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Lt. Col. Ralph Peters on Journalists: ‘Kill Them All’

Thanks to Cecilie Surasky for pointing out this gem of neocon war-mongering.

Let me start by saying that one of the sub-specialties of this blog involves featuring the paranoia, delusions and outright mania of the neocon right.  Today, we have one hot sample.  Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, writing at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a hard-right pro-Israel national security site, pens  a virtual fever dream of a proto-fascist, anti-democratic screed.

Let me be plain, this man is the enemy.  He hates everything about this country that, to me, makes it worth living in or dying for if necessary.  He is the Buck Turgidsen and Dr. Strangelove of early 21st century America.  If he has his way, we will turn into a military garrison state.  Something little short of ancient Sparta.

Peters begins with the questionable premise that there is a war between radical Islam and the west and that the wild-eyed terrorists are way ahead because they are fearsomely committed to their cause and we are effete wimps.  Here is a sampling of his questionable thinking:

…Collective memory has effectively erased the European-sponsored horrors of the last century; yesteryear’s “unthinkable” events have become, well, unthinkable. As someone born only seven years after the ovens of Auschwitz stopped smoking, I am stunned by the common notion, which prevails despite ample evidence to the contrary, that such horrors are impossible today.

Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Darfur, Cambodia…I could go on.  You get my drift.  What universe is this guy living in?  What human being half-aware of the contemporary AND historical record believes that genocide is “unthinkable” today?  What Peters is REALLY complaining about is that we don’t credit the possibility that MUSLIMS want to exterminate us as Nazis exterminated Jews.  And here the answer is, unfortunately for Peters, that yes, most of us don’t believe radical Muslims, even had they the will to do so, actually have the ability to do “the unthinkable.”

That doesn’t mean that we should lull ourselves into complacency on the subject or that we should refuse to monitor anti-western Islamists for the danger they truly represent.  But it DOES mean that we won’t be rounding up American Muslims and placing them in concentration camps as wingnuts like Peters, Daniel Pipes, David Yerushalmi, Michael Ledeen and others would have us do.

Peters betrays a nostalgia for a lost American past, a time out on the frontier when men were men and they knew how to settle their differences with their fists or at the muzzle of a Colt .44 pistol:

…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. 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.

Betraying more hankering for our grim, murderous “heroic” historic past, Peters betrays his first bit of animus toward contemporary media:

More Americans died in one afternoon at Cold Harbor during our Civil War than died in six years in Iraq. Three times as many American troops fell during the morning of June 6, 1944, as have been lost in combat in over seven years in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, prize-hunting reporters insist that our losses in Iraq have been catastrophic…

Again, I’m not sure what universe Peters lives in.  I’ve read no reporter who’s made such a claim.  It’s different to say our losses in Iraq have been unacceptably high compared to our legitimate national interest in being there; than it is to say they have been “catastrophic.”  But again, this is a distinction the essayist is uninterested in making.

Another indication of both Peters perspective and prejudices is his description of war as:

…Humanity’s most complex, decisive and vital endeavor.

Whatever happened to peace, to negotiations?  Since when is war humanity’s “most vital endeavor?”

More questionable “wisdom” from the general:

…The world in which we do live remains one in which war is the primary means of resolving humanity’s grandest disagreements, as well as supplying the answer to plenty of questions…Warfare is…the organized endeavor at which human beings excel…There is simply nothing that human collectives do better (or with more enthusiasm) than fight each other.

Last I checked Teddy Roosevelt earned a Nobel Prize for STOPPING the Russo-Japanese War, not for starting it.  Ditto, Jimmy Carter and the Camp David Accords in 1979.  I never noticed that George Patton or William Techumseh Sherman earned any Nobels.  Sure, you can say that the Civil War “resolved” the disagreements between the North and the South.  But I’m convinced that if Lincoln had thought there was any other way than war to resolve the dispute, he would gladly have chosen it.  War is not, nor should it be the PRIMARY means of resolving disputes.  There are many other methods of doing so.  It is Peters’ interest as a soldier to posit the thesis he does.  But it is not in our interest as a nation to embrace his views.

For an alleged student of history, Peters seems ignorant of the truth of Gandhi’s non-violent campaign for independence from British rule:

Gandhi’s campaign of non-violence (often quite violent in its reality) only worked because his opponent was willing to play along.

