Stalin's crimes or Mao's savagery (much as they overlook the brutalities of Islamist terrorists today). The intellectuals who staff the global media experienced the American-made destruction of their secular belief systems, slowly during the Cold War, then jarringly from 1989 to 1991. The experience has been as disorienting and infuriating to them as if we had proved to Muslim fanatics that their god does not exist.
America's triumph shames the Middle East and Europe alike, and has long dented the pride of Latin America. But the brotherhood of Islamist terrorists and the tribe of global intellectuals who dominate the media are the two groups who feel the most fury toward America. The terrorists dream of a paradise beyond the grave; intellectuals fantasized about utopias on earth. Neither can stomach the practical success of the American way of life, with its insistence on individual performance and its resistance to unearned privilege. For the Islamists, America's power threatens the promises of their faith. For world-intellectuals, America is the murderer of their most precious fantasies.
Is it any wonder that these two superficially different groups have drifted into collusion?
The suicide bomber may be the weapon of genius of our time, but the crucial new strategic factor is the rise of a global information culture that pretends to reflect reality, but in fact creates it. Iraq is only the most flagrant example of the disconnect between empirical reality and the redesigned, politically inflected alternative reality delivered by the media. This phenomenon matters far more than the profiteers of the revolution in military affairs can accept--the global information sphere is now a decisive battleground. Image and idea are as powerful as the finest military technologies.
We have reached the point (as evidenced by the first battle of Falluja) where the global media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield. We will not be defeated by suicide bombers in Iraq, but a chance remains that the international media may defeat us. Engaged with enemies to our front, we try to ignore the enemies at our back--enemies at whom we cannot return fire. Indeed, if anything must be profoundly reevaluated, it's our handling of the media in wartime. We have no obligation to open our accounts to proven enemies, yet we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by platitudes.
This doesn't mean that all of the media are evil or dishonest. It means we need to have the common sense and courage to discriminate between media outlets that attempt to report fairly (and don't compromise wartime secrets) and those whose track records demonstrate their hostility to our national purposes or their outright support for terrorists.
We got it right in World War II, but today we cannot count on patriotism among journalists, let alone their acceptance of censorship boards. Our own reporters pretend to be "citizens of the world" with "higher loyalties," and many view patriotism as decidedly down-market. Obsessed with defending their privileges, they refuse to accept that they also have responsibilities as citizens. But after journalistic irresponsibility kills a sufficient number of Americans, reality will force us to question the media's claim that "the public has a right to know" every secret our government holds in wartime.
The media may constitute the decisive element in the global counterrevolution in military affairs, and the video camera--that insatiable accomplice of the terrorist--the cheap negation of our military technology. (And beware the growing capability of digital technology to create American "atrocities" from scratch.) We are proud of our ability to put steel precisely on target anywhere in the world, but guided bombs don't work against faith or an unchallenged flood of lies. We have fallen in love with wind-up dolls and forgotten the preeminence of the soul.
We need to break the mental chains that bind us to a technology-über-alles dream of warfare--a fantasy as absurd and dated as the Marxist dreams of Europe's intellectuals. Certainly, military technologies have their place and can provide our troops with useful tools. But technologies are not paramount. In warfare, flesh and blood are still the supreme currency. And strength of will remains the ultimate weapon. Welcome to the counterrevolution.
Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer, is the author of 21 books, including New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy and the forthcoming Never Quit the Fight.
you have a link for this?
Well, SHUCKS. Delete mine then. Spent a LOT of time in the formatting, though. Shoot.
This is a thought-provoking article, and I'm glad that you reposted it. Every Freeper should read it, and think seriously about what is being said here.
We fight too kindly. Destroy the enemy and his will to fight is what this is all about, and we pretend it is some sort of gentlemenly duel.
There is, in short, not a single enemy in existence or on the horizon willing to play the victim to the military we continue to build.
