Sunday, June 14, 2009

Best Ralph Peters Article Ever

Peter's has some hits & misses, but "Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars," published in the Spring issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs is one of the best analyses that I've seen in a long time -- by anyone. If you are at all interested in national security policy, foreign policy and warfare, you should read the whole thing. There are so many highlights that it is difficult to choose between them, but here are a few.
As our enemies’ view of what is permissible in war expands apocalyptically, our self-limiting definitions of allowable targets and acceptable casualties—hostile, civilian and our own—continue to narrow fatefully. Our enemies cannot defeat us in direct confrontations, but we appear determined to defeat ourselves.
Often when you hear someone say that the U.S. can't do something, what they actually mean is that we are not willing to do it.
an unholy alliance between the defense industry and academic theorists seduced decisionmakers with a false-messiah catechism of bloodless war.
As Peters points out, most people are historically ignorant, especially about warfare. They no longer understand that wars tend to be bloody debacles with hideous casualty levels.
we have become largely a white-collar, suburban society in which a child’s bloody nose is no longer a routine part of growing up, but grounds for a lawsuit; the privileged among us have lost the sense of grit in daily life. We grow up believing that safety from harm is a right that others are bound to respect as we do. Our rising generation of political leaders assumes that, if anyone wishes to do us harm, it must be the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved by that lethal narcotic of the chattering classes, dialogue.
It's hard to say it any better than that.
One of the many disheartening results of our willful ignorance has been well-intentioned, inane claims to the effect that “war doesn’t change anything” and that “war isn’t the answer,” that we all need to “give peace a chance.”
Unfortunately sometimes war is the only answer. And anyone with a minimal knowledge of history knows that wars can & do change things, often quite dramatically.
our expectations of war’s results have become absurd. Even the best wars do not yield perfect aftermaths.
Look at all the idiots, some of whom should know better, who refer to the Iraq War as a "disaster." They have no concept of what constitutes a disaster in military terms. Even some who should know better allow their political views to take precedence over their understanding of history and foreign policy.
history is no longer taught as a serious subject in America’s schools. As a result, politicians lack perspective; journalists lack meaningful touchstones; and the average person’s sense of warfare has been redefined by media entertainments in which misery, if introduced, is brief.

This point can't be overemphasized. Large numbers of people commenting on our wars are ignorant of history in general, and of military history in particular. They have no frame of reference on which to base any analysis.

This is a long article and I could keep excerpting it. But read it for yourself.

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