The British were quite violent in their struggle against Gandhi as anyone who saw the movie can tell you.  To say that they “played along” is a gross distortion of the historical record.

Here Peters makes the claim that the west should embrace the notion of a holy religious war between us and Islam:

The problem is religion. Our Islamist enemies are inspired by it, while we are terrified even to talk about it. We are in the unique position of denying that our enemies know what they themselves are up to. They insist, publicly, that their goal is our destruction (or, in their mildest moods, our conversion) in their god’s name. We contort ourselves to insist that their religious rhetoric is all a sham…

Once again Peters misconstrues the true debate.  We are not terrified to talk about Islam or religion in general.  But we refuse to demonize all Muslims and refuse to accept the claim that Islam AS A RELIGION is at war with non-Muslims or the west in general.  We make a distinction, which the general refuses to make, between Islamists and those who worship Islam.

In Peters’ warped evangelical mindset, we preach love of Islam and hatred of our own native religions:

We have so oversold ourselves on the notion of respect for all religions (except, of course, Christianity and Judaism)…

A paralyzing problem “inside the Beltway” is that our ruling class has been educated out of religious fervor. 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. Emotional displays of belief make the functional agnostic or social atheist nervous; he or she reacts with elitist disdain.

If you had any doubt that this fellow stands at the extreme edge of political discourse, this passage should’ve allayed it.  Yet he is a retired general and respected analyst featured by the war-mongering pro-Israel JINSA.  What does that tell you about this crowd?

Here’s another passage exemplifying not only of ignorance of Islam, but outright racism:

…Islam’s long descent into cultural darkness and civilizational impotence…

Islam today is composed of over a billion essentially powerless human beings, many of them humiliated and furiously jealous…

The failures of the Middle Eastern Islamic world are self-wrought, the disastrous results of the deterioration of a once-triumphant faith into a web of static cultures obsessed with behavior at the expense of achievement. The core world of Islam, stretching from Casablanca to the Hindu Kush, is not competitive in a single significant sphere of human endeavor (not even terrorism since, at present, we are terrorizing the terrorists). We are confronted with a historical anomaly, the public collapse of a once-great, still-proud civilization that, in the age of super-computers, cannot build a reliable automobile: enormous wealth has been squandered; human capital goes wasted; economies are dysfunctional; and the quality of life is barbaric. Those who once cowered at Islam’s greatness now rule the world. The roughly one-fifth of humanity that makes up the Muslim world lacks a single world-class university of its own. The resultant rage is immeasurable; jealousy may be the greatest unacknowledged strategic factor in the world today.

Here is more bogus historiography:

…(the myth that insurgents of any kind usually win has no historical basis)…

And more hysterics:

…The age-old lesson of religion-fueled rebellions is that they must be put down with unsparing bloodshed—the fanatic’s god is not interested in compromise solutions. The leading rebels or terrorists must be killed. We, on the contrary, want to make them our friends.

Doubtless the Israeli generals who perpetrated the Gaza massacre were in touch with Gen. Peters in formulating their rules of engagement:

When the United States…decides to go to war—it must intend to win. That means…we need to bring every possible resource to bear from the outset—an approach that saves blood and treasure in the long run. And we must stop obsessing about our minor sins. Warfare will never be clean, soldiers will always make mistakes, and rounds will always go astray, despite our conscientious safeguards and best intentions. Instead of agonizing over a fatal mistake made by a young Marine at a roadblock, we must return to the fundamental recognition that the greatest “war crime” the United States can commit is to lose.

Yes.  Forget about human rights, constitutional safeguards.  All those little niceties of democracy that only get in the way.  Kill many and kill often for that will bring victory.  And victory is all that matters.  You’ll have to forgive me for believing there are a few other principles more important than victory like morality, civilization.

Martin Luther King was willing to die for his cause.  Should he have preferred to hire hit squads to assassinate every American who stood in his way to attain “victory?”

Believe it or not the following subject is, if anything, more disturbing than the ones I’ve covered here so far.  Peters is a devout enemy of the media.  He calls the final section of his essay, Killers Without Guns, and have no doubt he’s talking about the entire Fourth Estate, an entity whose protection is inscribed into constitution and law.  Yet would Peters have his way, we would entirely exterminate the press.  This is frightening stuff:

There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, but one which we not only refrain from attacking…: 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.

