SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Futurists & Theorists

Futurists & Theorists Future Competition & Conflict, Theory & Nature of Conflict, 4GW through 9?GW, Transformation, RMA, etc.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-30-2007   #1
SWJED
Small Wars Journal
 
SWJED's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Largo, Florida
Posts: 3,981
Default 12 Myths of 21st Century War

Ralph Peters in the November 2007 edition of American Legion Magazine - 12 Myths of 21st Century War. Visit the link for Peters' reasoning behind each myth.

Quote:
Myth No. 1: War doesn't change anything.
Myth No. 2: Victory is impossible today.
Myth No. 3: Insurgencies can never be defeated.
Myth No. 4: There's no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems.
Myth No. 5: When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.
Myth No. 6: Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.
Myth No. 7: If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we're no better than them.
Myth No. 8: The United States is more hated today than ever before.
Myth No. 9: Our invasion of Iraq created our terrorist problems.
Myth No. 10: If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own.
Myth No. 11: It's all Israel's fault. Or the popular Washington corollary: "The Saudis are our friends."
Myth No. 12: The Middle East's problems are all America's fault.
SWJED is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #2
SteveMetz
Council Member
 
SteveMetz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Carlisle, PA
Posts: 1,488
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
Ralph Peters in the November 2007 edition of American Legion Magazine - 12 Myths of 21st Century War. Visit the link for Peters' reasoning behind each myth.
I love Ralph to death and was with him last week, but that's kind of Limbaughism--throw out a bunch of positions that no one really holds and then beat the stuffing out of them.
SteveMetz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #3
Danny
Council Member
 
Danny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Posts: 141
Default Many People

Steve, with all due respect, I know many people who believe some, most or all of the things Ralph debunks.
Danny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #4
SteveMetz
Council Member
 
SteveMetz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Carlisle, PA
Posts: 1,488
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Steve, with all due respect, I know many people who believe some, most or all of the things Ralph debunks.
Well, I don't have any research to back it, but I'd bet my bippy that those positions are only held by a tiny minority of Americans.
SteveMetz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #5
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,653
Default

Ralph Peters turns this kind of article out in his sleep. Strawmen battled with assertion and invective.
tequila is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #6
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,146
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post
Steve, with all due respect, I know many people who believe some, most or all of the things Ralph debunks.
I hate to say it, but I have to agree with this. Now if it's something they really believe (and by that I mean deep within the core of their very beings) or if it's just something they've latched onto because it's what a talking head said on TV (or someone they respected told them) is another question entirely. #1 and #3 are the most common, from what I've seen.
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #7
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Steve, I agree with you IF

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Well, I don't have any research to back it, but I'd bet my bippy that those positions are only held by a tiny minority of Americans.
you add the words "who in some cases hold positions in the media, academia and politics and thus have some influence over what the rest of America may be inclined to think."

Ol' Ralph may be into hyperbole and invective but his basic positions are at least occasionally if not generally accurate and I've seen and heard everyone of those myths (to use his word); they are in various combinations the position of some and I've had arguments or discussions about most of them with a number of people That indicates to me they are not strawmen at all -- just uncomfortable for some.
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #8
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

I have to agree with Steve:

"If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we're no better than them."

That's not what people are saying. They're saying "Torture is wrong and it doesn't work anyway."

"War doesn't change anything."

I don't know anyone who thought Chamberlain was right and Churchill was wrong.

"If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own."

That's not what people are saying. They're saying. "Why should we spend $2 trillion in Iraq when we can't even secure our own borders?"

They're also saying there were no weapons of mass destruction, Iran is a bigger threat than Iraq, that we need more troops in Afghanistan and that troop deployments are too long and placing too large a burden on military families.
Rank amateur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #9
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Cool Depends on who you talk to and where, I suppose...

I've heard it both ways. I agree the majority of nay sayers are in the pot with you and Steve Metz -- but I also think my contention on who constitutes a part of that minority that corroborate Peters' myths is equally correct.

In any event, not much meat for a food fight, IMO...
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #10
Danny
Council Member
 
Danny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Posts: 141
Default The worth of a bippy ...

