Simplistic Is as Simplistic Does: Ralph Peters Edition


Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Great post. Peters has a column to write so he regurgitates standard right wing poo. I bet he wrote it in his sleep.

    I don’t know how many times i have heard that bit about a D’s getting us into wars and R’s getting us out. That is so shallow. R’s were pushing for aggressive intervention, escalation and more war in VN but somehow blame D’s for getting in. Huh? In Korea, some Cons were all for escalation into China. R’s have been pretty consistently for covert and overt intervention, but then pull this psychotic D’s start all the wars stuff. Sounds sort of bi-polar.

    Somebody should by him Bacevich’s Limits of Power. His brain would explode.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to greginak says:


      yeah the d’s get us in, r’s out is a generic frame. more granularity reveals a more complicated scenario. e.g. nixon escalated in vietnam before drawing down.Report

    • Avatar Bob in reply to greginak says:

      I haven’t seen this meme (or is it a trope?) trotted out for years. I thought it had been retired. It all goes back to Wilson, blah, blah, blah. Next thing you know top-hats will be back in style.

      Our long-range strategy – continue to outspend the rest of the world, combined, buying military stuff.Report

  2. Avatar Kyle says:

    Contra Peters and those in his camp, the core issue continues to be that the US has no grand strategy in the post Cold War world

    Its too late for me to remember exactly but I think this came up before at the league and I questioned whether democracies – generally – lacked the ability to pursue strategic foreign policy goals in the long term.

    I’d say the most common theme amongst Presidencies is not engagement, naivete, or doctrine development but instead a foreign policy primarily dominated by a.) reactions to global events b.) domestic politics c.) American aggrandizement

    Despite their grand proclamations to the contrary, I find weak evidence that Presidents are little more than foreign policy fire-fighters, more response than anything else.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Kyle says:

      well said. i think you’re three points are, um, exactly on point.

      I wouldn’t say it’s a democratic thing necessarily though. I think the US basically had the policy of containment hold across the Cold War, across both parties. There were some differences to be sure in various satellite scenarios (to intervene, not intervene, where, when, how? etc) but containment held. Even if some R’s talked about rollback it never amounted to much more than in the proxy wars. We didn’t intervene to save the Czechs or Hungarians.

      Since the end of the Cold War though there’s no equivalent to containment. The de facto has been a kind of American hegemony or unipolarity under various names (New World Order, Indispensable Nation, New American Century, etc.) but it’s mostly as you say been reactive.Report

    • Avatar Dave S. in reply to Kyle says:

      To extend the firefighter analogy, I guess that would make George W a serial arsonist.

      Chris, kudos for the post in general and the Blazing Saddles reference in particular.

      “The machinations of Hugo Chavez” – man, that cracks me up. Is this really all they’ve got?Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    I might add a tendency to expand or support our peculiar empire.Report

  4. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Chris, what are you trying to do, give me a stroke: “…or that Clinton I think actually handled the Bosnia and Kosovo situations decently well. ”
    We supported the Mujahadeen/Al Qaida in Bosnia and Kosovo, you know the guys that slaughtered 3,000 Americans!!!!!!Report

    • Avatar Bob in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

      Dealing with “bad guys” is not unknown when dealing with bad guys might actually bring about desired results. Bush was willing to deal with the Sons of Iraq, the Awakening Councils. As I understand it these groups were composed of men with lots of American service men blood on their hands.Report