The World of Myth
Ralph Peters ennumerates what he thinks are the "12 Myths of 21st Century War".
- 1. War doesn’t change anything.
- 2. Victory is impossible today.
- 3. Insurgencies can never be defeated.
- 4. There’s no military solution; only negotiations can solve our problems.
- 5. When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.
- 6. Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.
- 7. If we fight as fiercely as our enemies, we’re no better than them.
- 8. The United States is more hated today than ever before.
- 9. Our invasion of Iraq created our terrorist problems.
- 10. If we just leave, the Iraqis will patch up their differences on their own.
- 11. It’s all Israel’s fault. Or the popular Washington corollary: “The Saudis are our friends.”
- 12. The Middle East’s problems are all America’s fault.
These ideas exist in varying degrees of sophistication and are available in versions ranging from the unthinking rant to the respectable academic paper. Their power lies in that they contain some degree of plausibility or truth. But they are not the whole truth. And like those who would argue religious or philosophical questions the rebuttals are also available in degrees of sophistication.
But the "12 myths" are more than random collection of beliefs. Together they constitute a system of thought which consistently describe a foreign policy. What the objects of this foreign policy are I leave the reader to think about. Consider the following 12 duals, which I will argue are ideologically consistent with the "myths" expressed above, though they seem to contradict individual assertions.
- War is capable of achieving liberation from the clutches of America.
- Victory over America is not only possible, but inevitable.
- Insurgencies against insurgencies can always be defeated.
- Terrorists can simply state their demands and we have no alternative to accede.
- Fighting America should never provoke it.
- Killing Americans does not turn them into martyrs.
- A suicide vest is a "poor man's F-16".
- Al-Qaeda, despite its outrages, is loved in the Islamic World
- September 11 happened before America invaded Iraq.
- We abandoned the Kurds and the Shi'ites to Saddam. It is our fault.
- The Holocaust is Europe's fault.
- America must remain engaged in the Middle East and support the regime there. This is the "adult" approach to fighting terrorism.
The key to understanding why it is possible to form statements which contradict individual myths yet remain consistent within the ideological universe is this: the only essential myth it is necessary to accept is the guilt and worthlessness of Western civilization. The particulars are irrelevant.