…The neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.

Considering that this guy appears to be an intelligent individual with some expertise in military strategy, the following indicates he’s completely at sea as far as understanding what really happened in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008:

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.

In fact, Israel could not win either war.  The first war it clearly lost, the second it failed to achieve its objectives, which is the same as losing.  Now, if Israel had been willing to wage a war like the Romans did on Carthage and exile every inhabitant of south Lebanon and Gaza, raze every building to its foundation, and sow salt in the ground so it would never produce another living thing, then perhaps it COULD win.  That is possibly the kind of victory Peters wants.  But he’s living in the wrong era if he thinks such an atrocity is possible in this age.

Here Peters advocates outright criminality in my opinion, overt military attacks on the media:

…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.

In my opinion, any media outlet that interviews this man or pays him a red cent in consulting fees is doing the deepest disservice to itself and the entire profession of journalism.  Even Fox News, where this guy is most comfortable, should shun him.  He’s advocating killing journalists!  This man is the lowest of the low.  And as for JINSA, whose journal features this essay–by spewing such hate they tell us a great deal about their own hateful, anti-democratic views.

To top it all off, Peters closes his essay with this piece of horrific, self-justifying logic:

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.

He hasn’t the faintest notions that it is possible that our victory, if we win dirty and betray every principle of value, will turn us into monsters.  Then we won’t really need an enemy.  We will have become out own worst enemy.

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Brian Peck May 22, 2009, 6:00 AM

    I very much agree with you that Peters is a very dangerous, and quite misinformed man. However, his comment on Gandhi is correct though his language is not quite as clear as it should be. Gandhi’s non-violence movement was in fact quite violent. It did require provoking the British into greater levels of violence to turn public and world opinion against the colonial administration, so it did require that they “play along”. A poor choice of words on Peters part but I did get what he was trying to say.

    Interestingly, non-violence would work quite well in the Occupied Territories precisely because Israel, like England, has become so violent in overreacting to minor provocations. The first Intifada was perhaps the least violent effort by the Palestinians and yet gave them the greatest political edge.

    But, like I said, though I sort of agree with him on the Gandhi point, I much closer align with you on the dangers of men like Peters. The last thing this democracy needs is military leaders who believe that war is mankinds greatest endeavour. Scary as hell.

  • americangoy May 22, 2009, 6:15 AM

    Great article!

    This blog is getting better and better – this blog needs more exposure.

    One comment.

    The sentence:
    “The neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.”

    The neo-pagans remark show me that the man in question is a rapture, hard core xtian, who views any not like him (not just moslems) as THE enemy.

    It is scary that such frankly sick and immature religious fanatics can reach such high positions in the US military.

  • Toby May 22, 2009, 10:57 AM

    I’ve always wondered, when hawks say things like this:

    “They insist, publicly, that their goal is our destruction (or, in their mildest moods, our conversion) in their god’s name.”

    …who are they talking about? Well, it’s not bin Laden, for one. According to his 1998 fatwa, Muslims are to kill Americans and their allies *because* the west has declared war on Islam, and *in order to* “liberate” Muslim countries and holy land. The fatwa says nothing about killing anyone beyond the specific goal of getting the west out of the greater middle east. Nothing about killing infidels just cuz they’re non-believers. Nothing about converting anyone, or making the whole planet Muslim. Check and see:


    So, when a fellow like Peters says that the Islamic terrorists (all of them!) are aimed at killing / converting all the rest of us–are they referring to people even crazier than OBL? (I admit I haven’t read all the terrorist manifestos out there.) Or is it a fiction cut from whole cloth? Or perhaps a projection of the darker aspirations of Christians (so-called) of Peters’ ilk?

  • Barbara May 22, 2009, 4:28 PM

    TY for posting this. I have put it up on my page as well, with appropriate credits.

    This is not my specialty and heaven knows I am so behind on my writing that I should do that instead, but this, this is a good one. So much fear and hatred in these people.

