Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sleep Of Reason*

I'M VERY DISHEARTENED, but not all that shocked, that retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters' call for the U.S. military to abandon a captured soldier in Afghanistan didn't get more traction in the mainstream press. Then again, this past week was virtually subsumed by yet another racial Rorschach test, Gates-gate -- the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge police for disorderly conduct. All news seemed to pale in comparison to President Obama calling the actions of the arresting white officer "stupid," and it was obvious the story wasn't going away any time soon -- at least until a round or two of beer diplomacy at the White House by everyone involved set for Thursday afternoon. And we can all drink to that.

In case you hadn't heard and/or weren't paying enough attention, according to, on July 2:
"An American soldier (Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl) is believed being held by the Taliban after he walked off his base in eastern Afghanistan without his body armor and weapon, officials said Thursday. Initial reports indicated that the soldier was off duty at the time he went missing, having just completed a shift."
This is where five-star wingnut Peters comes in. He made an appearance on Fox News on July 19, right after the Taliban released video of a shaken Bergdahl in captivity. Channeling his inner Cheney, Peters cautioned that we shouldn't be making a hero of this soldier, who after all is engaged in anti-American propaganda:
"We must wait until all the facts are in to make a judgment, but … he is an apparent deserter. Reports are indeed that he had abandoned his buddies, abandoned his post and walked off.”

“I want to be clear. If when the facts are in we find out it’s through some convoluted chain of events he really was captured by the Taliban, I’m with him. But if he walked away from his post and his buddies in wartime — I don’t care how hard it sounds — as far as I’m concerned the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills."
Peters' odious diatribes are usually confined to the fairly unbalanced op-ed pages of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. But back in May, he outraged decent people everywhere in a different forum: asserting in the "Journal of International Security Affairs" that, in the future, "godless" journalists criticizing the glorious war effort just may have to be sacrificed on the altar of a Pax Americana Uber Alles:
"The phenomenon of Western and world journalists championing the "rights" and causes of blood-drenched butchers who, given the opportunity, would torture and slaughter them, disproves the notion--were any additional proof required--that human beings are rational creatures. Indeed, the passionate belief of so much of the intelligentsia that our civilization is evil and only the savage is noble looks rather like an anemic version of the self-delusions of the terrorists themselves. And, of course, there is a penalty for the intellectual's dismissal of religion: humans need to believe in something greater than themselves, even if they have a degree from Harvard. Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.

Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow's conventional wisdom.

The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters."
Call me overly sensitive, but I detect a subtle anti-liberal bias buried in there somewhere. In a nutshell, and where else would you find a crackpot like Ralph Peters, this is the standard neocon credo: the future consists of eternal, endless war against whatever bogeyman we're demonizing at the moment, and if you get in the way of the War Machine, you too will be demonized and ultimately destroyed. Because according to Peters, "Our failures nourish monsters." This guy's hateful, overheated rhetoric fits right in alongside Joe Goebbels and Joe McCarthy.

Not surprisingly, Peters has seen as much actual live combat as I have: zip, zilch, nada... He was forced to admit as much a few days later on an appearance with fellow chickenhawk Bill O'Reilly, who seemed crestfallen at the news that Peters too was a war virgin. Peters then regained his footing, calling the captured soldier "mentally disturbed," and O'Reilly quickly chimed in that the guy "must be crazy." Ironically, the only people who fit those labels more than Bill O'Reilly and Ralph Peters usually wear straitjackets to the dinner table.

El sueno de la razon produce monstruos
(The sleep of reason produces monsters)
Francisco de Goya


justin said...

Really liked how you wrapped that up with Goya. The article for some reason reminded me of a Crass lyric, "the Generals sip Bacardi while the privates feel the pain" from a song that had nothing to do with this story.

The Warden said...

I know that Crass song, one of their best: you had it posted on Mustard Relics a few months ago. Also thought of Black Sabbath's War Pigs: "In the fields the bodies burning, As the war machine keeps turning..."

Serge A. Storms said...

Didn't news shows have screeners at one time that would prevent jackasses like this guy from getting his words of idiocy on the air? What happened to that?

The Warden said...

But Peters isn't a caller, but a so=called expert on military affairs. He's a welcome guest on Fox.