Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Enemy of the Future: A Warrior with Nothing to Lose

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Enemy of the Future: A Warrior with Nothing to Lose

Article excerpt

AN ARMY MAJOR says in an influential military journal that the United States may lack the spine to fight its likeliest enemy.

That enemy: a "warrior class" rising around the world as traditional governments fall in places like Haiti.

The major is Ralph Peters, who works in the Pentagon as a threat-assessment officer for Army intelligence. His forum is Parameters, the journal of the Army War College.

"The soldiers of the United States Army are brilliantly prepared to defeat other soldiers," Peters writes in the new issue of Parameters.

"Unfortunately, the enemies we are likely to face through the rest of this decade and beyond will not be `soldiers,' with the disciplined modernity that term implies, but `warriors' - erratic primitives of shifting allegiances, habituated to violence, with no stake in civil order."

The key words for Peters are "habituated to violence." He writes, "For the U.S. soldier, vaccinated with moral and behavioral codes, the warrior is a formidable enemy. . . . U.S. soldiers are unprepared for the absolute mercilessness of which modern warriors are capable," and are discouraged or forbidden from replying in kind.

Peters finds his new breed of warriors all around the globe, from Haiti through the Balkans and the former Soviet Union to the Middle East, Afghanistan and beyond - even the big-city slums of the United States.

His article says the warriors spring from four pools:

The underclass, whose typical member he defines as "a male who has no stake in peace, a loser with little education, no legal earning power, no abiding attractiveness to women and no power."

Younger males shunted by the disruption of civil institutions into the underclass. Although they can be redeemed, he says, "the average warrior who takes up a Kalashnikov at age 13 is probably not going to settle down."

Genuine patriots, motivated by ideological belief or by personal loss. He says they're easiest to reclaim but adds that some "will develop a taste for blood and war's profits."

Cashiered military men. They're the most dangerous, Peters writes. "These men bring other warriors the rudiments of the military art - just enough to inspire faith and encourage folly. …

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