    So misguided. Sometimes I think, they KNOW what the net can do, how it has backfired on them, how long can we go on? So I figure we just increase our activity and spread the word of as much as we can to as many as we can.

    Yours in sharing, and, smiles. Never surrender. There is no such thing as futile resistance.

  • Barbara May 22, 2009, 4:50 PM

    You ask where this man gets his thinking from. I just put together a piece the other night.


    Meet Israeli Zionist neocon Professor Martin Van Creveld and explore his writings. Terrifying and you will also find the man who is possibly this deluded creature’s mentor.

    This guy really doesn’t get it, does he? He buys into ALL the myths and then builds his own private fantasies around them. IE he believes Pearl Harbour was done without American collaboration, nicely arranged between the US President and the alcoholic Churchill. If he were not in power he would be pathetic.

    • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2009, 8:27 PM

      I have not yet read yr piece & I don’t always agree with Martin Van Creveld, but you are being far too dismissive of him & his views. Google his name here & you’ll find one or two posts I’ve written about some great pieces he’s written for The Forward & others.

  • Beth May 22, 2009, 5:16 PM

    Regarding the comparison with characters from the movie Dr. Strangelove, Peters sounds more like Gen. Jack D. Ripper, the one who ordered his bombers to attack the Soviet Union.

    • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2009, 8:25 PM

      Yes, of course, that’s who I really meant. The guy who claimed he was preserving America’s precious bodily fluids.

  • Andy May 22, 2009, 7:11 PM

    At least Peters acknowledges, correctly, that the West is in the terrorism business.

  • DICKERSON3870 May 22, 2009, 9:18 PM

    RE: “He is the Buck Turgidsen and Dr. Strangelove of early 21st century America.”

    MY COMMENT: A turgid Bucky has no conscience!

  • DICKERSON3870 May 22, 2009, 9:25 PM

    RE: “The problem is religion. Our Islamist enemies are inspired by it, while we are terrified even to talk about it.”

    SEE:”Biblical Prophesy and the Iraq War – Bush, God, Iraq and Gog” – By Clive Hamilton, 05/22/09

    (EXCERPT)”…In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated…”

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.counterpunch.org/hamilton05222009.html

  • DICKERSON3870 May 22, 2009, 9:37 PM

    RE: “Last I checked Teddy Roosevelt earned a Nobel Prize for STOPPING the Russo-Japanese War, not for starting it. Ditto, Jimmy Carter and the Camp David Accords in 1979.”

    JOE DUH PLUMMAH SEZ: Nobel Prizes are fer pantywaists!

  • JohnYorke May 23, 2009, 1:35 AM

    This is all symptomatic of an underlying malaise, where viewing the situation as one of unremitting degeneration and complexity can render our minds incapable of logical thought. Too often we have approached the subject with anodyne references to vigilance, democracy and altruistic principle instead of what we should have be doing all along; closing in upon the beast, grappling with it more directly and forcing it to our will. Unless we evolve procedures that can deal effectively with these problems and not be confined to a mere tidying-up of their edges, we will have to live with the consequences of our inaction.

    Circumstances change, perceived notions are reinforced and polarisation continues unabated. If we cannot respond in some defined and constant manner to what is happening and may well yet happen, then it must be our lot to continue spitting into the wind.

    And, as I’m sure you’ve all noticed, the wind has this nasty habit of spitting back.

    John Yorke,


  • Jack DuVall May 24, 2009, 1:36 PM

    Brian Peck (a commenter above) is not correct when he says that Gandhi’s movement was violent. The use of nonviolent tactics against a military occupier (which is what the British were in India) usually leads to violent repression, which can then trigger spontaneous reactive violence by untrained participants in a nonviolent movement who aren’t following orders. Whenever a nonviolent campaign got out of hand and there was outlier violence, Gandhi called the campaign off. He knew that violence would contaminate the struggle for Indian independence because it would forfeit the legitimacy that a truly mass, representative movement could claim. Having said that, I hasten to add that Ralph Peters is wrong to claim that nonviolent action only worked in India because the British somehow indulged Gandhi. In reality, nonviolent movements have a far higher success rate than violent insurrection. In 50 of 67 transitions from authoritarianism to democracy since 1970, nonviolent civic coalitions were the decisive feature, and “pacted transitions” (i.e. involving negotiations) were the causal process in most of the rest. (http://www.icnl.org/knowledge/ijnl/vol7iss3/special_3.htm) And in a seminal study comparing violent and nonviolent insurrections over a 106-year period, Drs. Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan found that violent insurrections can be said to have been successful in 26% of such cases, while nonviolent insurrection succeeded in 53% of those cases (http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/PDF/IS3301_pp007-044_Stephan_Chenoweth.pdf).