That is, in itself, a victory. It means we DETERED a war of that nature.
Not a single item in our trillion-dollar arsenal can compare with the genius of the suicide bomber--the breakthrough weapon of our time. Our intelligence systems cannot locate him, our arsenal cannot deter him, and, all too often, our soldiers cannot stop him before it is too late.
Horsepucky. Suicide bombers continue to attack civilians in Iraq, but few of our soldiers are being killed by suicide bombers. Name a strategic goal accomplished by the suicide bombers. US out of Iraq? End of Israel? WE're winning the fight against suicide bombers.
One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason.
True - but few people pay much attention to "our intellectuals and intelligence professionals" - they have a pee-poor track record.
Increasingly, our military is designed for breathtaking sprints, yet a war with China--were one forced upon us by events--would be a miserable, long march. For all the rhetoric expended and the innumerable wargames played, the best metaphor for a serious struggle with Beijing--perhaps of Homeric length--comes from that inexhaustible little book, Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, with its pathetic image of a Western gunboat lobbing shells uselessly into a continent.
Dude, a war with China doesn't mean an invasion of China. That would mean nukes, and most folks understand we cannot win in any meaningful sense such a war. Peters is raising a strawman.
The media may constitute the decisive element in the global counterrevolution in military affairs, and the video camera--that insatiable accomplice of the terrorist--the cheap negation of our military technology.
Peters is a media darling, but most folks trust the media about as much as they trust used car salesmen. Those cameras didn't count for squat against the US military in 2003, did they?
Peters is simply anti-F22. I can sympathize with that, but Peters has no rational alternative.
This is ridiculous -- I stopped reading early in this article. The "invincible conviction" rhetoric is silly. And furthermore the sentence is just wrong.
No suicide bomber can "stagger" our government, while our armor (along with innumerable other stragegies) have kept our casualties in this war exceedingly low.
You wonder whether they really take themselves seriously or whether the publisher just wanted more than the usual number of pages of the usual paranoid drivel. This is entertainment for some people out there.
Tell that to John O'Neill who retired from the FBI after 10 years of both hunting Osama and trying to warn everybody who'd even bend him an ear about the threat to our country from Osama. He was forced out of the Bureau and took a cushy job for $300,000 a year as chief of security for the World Trade Center. This was August 2001. On September 11th, he died along with the others.Those 19 Hijackers were suicide bombers. I'd say they not only staggered the government they staggered our economy pretty hard after the government grounded all commercial air for a week. What about a suicide bomber that walks down to the middle of WallStreet with a nuke in a duffle bag? Think that'd stagger the country?
The general militia of flight 93 were struggling with their enemies in the cockpit. A voice was heard in the background, right before the staggering end to the battle screaming ALLAHU AKBAR!! (God is Great). In fact nearly every Jihadist screams the same thing as they give their lives to enter paradise by killing infidels. I think that qualifies as "invincible conviction" in a pretty concrete manner.
Regime change in Spain and Spain out of Iraq.
My wife's dad was also a marine in WWII. He flew with the Blacksheep Squadron and he holds the Navy Cross and two Silver Stars among others. He says the same thing. In fact he was so grateful for the A-Bomb that after he left the marines at the rank of Colonel, he went on to get a Ph.d in Nuclear Physics and run a nuclear power plant until his retirement about 12 years ago. I frankly think we as a country lack the guts to use nukes against anyone for any reason. Carter and Clinton were so gutless, they took our only real trump card out of our deck when they dismantled the Neutron Bombs we had, at least so says pop.
Your comment raises a number of points that would take awhile to respond to. Let me just say that I think the author's phrase about the "invincible conviction" of the moronic Muslim bomber is way too florid and maudlin -- it gives the murderer a lot more moral and tactical credit than he deserves. The author is on weak ground, so he strains too hard to make his points.
