Ralph Peters is an angry man, apparently plagued with what might be called a Napoleonic complex, no offense to the old Corsican. Like most neoconservatives, he has been strutting and fretting upon the stage of mainstream media for some time. But in a strange discontinuity with Shakespeare’s poetry, we find that the tales told by this idiot do, in fact, signify something.
Ralph is a retired Army intelligence officer, and the author of a long series of books and articles. His novels are formulaic adventures, his non-fiction at times interesting and thought-provoking. Peters has assessed the state of the American empire accurately in some ways, although he seems to be childishly in love with it, on the side of the great US-centric, Amero-dominant world planners, Friedmanite flat-earthers, neoconservative American globalists and adherents of Thomas P.M. Barnett’s phantasmagoric Pentagon "new map." To hear how these folks perceive goodness and structure in the world, listen to Barnett last year celebrating Clinton’s Balkan adventurism as wonderful and successful because it created new US dependent states who "are now contributing more NATO troops to Afghanistan than the rest of NATO combined." Barnett calls this "exporting security."
Ralph and his fellow believers should not be too upset. While reality has bitten and bitten hard, the neoconservative-imperial-dominance fantasy has found both empowerment and audience in the bureaucratic and political constructs that feed parasitically on the wealth of nations and peoples, particularly those in democratic socialist empires like ours.
What infuriates Ralph Peters is that something has gone out of state control. On a human scale, that "something" is 23-year-old Army Private Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl walked away and got captured by the Taliban, and was later filmed drinking tea and looking rested, in what the Pentagon immediately termed a "propaganda" video. They should know.
Regarding the strange case of Private Bergdahl, Peters expresses venom usually reserved for only the extremely sputtering and stupid on FoxNews. Even the FOX newsreader, who had just expressed sincere pride that FOX News Corp refused to harm American Foreign Policy by airing the Taliban video of Bergdahl (available everywhere on the internet, of course!) was taken aback by Peter’s bloodlust.
Not for the Taliban — no, Peters and the rest of the American war machinery in the Middle East want the Taliban. They need the Taliban and they need it big, bad, and brutal. This is "The Enemy" and it helps keep the homefront from falling off the war wagon, something the American public is increasingly doing in an age where a hundred seeds of newthink on the righteousness of the federal warfare/welfare state have found fertile ground.
Peters’ bloodlust is based on his inside track idea that Private Bergdahl, in an act of unspeakable and awesome defiance, deserted the Afghanistan campaign. That perhaps Bergdahl had become sympathetic to the Afghans we have been destroying. Perhaps he got fed up with what he was being told to do. Perhaps he discovered he wasn’t cut out to be a merc, or maybe he was captured (as Taliban media suggested, the drunken private stumbled out of his garrison) because military order had broken down. Whatever it was, for Peters to become enraged over soldier "disloyalty" indicates extreme fear. Is Bergdahl representative of other Army trends in Afghanistan like torture prisons and mass murder of civilians that we ought to know about?
On a systems level, Peter’s anger may reflect his concern — along the lines of the early Pentagon screaming about Taliban propaganda — that in fact, the Taliban are coming off looking like everything we want to be in Afghanistan. Competent, high tech, well meaning, honoring their basic religious values, and taking care of the weak and unfortunate, even if one of them is a temporary enemy.
I can see why Peters and the team might be worried.
Lastly, on a strategic level, Peter’s anger may not be real at all. His FoxNews interview suggesting that the cost-saving features of Private Bergdahl’s death while in Taliban custody could have been designed, just as DIA leakage to old hand Ralphie of the whole "Bergdahl the Defeatist Defector" storyline, to prepare the media for sympathetic reporting of just one more American death to come, in another ill-fated drone strike or special forces raid with good intentions that left no witnesses. Peters suggested further that such a raid should occur inside Pakistan, to serve both as warning to American troops who might be considering Bowe’ing out, and to Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis, among others that no Middle Eastern country has territorial sovereignty where the Americans are concerned.
In this case, as Peters predicted, we would indeed be saved the cost and embarrassment of a trial for Bergdahl, and any sustained national discussion of either the soldier’s motivations and actions, any or all of which discredit the American operation in Afghanistan.
Maybe I’m reading too much into Peters’ shocking display of peevishness and cruelty. Maybe he is just in a bad mood because as Chris Hedges wrote this week, Americans are increasingly aware that we are engaged in a war without purpose. Americans not associated with or beholden to big military, politicized gas, the global heroin trade and neoconservative visions of a subordinated and obedient Middle East are coming to the Hedges conclusion that we don’t really need Afghanistan at all.
Bowe Bergdahl stated that he’s scared that he won’t be able to come home. If Ralph Peters and other cruel and pampered neoconservative visionaries get their way, Bowe and many more Americans will die in Afghanistan this month, and for years to come.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosts the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.