Monday, May 25, 2009

THE GENERAL'S MODEST PROPOSAL. Like a star athlete of insanity, 5-to-the-infinite-power-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters keeps making us raise the bar. His latest essay at the Journal of International Security Affairs, to which we were tipped by Brad Reed (goddamn him), begins with several propositions which are bold but unexceptionable -- for instance, that the all-volunteer army has put added distance and tension between the military and civilian worlds. But even in his warm-up phase, the General shows an inclination to go off-track and head straight for the brain-baking desert. For instance:
Fifth, 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.
Okay; we've grown litigious. Maybe we don't take bloody noses as stoically as we used to. Still, does the General really mean that in "daily life" we shouldn't presume a right to be safe in our persons? But the General has already sprinted far ahead:
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.
Apparently he sees no difference between the social order of Main Street and that of Mogadishu. If you don't accept daily life as a slugfest, you're going to wind up playing patty-cake with terrorists.

But this is only the General's ordinary madness, which divides the whole world into wimps and warriors. Our terrorist enemies are warriors, and the General respects them, but the pussies from the State Department down to ANSWER don't have what it takes to get inside their enemies' heads. They can't comprehend their homicidal religious mania, for instance, because they don't share it themselves, which the General finds a fault: "Even officials and bureaucrats who attend a church or synagogue each week no longer comprehend the life-shaking power of revelation, the transformative ecstasy of glimpsing the divine, or the exonerating communalism of living faith." If you're not incited to kill for your God, how are you going to handle enemies who are?

For the General, it's not a matter of simple preparedness, reacting coldly to present threats, and the reason why not becomes clear in the course of his essay: everyone is a threat -- not just the Islamists (who must be wiped out), but also the Chinese, with whom "we could find ourselves tumbling, a la 1914, into a conflict." And we must also consider the "unexpected rise of a dormant power." How do you war-game that? You don't; you just get pumped, ready to kill or be killed at a moment's notice.

And as is his wont, the General wants America to sharpen its talons on a homegrown menace:
Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, but one which we not only refrain from attacking but are hesitant to annoy: the media.
Though this is an old theme for the General, I've never seen him get quite this worked up about it. Maybe he had a vision, or heard the final trump. In any case the traitorous media are now more than wimps to him: "Rejecting the god of their fathers," he roars, "the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar." He invokes Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Book of Joshua. The rest of us nervous nellies may not be getting pumped, but the General sure as hell is! And here's his big idea:
Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.
This will be an easy kill, as journalists tend to be unarmed; it will give raw recruit much needed practice; and it will show the world that we mean business. Best of all, it will finally get Michael Yon in Newsweek.

The Pentagon had better call him up fast; if they hesitate he may, like Coriolanus, grow disgusted with us and take his winning ideas to our enemies. Though I think his ideas will not be new to them.

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