Okay, being a published author myself, I can see your angle here. Florid and maudlin? Well, maybe. However, I don't think that syntax and verbiage are a cover for a weak argument in this case. YOU may not agree with the discourse or the conclusions reached, but that doesn't make them weak anymore than your mere assertion makes you right.
Still, this entire monument to criticism of what we are currently doing vs. what the always-dissatisified would- be generals want is all too recognizable.
As one responder aptly put: "This is entertainment for some people out there"...indeed it is.
No suicide bomber can "stagger" our government....
If you've travelled to Israel before 1994 and then after the 2nd intifada, you understand how random suicide bombings have changed the workings of an entire society.
Yours is an even stronger example.
Ralph Peters, you make me laugh for your lack of research and lack of intelligence.
Self ping to read and think about
This guy is a retired army officer and being a former army captain myself, I'll bet the army got him a master's degree in international relations. That's a safe bet since he's authored 21 books along the same vein. I'll just bet those publishers kept going along with the expense of printing and promoting because they just knew his lack of research wouldn't make them any money! With that in mind....lack of intelligence? Well, it takes one to know one, I guess....
To quibble, those weren't suicide bombers, just bombers. Spain had serious potential for regime change regardless - the effect had less to do with the bombings than with the government's response to the bombings.
The strategic goal was to weaken international support for US ops in Iraq - and they were already pretty weak.
More to the point, Peters argues the suicide bombers are so effective that a modern military cannot cope with them, and therefor a modern military does not need modern military equipment. Fortunately, I believe his views will be about as strategically effective as the suicide bombers - convincing only those who are already convinced.
Peters argues the suicide bombers are so effective that a modern military cannot cope with them, and therefor a modern military does not need modern military equipment.
I don't think Peters is saying any such thing. He makes an astute point that our military senior leadership wants the next sexy weapons system to fight their classic war and that scenario is growing ever more remote....well unless you throw China into the mix and even then it won't be tanks and infantry. Believe me, speaking as a former Armor Officer, that hurt to write!
It is the age of asymmetrical warfare. The most effective force in dealing with this form of terrorist (I refuse to give them the dignity of calling them insurgents) is the SpecOps community. Unfortunately, there aren't very many of them....partly owing to the push for sexy new weapons systems (and the fact that the military establishment HATES special forces). Also, the type of individual who will sacrifice to join and train is a rare breed. So we need to use them more effectively. We also need to get our heads out of our fourth point of contact and admit that what the enemies true objectives are and understand that dealing with those objectives will require some unpleasant self examination.
#1 We have to stop facilitating our own victimization! We have to close our borders and make hiring an illegal worker a worse pain than hiring a wage earner that you have to actually pay the minimum wage!
#2 We have to get free from oil addiction...especially to middle eastern and south American sources. That means either alternative energy or we drill off the coast of Florida/Louisiana/Texas AND up in Alaska and we drill it like a $10 Hooker!!
#3 We have to reach the inescapable conclusion that countries that sponsor terrorists are not our friends and must be handled accordingly. This will be easier if we're not kissing their collective A$$ in buying their oil!
What does this mean to our military? Maintain the heavy divisions but push the SpecOps recruitment and force structure. Put the covert agencies hand in hand with SpecOps and go back to the days of undercover "wet work" against our enemy. I suspect we're already doing this.
I do not make predictions like this. Any assumption that we will win does damage to our war morale on the homefront. It leads squishies to say things like "we'll win without descending to their level." There is no guarantee that we will win.
We have the ability to win, but now we must win the hearts and minds of the American People. It will take another major attack to mobilize the public in a dramatic way.
I think we are winning. As the leftists become more marginalized the shackles may slowly come off the military and DHS. Unfortunately, when the left becomes more marginalized they themselves will become more violent.
It's going to be a bloody balls-up before it's all over. I don't see any way around it.
Suicide bombers have been around forever, notably in WWII. The reason the enemy is inscrutable is because the diabolical leftists have shackled the intel agencies. We need the new technology, but there is a danger in becoming too fond of it. Peter's point is well taken but he spends way too many pages making that point.
