Below are excerpts from a seminal essay on the future significance of information warfare written by the now retired Lieutenant Colonel, Ralph Peters formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the US Army War College journal, Parameters. Though the article was originally published in 1997, it was recently re-published in light of its continued relevance, and has since been quoted by Pepe Escobar in his article “”War Porn: the New Safe Sex”, with direct reference to the media war on Syria. Though unabashedly racist and classist in content and offensively triumphalist and jingoistic in tone, Peters’ essay provides a devastatingly honest account of the central role information warfare will continue to have in US military strategy. As if anticipating the current informational onslaught against the resistance axis, the article serves to confirm how the US media has become the most potent tool in its wider war on its “rejectionist” enemies. Excerpts from the 9 page article are below, with particularly interesting/offensive parts highlighted in upper-case.
“ONE OF THE DEFINING BIFURCATIONS OF THE FUTURE WILL BE THE CONFLICT BETWEEN INFORMATION MASTERS AND INFORMATION VICTIMS.
How can you counterattack the information others have turned upon you? There is no effective option other than competitive performance. For those individuals and cultures that cannot join or compete with our information empire, there is only inevitable failure (of note, the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and community). …. Information, from the internet to rock videos, will not be contained, and fundamentalism cannot control its children. Our victims volunteer.
These noncompetitive cultures, such as that of Arabo-Persian Islam or the rejectionist segment of our own population, are enraged. Their cultures are under assault; their cherished values have proven dysfunctional, and the successful move on without them.
THE LAID-OFF BLUE-COLLAR WORKER IN AMERICA AND THE TALIBAN MILITIAMAN IN AFGHANISTAN ARE BROTHERS IN SUFFERING.
These discarded citizens sense that their government is no longer about them, but only about the privileged.
The foreign twin is the Islamic, or sub-Saharan African, or Mexican university graduate who faces a teetering government, joblessness, exclusion from the profits of the corruption distorting his society, marriage in poverty or the impossibility of marriage, and a deluge of information telling him (exaggeratedly and dishonestly) how well the West lives….
Hollywood goes where Harvard never penetrated, and the foreigner, unable to touch the
reality of America, is touched by America’s irresponsible fantasies of itself; he sees a devilishly enchanting, bluntly sexual, terrifying world from which he is excluded, a world of wealth he can judge only in terms of his own poverty.
Most citizens of the globe are not economists; they perceive wealth as inelastic, its possession a zero-sum game. If decadent America (as seen on the screen) is so fabulously rich, it can only be because America has looted one’s own impoverished group or country or region. ….
This discarded foreigner’s desire may be to attack the “Great Satan America,” but America is far away (for now), so he acts violently in his own neighborhood. He will accept no personal guilt for his failure, nor can he bear the possibility that his culture “doesn’t work.” The blame lies ever elsewhere. The cult of victimization is becoming a universal phenomenon, and it is a
source of dynamic hatreds.
Contemporary American culture is the most powerful in history, and the most destructive of competitor cultures. ..The genius, the secret weapon, of American culture is the essence that the elites despise: ours is the first genuine people’s culture. It stresses comfort and convenience—ease—and it generates pleasure for the masses. WE ARE KARL MARX’S DREAM, AND HIS NIGHTMARE.
Secular and religious revolutionaries in our century have made the identical mistake, imagining that the workers of the world or the faithful just can’t wait to go home at night to study Marx or the Koran. Well, Joe Sixpack, Ivan Tipichni, and Ali Quat would rather “Baywatch.” America has figured it out, and we are brilliant at operationalizing our knowledge, and our cultural power will hinder even those cultures we do not undermine. There is no “peer competitor” in the cultural (or military) department. Our cultural empire has the addicted—men and women everywhere—clamoring for more. And they pay for the privilege of their disillusionment.
As more and more human beings are overwhelmed by information, or dispossessed by the effects of information-based technologies, there will be more violence. Information victims will often see no other resort. As work becomes more cerebral, those who fail to find a place will respond by rejecting reason.
THE DE FACTO ROLE OF THE US ARMED FORCES WILL BE TO KEEP THE WORLD SAFE FOR OUR ECONOMY AND OPEN TO OUR CULTURAL ASSAULT. TO THOSE ENDS, WE WILL DO A FAIR AMOUNT OF KILLING. WE ARE BUILDING AN INFORMATION-BASED MILITARY TO DO THAT KILLING. THERE WILL STILL BE PLENTY OF MUSCLE POWER REQUIRED, BUT MUCH OF OUR MILITARY ART WILL CONSIST IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT THE ENEMY THAN HE KNOWS ABOUT HIMSELF, MANIPULATING DATA FOR EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY, AND DENYING SIMILAR ADVANTAGES TO OUR OPPONENTS. ..
Our informational advantage over every other country and culture will be so enormous that our greatest battlefield challenge will be harnessing its power. Our potential national weakness will be the failure to maintain the moral and raw physical strength to thrust that bayonet into an enemy’s heart. We will outcreate, outproduce and, when need be, outfight the rest of the world. We can out-think them, too. .. Our national appetite for information and our sophistication in handling it will enable us to outlast and outperform all hierarchical cultures, information-controlling societies, and rejectionist states. The skills necessary to this newest information age can be acquired only beginning in childhood and in complete immersion. Societies that fear or otherwise cannot manage the free flow of information simply will
not be competitive. THEY MIGHT MASTER THE TECHNOLOGICAL WHEREWITHAL TO WATCH THE VIDEOS, BUT WE WILL BE WRITING THE SCRIPTS, PRODUCING THEM, AND COLLECTING THE ROYALTIES. OUR CREATIVITY IS DEVASTATING.
It remains difficult, of course, for military leaders to conceive of warfare, informational or otherwise, in such broad terms. BUT HOLLYWOOD IS “PREPARING THE BATTLEFIELD,” and burgers precede bullets. The flag follows trade. Despite our declaration of defeat in the face of battlefield victory in Mogadishu, the image of US power and the US military around the world is not only a deterrent, but a psychological warfare tool that is constantly at work in the minds of real or potential opponents. Saddam swaggered, but the image of the US military crippled the Iraqi army in the field, doing more to soften them up for our ground assault than did tossing bombs into the sand. Everybody is afraid of us. They really believe we can do all the stuff in the movies. If the Trojans “saw” Athena guiding the Greeks in battle, then the Iraqis saw Luke Skywalker precede McCaffrey’s tanks. OUR UNCONSCIOUS ALLIANCE OF CULTURE WITH KILLING POWER IS A COMBAT MULTIPLIER NO GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING OUR OWN, COULD DESIGN OR AFFORD. WE ARE MAGIC. AND WE’RE GOING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.”
Source: Ralph Peters, “Constant Conflict”, Winter 2010-11. pp. 126-134.Source: http