The editors behind neo-con spankbook Journal of International Security Affairs have truly outdone themselves, by allowing a piece by conservative military writer Ralph Peters to pass into print that more or less advocates for the indiscriminate murder of war journalists, who Peters refers to as "The Killers Without Guns":
While the essence of warfare never changes--it will always be about killing the enemy until he acquiesces in our desires or is exterminated--its topical manifestations evolve and its dimensions expand. 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.
While this brief essay cannot undertake to analyze the psychological dysfunctions that lead many among the most privileged Westerners to attack their own civilization and those who defend it, we can acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that, to most media practitioners, our troops are always guilty (even if proven innocent), while our barbaric enemies are innocent (even if proven guilty). 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.
Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza.
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.
Writing at Registan, Joshua Foust reacts, appropriately:
Yes, yes--victory at any cost is a virtue! Let loose the dogs of war! Murder everyone who gets in our way! Break a few eggs to make the world's most delicious geopolitical omelette!
And this is after he brags about how the U.S. is the world's greatest terrorist, since "at present, we are terrorizing the terrorists." Good God. The mind boggles at who would publish this bullshit.
Foust takes it even further in a comment on The Stupidest Man On Earth:
Actually, Peters is a fan of AMERICA, and because in that essay he argues America can do no wrong, since regardless of methods everything we do is a net-good to the world... well, he has nothing to worry about. Frankly, I'm more disappointed that Peters, who was an intel officer and never served in combat, calls the actual combat veterans in the Obama administration a bunch of "war virgins" because they aren't sufficiently blood-thirsty.
And indeed, Foust is right. The whole call to jihad against journalists is really just a sideline issue in an essay that can only be considered as the product of a deep and unholy psychosis, in which American exceptionalism is basically cited again and again as a justification for pure savagery and bloodlust.
The whole essay immediately reminded me of the book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, in which author Chris Hedges -- himself a veteran war correspondent -- documents at length the way the experience of war is too often absorbed by its participants like an intoxicant that collapses moral edifices. I wish there was a single good pull from the book that sums this up, but it probably speaks well of the book that it can't be simply boiled down to a single paragraph. Nevertheless, Hedges' work is ably summarized here:
Hedges argues that war is both a deadly addiction -- a drug that offers an unmatchable intoxication, the thrill of being released from the moral strictures of everyday life -- and a unifying force that provides a sense of meaning, purpose, and self-sacrifice that can wash away life's trivial concerns. But the meaningfulness of combat, Hedges suggests, depends upon the myth of war. In reality, no matter what grand cause it is supposed to support, war is simply the basest form of aggression: "organized murder." Once war begins, the moral universe collapses and every manner of atrocity can be justified in the eyes of those who wage it, because the cause is just, the enemy is inhuman, and only war can restore balance to the world.
The simplest way I can summarize Peters' essay is to say that it is like the most monstrous form of the pathology Hedges describes has crawled from the pages of his book to defecate upon the pages of JINSA.