Just for your thoughts, it's occurred to me that if we would have lost 1,000,000 the Japanese would have lost at LEAST 2,000,000. So our Nukes saved millions of Jap lives as well as our own. Not that I care that much about them, but it's good ammunition when the leftists start chirping about what b@st@rds we were in dropping the bombs.
p.s. I DO care about our great Allies the Japanese, but in the context of the time their casualties would have been irrelevant.
I agree with your points as what our country needs to do. Most are not military actions.
You military recommendations are what the QDR is pushing - more spec ops and less emphasis on major war. I don't mind that - and I'm not a huge fan of the F-22. I wish we had cancelled it 15 years ago.
However, we didn't, and now we need some number to continue to deter major combat for the next 30-40 years. We also need to be prepared for proxy fights such as we had with the USSR for many years.
I'm glad we're putting more emphasis on special ops, and wish we would put more emphasis on sustaining legacy aircraft such as the F-16, 15, etc. The USAF will sell its soul for a couple of hubcabs for the F-22. The F-22 is PART of a future viable military, but it cannot do it all. Peters would be right if he argued that, but he wants to cancel programs such as F-22 and...and...hire suicide bombers? Sneak people into the media?
What many people forget is that we don't know our future threat - not 10+ years out. That is what we acquire aircraft, etc for, and it makes it very tough to do it right. We need a mixed capability military.
I've read a number of articles by Peters, which makes it hard for me to be objective about him. In this one, he damn near does a Monica on the suicide bombers. Yes, they impress eastern intellectuals, democrats and spaniards. They MAY intimidate some south seas islands - but they will NOT stop the US from our strategic goals.
At least, not until Kerry, Gore or Co get in office...
Yes, you make a good point.
Since you had such a positive reaction to this article, I went back to take another look, to see if my negative feelings were too hasty.
Upon further review, I'll stand by my negative opinion. I realize I won't change your mind, and that's fine.
To give one example, suicide bombers are not "ultimate precision weapon." With the exception of the 9/11 attack (which was a surprise, one-time event that no other terrorists have been able to duplicate), their military threat to our troops is very small. They aren't "the breakthrough weapon of our time," and they can't "stagger governments."
I mean, just look at his writing about modern suicide bombers, and think about how an author could have written the same thing (and had a much stronger case) about Japanese kamakazi pilots in the 1940's. Now they were a substantial military threat, though not enough of a threat to change the outcome of the war. In contrast, our suicide bomber today doesn't present 1% as much danger.
The author may have a few good points buried in this piece -- like the part about how the media fuels terrorism, and the way that moderate and liberal Americans shirk from the dirty work of fighting terrorists. But for me, his good points are obscured by the weak points of this piece. That's just my $0.02.
Uhhhh nope. I teach world and American History. The Kamikaze threat emerged very late in the war as a last gasp from a dying regime. The Japanese were short on pilots for these missions and many were horrifyingly young. Well they didn't have to worry about landing, right? Sound familiar? Many of the later aircraft used by the Divine Wind were rigged to explode their payloads should the aircraft attempt to land, before completing it's mission. No chickens allowed! The Japanese Empire was on the way down and out. In contrast, Islam is rapidly expanding and growing and drawing new converts daily. The numbers of Jap suicide pilots dwindled very quickly. The numbers of Jihadis seem to grow. They've been at it a heckuva lot longer than WWII lasted. As another poster mentioned, take a look at pre and post intifada Israel and tell me that a government wasn't impacted and a way of life altered. Think it can't happen here? Wait.
But thanks for accepting that I won't change my mind on this. We shall agree to disagree....agreeably.
I think you and I probably agree on far more than what we disagree with, but it's the disagreements that can be fun! Thanks for your thoughtful and articulate comments.
Thanks much great read!
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