  • Lanny Davis July 4, 2009, 5:13 AM

    [comment deleted and commenter banned for violation of comment rules]

  • zo July 22, 2009, 6:36 AM

    Stop calling him a general. He’s a Lt Col, they are a dime-a-dozen in the military. Most officers that stay in 15 years and are even relatively competent can make that rank…

    The guy has certain points to which I could agree to some level, but by and large he is filled with nonsense. He just said on Fox News that the hopes the Taliban executes Bergdahl (soldier who may have left his post to explore the mountains)?? Is he serious?? Overall the guy is scum, he is living in a fantasy world, who writes the word war but has no idea what it really means.

  • lee sellars July 22, 2009, 10:59 PM

    you ,sir, are an idiot. your statements are completely irresponsible…your statements can be used against our own people, most especially against the unfortunate young american being held right now … crawl back under the rock you slithered from; do us all a favor and stop talking.

  • pam September 11, 2009, 8:34 AM

    Lee, I agree, they are spineless cowards. Ralph Peters is almost always correct. he should be running the country insted of the weakling bigoted America hating group we have currently. happy 911.

  • rivka November 7, 2009, 4:50 AM

    you are a coward and you will die a coward, tikun olam has nothing to do with it. all you want is for the enemies of israel to love you thats why your messege is so extrime in liberal views. deep down i am sure you dont believe it but just say it for the these audience. there is no place for jews like yourself in judaism, you should be cut off from the house of israel.

    • Richard Silverstein November 7, 2009, 5:17 PM

      Thank you very much for your strong vote of support. It’s encouragement fr. people like you that keeps me going. If I were a coward I would be cowering in fear from spite & bile like yours. Instead, your hate energizes me and serves as a reminder to my readers of what we are all battling against.

  • Carol Schneider February 27, 2010, 10:32 AM


  • Ryan March 14, 2010, 11:24 AM

    What surprised me is that Ralph Peters wrote an article 3 years ago which completely ripped up the Eurabia myth and exposed it for the bullshit that it really was.

  • whitey March 26, 2010, 11:06 AM

    How did this maniac ever last to that rank in the military? His twisted view of Israeli behavior is pathetic. Fox network should by now understand that our blind support of Isaeli atrocities as well as providing ongoing welfare to Israel alienates virtually all the world and is an indirect support of slavery. These neocons like Peters seem intent on getting the US to do Israel’s bidding like we did in Iraq and are gearing up to have us attack Iran next.

  • LMM August 31, 2010, 10:40 PM

    this guy is nuts. I can’t say really say much more than he is a sad example of intelligent americans. so disturbing.

  • Cobalt Shiva September 21, 2012, 10:51 AM

    Mr. Silverstein, it would probably help a great deal if you actually read the articles you quote, instead of relying on your pet buzzwords and your interpretation of same to get to what you want to believe was written. It would also help considerably if you actually had read and understood enough history to understand how little of it you actually comprehend. Teddy Roosevelt, for example, received a Nobel Prize for his role in the Portsmouth Treaty negotiations–but he simultaneously put the United States on a collision course with Japan, one that bore terrible fruit 40 years later.

    By the left’s own standards, which I will force them to live by (you guys want to play by Alinsky’s Rules, you’re going to get the full monty, like it or not), Teddy Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Prize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • Richard Silverstein September 21, 2012, 3:10 PM

      You advise others to read the articles I quote you you never even bothered to read it yourself. Take your own advice before dishing out unsolicited words of wisdom to others. Nor do you offer any proof that I haven’t understood the articles I quoted or linked.

      As for Saul Alinsky, this may fit your neat ideological worldview to bring up such non sequiturs, but comment rules here insist comments be ON TOPIC. Comment only on the material posted and don’t drag in your pet prejudices or obsessions.

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