After spending a minute Googling the phrase "bet your sweet bippy ()" Steve, I have doubts that your or my bippy is worth enough to make the wager meaningful. We'll debate it over a beer if I ever meet you. At least beer is worth wagering.
Danny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2007   #11
walrus
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 66
Default

I shouldn't get sucked into this and waste my time, instead I should take the dog for a walk, but if I can convince one person to think about the absurdity of this type of article, then maybe its worth it.


Myth No. 1: War doesn't change anything.

Of course it does, but not in predictable ways beneficial to anyone engaged in it. Therefore war should be avoided.


Myth No. 2: Victory is impossible today.

Victory is a meaningless term. It's a nominative word that has many meanings, unless a precise definition of an endpoint is attached, as in the agreed rules of a football game where the largest score when the bell rings defines the victor.

Unless an endpoint is defined in Iraq, or elsewhere, then Yes, victory is impossible today because its not defined. How many tons of rose petals would you like thrown? How many legions of cheering waving Iraqi civilians? Please be specific.


Myth No. 3: Insurgencies can never be defeated.

Of course they can be defeated, but not necessarily by the American military, an organisation that is uniquely designed, equipped and trained NOT to be able to deal effectively with counterinsurgency.

Myth No. 4: There's no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems.

Experience of insurgency demonstrates that there is a political component of any solution (I won't call it victory) to insurgency. This requires dialogue and negotiation.


Myth No. 5: When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.

Fight back against who? With what? Where? How much? Kill more kids and radicalise their families? How is that going to advance our cause in an insurgency?



Myth No. 6: Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.

Yes it does turn them into martyrs in the minds of some muslims as any perusal of Islamic literature or the internet will show. The trick in Iraq is convincing them that they will not be Martyrs but instead are committing shameful acts, as Col. Kilcullen is doing.



Myth No. 7: If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we're no better than them.

So Al Ghraib, waterboarding, rendition and dropping 2000lb bombs on women and children is called "Fighting Fiercely"? I'd give it another name - dragging America's reputation through the mud.


Myth No. 8: The United States is more hated today than ever before.

No myth - read the Pew Global opinion surveys.


Myth No. 9: Our invasion of Iraq created our terrorist problems.

Yep, how do you reconcile this statement with the foreign Jihadist and Al Qaeeda in Iraq rhetoric?


Myth No. 10: If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own.

I think they just might, because the alternative if we leave will be civil war.


Myth No. 11: It's all Israel's fault. Or the popular Washington corollary: "The Saudis are our friends."

One has to ask "who benefits?" from our invasion of Iraq, and what were the primary sources of so much disastrously wrong policy? Israel is not part of the solution.


Myth No. 12: The Middle East's problems are all America's fault.

No it's not all America's fault, but we have contributed our fair share of them.

The "problem" started with the partition of the old Ottoman empire after WW1 and the creation of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and modern Turkey.

They were compounded by the Balfour declaration creating a home for the Jews.

They were further compounded by our medlling in the area since about 1950.

The current mess in Iraq, and soon to be in Iran are all our own work however, and we should take credit for that.

Now it's time to walk the dog.....
walrus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2007   #12
Mark O'Neill
Council Member
 
Mark O'Neill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 307
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
I love Ralph to death and was with him last week, but that's kind of Limbaughism--throw out a bunch of positions that no one really holds and then beat the stuffing out of them.
Nailed it correctly! He must have been feeling that it was time to up his 'Google' quotient.

Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 10-31-2007 at 10:54 AM. Reason: expansion
Mark O'Neill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2007   #13
Ski
Council Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 489
Default

This was obviously written for his target audiance - the American Legion.

Peter's scholarly work is quite good, it's pieces like this and most of his "work" in the New York Post that damage his credibility. I guess one has to feed the family, and writing in a style that guarantees conversation (or as Mark O'Neill cleverly states "Upping his Google quotient") is a good way to sell himself.

Which is sad, because I think his more scholarly work stands on its own merit.

C'est la guerre.
__________________
"Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
Ski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2007   #14
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default -adding to the list

13.) Wars are fought primarily by young, impoverished men who see a steady paycheck with education benefits and an enlistment bonus as a ticket out of desitution.
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-29-2008   #15
Kitsune
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3
Default

I would be hard pressed if I had to name one guy who I despise more than Ralph Peters. Admittedly, there are times when he sounds quite sane and some of the things he says make a certain amount of sense (like his attitude towards the Saudis).

