Assume the Position

Saturday, March 15, 2003
"Necrophiliacs licking the corpse of Josef Stalin." Some phrases just fit, and that description is one of them. The group it applies to should be obvious, but I was surprised by the the source.

Fredric Smoler had an interesting interview with Ralph Peters in the Feb/Mar issue of American Heritage.

Lt. Col., Ret., Ralph Peters is a military intellectual, and his career makes surprising reading. He enlisted in the Army as a private in 1976 and served in a mechanized infantry division. He was commissioned in 1980 as a second lieutenant in military intelligence and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel by 1998. Along the way he took a master's degree in international relations and published eight novels, typing out the first one while still a sergeant stationed in Germany. He also published a remarkable series of essays, many of which first appeared in Parameters, the theoretical journal of the U.S. Army War College. These essays are some of the most radical writing I have ever read on the recent revolution in military affairs. They began appearing at the start of the last decade, they are beautifully written and intellectually exciting, and they have proved startlingly (and sometimes grimly) prescient.

In 1999 Peters retired from the Army to write full-time, and soon produced, beginning with Faded Coat of Blue, a series of highly acclaimed Civil War novels under the pen name Owen Parry. I interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Peters in his house in northern Virginia, surrounded by Russian and German books—he is at least trilingual—and a wonderful collection of contemporary Russian paintings. We spoke about his essays, two volumes of which have been collected and published—Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World and Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph?—and about what history, both recent and ancient, tells us of the challenges and possibilities America faces around the globe.

The interview coverd quite a bit, and Peters' description of the US as an anti-imperial force ("The United States seems almost like an organic response to the problem of empire. If you look at our wars, even before we were a nation…[200+ years of empire wrecking]…By the [nineteen-]nineties we'd directly or indirectly been involved in the destruction of almost every European empire.") stood out. But beyond the history and anything dealing with the "revolution in military affairs," there was one paragraph that highlighted the evolution in Peters' views toward US intervention:
Ten years ago you were far more skeptical about U.S. military intervention in the developing world. Why the change of heart?
I was wrong, and I learned. The key experience was my peripheral—very peripheral—involvement in the first Balkan crisis, in 1992. Yugoslavia was initially a small cancer, but we let it metastasize. At the time, the American armed forces were shrinking. We had a very small military for our global responsibilities. The Europeans were bragging that they didn't need the United States any more; the Soviet Union was gone, and they could do it themselves. And I thought, great, let the French and the Germans and the Brits do the Balkans. They certainly have the manpower and the money. I still think Europe had the power to do it, but I deluded myself about its will. With the benefit of hindsight, I see that the only hope for avoiding the bloodbath was early and decisive U.S. involvement. I will always be ashamed that I took the Europeans at their word and that I raised my minor voice against the intervention in Yugoslavia back in 1992.
Now, with "old Europe's" current posturing on Iraq, Ralph Peters flays them in a harsh editorial in the New York Post [italics added].
The sorry truth is that Europeans love to cry over corpses, but won't lift a finger to prevent the killing in the first place. They shake their heads over the Holocaust, though their parents were happy enough to pack the local Jews off to Auschwitz.

The French grudgingly accept that their intellectuals defended Stalin long after evidence of his crimes came to light, but they avoid the issue of how many of their thinkers and artists admired Hitler and profited from the Occupation (French cafes and cabarets boomed under the Nazis).

Was there ever an African dictator the French didn't adore? The Dutch criticize America's military as trigger-happy, but their own troops didn't fire a shot in defense of the Muslims of Srebrenica, who they had been tasked to protect and whose slaughter was the worst single massacre on European soil since the end of the Second World War.

We Americans can expect neither gratitude, understanding nor support from the baroque regimes of France, Germany and their fellow travelers. Chancellor Schroeder? Bill Clinton without the moral fiber. President Chirac? The mouth of de Gaulle, the soul of Petain, and the morals of a pimp. Humanitarian Belgium? Yeah, just ask the Congolese. The European anti-war movement? Necrophiliacs licking the corpse of Josef Stalin.

As Cinderella Bloggerfeller wrote awhile ago, "For modern Marxists, all their heroes tend to be failures: Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Allende, Marighella, Tony Benn. It's the successes like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot they try to disown." It looks like Ralph Peters is among those who won't let them get away with it.

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.