Provocative Essays on the Post-9/11 World and Wars

By Petrik, John | Army, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Provocative Essays on the Post-9/11 World and Wars


Petrik, John, Army


Provocative Essays on the Post-9/11 World and Wars Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace. Ralph Peters. Stackpole Books. 337 pages; $22.95.

In Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace, Ralph Peters has collected a set of his writings that bear on the current war. He divides them into three parts. The first, "Our Future," consists of six essays that originally appeared in 2002. These lay out Peters' views on the failures of Arab Islamic civilization; they also include his taxonomies of states and warriors. The second part, "Our Wars," collects shorter columns published in the New York Post, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With the exception of the first-"How Saddam Won this Round," which reports on a 1998 face-off between Saddam and President Clinton-these essays represent essentially a running commentary on the post-9/11 war. The book's final section, which Peters calls a "Coda: Au Revoir, Marianne ... Auf Wiedersehen, Lili Marleen," advances the view that American interests and American culture have for the foreseeable future diverged quite sharply from Europe's.

Peters says of himself in his introduction ("A Matter of Identity"):

I write. I write essays and commentaries for a variety of publications, from the mildly fusty to the gleefully feisty. ... The differences between my flirtations with "serious" journalism and my affairs with populist newspapers, the variety of themes I romance and discard, and my refusal to wed any partisan ideology all disconcert those proper souls who abhor such promiscuity. But writing is, indeed, like dating and mating: Honesty is essential, while monogamy is a matter of taste.

Yet the promiscuity he boasts of results in a great deal of what Hank and Peggy Hill would call "the same old same old." This is unsurprising and in itself no bad thing. That this book is a collection of essays and columns shapes one's expectations: it will tend to dwell on the author's preoccupations and repeat his conclusions, and it will neither engage in extended argument nor present detailed evidence.

The book is also quite postmodern. Writers use "postmodern" to mean lots of different things. Sometimes it means no more than "really current, even more up-to-date than modern." Sometimes it is synonymous with "postindustrial" or "information age." It can stand for modes of political or social organization that appear to be succeeding the modern period's typical nation-state. Or it can refer to a family of philosophical positions with roots in Nietzsche and the structuralists: the things people say and believe really amount to masks of power, and the modern project of knowing and understanding a world that exists apart from what we happen to believe about it is at bottom a forlorn hope. Peters does not offer an extended discussion of what he understands by postmodernism, but his subtitle tells us that he wishes to tell us something about it. I think he is mainly concerned with the third sense-a world in which the nation-state is no longer the typical way in which people organize their collective lives-but much of his approach strikes me as post-modern in the fourth sense-he is very interested in relationships of power, and in how the things political actors say and do amount to moves in a power game.

"Our Future" offers Peters' characteristically broad and sharply stated generalizations about the enemies America faces in the current war. We have been attacked by the frustrated representatives of a failed civilization-Arab Islamic civilization-who are unable to compete with the dynamic Western developed civilization whose leading exemplar is the United States. Sexually neurotic, delusional with respect to their own failings and trapped in an inhumane version of Islam that has chosen a frozen dogma over the "adventure of faith," bin Laden and his comrades have set themselves against history. The Taliban, al Qaeda, the Baathists and their like draw their fighters from five pools: the underclass (violent losers found scattered through any society of sufficient size to support them), "course-of-conflict" joiners (young men who join a violent movement when they have few other options), opportunists (who simply seek to advance themselves in whatever circumstances they are in-terrorism as a career choice), hardcore believers (nationalists, religious fanatics, besotted followers of a charismatic leader), and mercenaries (demobilized soldiers, mostly). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Provocative Essays on the Post-9/11 World and Wars
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.