Saturday, January 01, 2005

Update on "When Devils Walk the Earth"

After posting the excert from a Ralph Peters book below, I was informed by Robert Hessen, a Senior research Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford that the book was actually Peters 2002 "The Road to Terror" and was the title of the 2nd Chapter. With his permission I post his e-mail with thanks for setting the record straight and making an honest man outta me.

Dear Tom Heard:
You write: "This essay is extracted from Ralph Peters' new book, "When Devils
Walk the Earth."

Actually, this is NOT a new book, but rather a chapter (#2) of
his book, The Road to Terror (not to be confused with his
latest, The Road to Baghdad). Thanks for linking to it, since
I had never read the chapter before.

Robert Hessen
Senior Research Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford CA 94305

After doing a little more reasearch (you should have done it before now...ed ) I ran across this from the Air and Space Power Journal.:

Document created: 4 September 03
Air & Space Power Journal - Fall 2003

Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World by Ralph Peters. Stackpole Books (http://www. storefront), 5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055-6921, 2002, 368 pages, $22.95 (hardcover).

Ralph Peters had an interesting military career that included service in the Executive Office of the President. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in order to speak freely about what he considered problems in the US military and political policies. Although one can disagree with his points of view, they do force readers to think about the future of our armed forces. Beyond Terror includes 16 essays that Peters published in such journals as the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings and the Army War College’s Parameters, as well as a few chapters written specifically for it. The book deals with problems as varied as the root causes of intelligence failures, the need for linguists, and the problem of retired flag officers assuming positions in private defense-contracting firms.

Peters- who seems to embrace Samuel Huntington’s theory of the clash of civilizations, which many academics reject- begins by discussing America’s place in history, arguing that the United States should not be ashamed of its military and industrial might. He feels that we often support dictatorships and corrupt regimes in the name of political expediency when we should be throwing our instruments of national power behind people who want self-determination. About the world of Islam he writes, “[Muslims] must decide whether to wallow in a comforting that warms the heart with hatred of others” (p. 6), a statement that is too simplistic and minimizes efforts to really identify what is currently wrong with Islam. For example, one glaring problem is the inability of Sunni Islam to reinvent itself through an Islamic concept called Ijithaad (analytical reasoning), which senior religious officials foolishly banned in the ninth century.

“When Devils Walk the Earth,” the chapter on terrorism, offers an excellent analysis of two different types of terrorists: the practical and the apocalyptic. The former have a political agenda and want to ascend to power, so utterly destroying the infrastructure they intend to govern makes no sense. The latter are the more dangerous type because they believe they are the hand of God. Unlike practical terrorists, the apocalyptic terrorists do not listen to reason- after all, they have God on their side. Peters candidly states that the apocalyptic faction must simply be destroyed. Clearly, Beyond Terror is a controversial book but an important one for readers interested in forecasting strategy and policy.
Lt Comdr Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN
Washington, D.C.

After doing some more research on Dr. Peters, I added his works to my books-to-buy list. Thanks again to Robert Hessen and also to John Ray at Dissecting Leftism for the link to the previous post. Otherwise I would have remainded blissfully ignorant.