But then. When he talks about Europe. It starts.
All of a sudden, a bottomless pit of prejudice opens up in Mr. Peters. "Europeans have perfected mass extermination", "Europe, this most cruel of continents", "Europe is not to be trusted and will always have to be watched", "'Eurabia' is only a myth, because once the Europeans get really pissed at the Muslims they will probably eradicate them in a second Holocaust", "I could even imagine that US forces will have to secure the Muslims exit from Europe" etc, etc. It is just incredible.

When you read one of his books, you get the impression that this is a man who perceives the world through a filter of incredibly strong prejudices and generalisations. America is best. Automatically, because it is American. Everything from Europe is automatically...not so good, because it is European. Actually, it is completely disgusting if it has to do with Germany (one of the two countries he hates most of all), or France (apparently the country which he does hate most of all) in particular. Those two nations are the enemy, and he leaves out no chance to heap his neverending scorn on them, wether in his factional or his fictional work.

This '12 Myths' article is one of his typical works. He presents some nonsensical statements just to blow them out of the water himself.
Stuff like "war doesn't change anything", "victory is impossible today", "there's no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems", and "when we fight back, we only provoke our enemies" - who in the world is saying such things?

The statement "the United States is more hated today than ever before" is presented so that he can state, once more, that the USA is the greatest nation, ever, and that essentially everyone in the world wants a greencard. And the notion that "the Middle East's problems are all America's fault" is brought up so that he can enlighten us about the real culprit - Evil Europe, this most cruel of continents, which apparently deliberately drew the borders of the Middle East with the aim to create the maximum amount of strife and bloodshed for all eternity. Out of sheer malice, of course.

Now, Ralph Peters is just one man and this warrants the question why it should be so important what this guy thinks. Actually, it is not. But unfortunately, he is not alone, because he and his views seem to be quite popular, especially in the US Armed Forces - and that is a problem, indeed.
It can only be hoped that his prejudiced way of thinking does not spread.
Kitsune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-29-2008   #16
Granite_State
Council Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Camp Pendleton, CA
Posts: 314
Default Jumping on the bandwagon

Quote:
Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Ralph Peters turns this kind of article out in his sleep. Strawmen battled with assertion and invective.
Yup, that sums it up pretty well. I met Peters once, and he was both very intelligent and gracious, but whenever I read his articles...so much vitriol, anything meaningful gets lost fast. He's the defense/foreign policy Ann Coulter, another person who's undoubtedly smarter than she seems and acts, and knows how to play to the crowd (of idiots) she caters to. Maybe I'll tackle one of his books when I have some time in a few months, but the shorter stuff sure doesn't provide much of an inducement to do so.

Last edited by Granite_State; 05-29-2008 at 11:48 PM.
Granite_State is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-30-2008   #17
patmc
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
Posts: 175
Default books

I first read a Peters book 5 or 6 years ago while a cadet at Fort Knox. Some of his stuff is dead on, some over the top. It can be hit or miss, but generally he has a unique perspective. Most of his books are collections of his essays or articles, so you may not enjoy them all that much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
Maybe I'll tackle one of his books when I have some time in a few months, but the shorter stuff sure doesn't provide much of an inducement to do so.
patmc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-30-2008   #18
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 3,106
Default

I tend to agree with myths #8 and #10. These points need to be carefully interpreted, though. Many people draw wrong conclusions.

The other myths seem to be deliberately made up to discredit those who hold similar but not identical positions by manipulating those positions into something that's wrong.

#6, #8 and #10-12 are not really about warfare, but about politics and societies.

I remember Peters as someone who does occasionally throw some interesting point into the public discussion (albeit not often something I'd agree to).
I also remember him advocating some quite barbaric and xenophobic ideas.
He's certainly no-one I'd recommend for negotiating/mediating in a complex conflict.
Fuchs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2008   #19
Rifleman
Council Member
 
Rifleman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 499
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
Now if it's something they really believe (and by that I mean deep within the core of their very beings) or if it's just something they've latched onto because it's what a talking head said on TV (or someone they respected told them) is another question entirely.
You mean a conviction as opposed to an opinion?
__________________
"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper
Rifleman is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7. ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation