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A review of Ralph Peters' New Glory…
[Gordon Cucullu] 8/24/05
conviction of a visionary, Ralph Peters dismisses the negativity
of those he accuses of promulgating America’s “bizarre
cult of pessimism.” In New Glory: Expanding America’s
Global Supremacy, Peters’ latest soon-to-be-bestseller,
the author steadfastly expresses a belief in the innate goodness
of an America he describes as “the greatest force for
freedom and change in history.” But New Glory is no mere
paean to an idealized America. There have been mistakes. “We
have stumbled forward while looking wistfully over our shoulders
at the past,” he acknowledges. Unlike those consumed
with the cult of guilt for past sins – real or imaginary – Peters
urges readers to “set our eyes firmly on the future once
again.” New Glory is a page-turning guide on just how
glorious that future could be.
Of all things
he has been – soldier, adventurer, historian,
intelligence analyst, author, commentator – above all,
Peters is a story-telling realist, a rare but unbeatable combination.
He sets the stage of an America of “many revolutions” (e.g.,
women’s emancipation, racial integration, tolerance, family,
geriatrics, and more) leading an often reluctant, hostile world
into the new century. Peters also speaks to a spectrum of threats
and opportunities – those we face now and those still to
come. He analyzes America and the world regionally, ideologically,
militarily, and in terms of potential good and ill. From there
he outlines a national policy that is unapologetically pro-American
and, to a degree that will surprise chronic pessimists, pro-the
rest of the world, too.
Peters paints with broad strokes. He commands
a remarkable breadth and depth of history, and has an exceptional
ability to identify
critical historic fault-lines. Unlike many Americans, Peters
understands that history and destiny have a longer horizon than
any single life. One of his many wise recommendations is that
America “must cultivate the art of patience.” That
advice, I fear, has faint chance of success in our instant gratification
society. Nevertheless, Peters, unlike many contemporary analysts,
refuses to let readers take the easy path. He demands that we
face the bitter, blood-soaked reality of the world as it is,
not as politicians, defense manufacturers, bureaucrats, or the
think-tankers who serve them would have us believe. And that
reality means that we will forever have enemies bent on our destruction,
foes we must fight with implacable fortitude and an unwavering
commitment to win.
He disdainfully rejects pacifism, which he considers
of responsibility toward our fellow human beings,” mere “cowardice
masquerading as virtue.” Peters is adamant about the importance
of fighting for human rights, arguing that amelioration of gross
human rights abuses abroad justifies American military intervention.
This places him at odds with right-wing realpolitik types as
well as the usual hard-left suspects, albeit for quite different
reasons. Peters’ compelling linkage of human rights to
strategic issues makes New Glory an ideal companion piece to
Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy.
In addition to his impeccable analysis and crisp
style – honed
as a writer of non-fiction and a tireless columnist – Peters
is a highly talented novelist. His story-telling abilities add
drama and suspense. On a September afternoon in 1683, for example,
the reader suddenly joins tall Polish hussars in a daring cavalry
charge that broke the Ottoman siege of Vienna, thereby liberating
a chronically ungrateful Europe from the centuries-old threat
of Islam. These kinds of historical anecdotes – and their
highly relevant links to present-day issues – add a wonderful
flavor to the book and will leave the reader wishing for more.
While Peters has the ink of optimistic in his
pen, he also dips it into a highly acidic, often darkly humorous
the cynical, the fanatic, the muddle-headed, and the mad. He
offers bare-knuckle analysis of current issues ranging from Islamofascism
to chronic French perfidy. He brilliantly contrasts corrupt,
feeble Old Europe to the untapped high-energy of the South –South
Africa, Latin America, and India - and discusses the role that
America must play in a future he envisions as glorious and attainable.
But it is a future that comes, as do all human endeavors, with
a cost. America, he insists, must be prepared to deal realistically
with our enemies and shed blood of heroes in order to promote
good for our people and the peoples of the world.
This is not a book to speed-read although you will want to do
so. Just as aged sour mash bourbon is not for chugging, New
Glory deserves thoughtful contemplation. Peters has produced a dynamic,
intellectually challenging, must-read book with cutting edge
applicability. It needs to be in the hands of all policy makers
- and of everyone who votes for them.tRO
about North Korea? Learn more in Gordon’s
best-selling book Separated
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became
the Evil Twin, Lyons Press available at bookstores now.
Gordon Cucullu 2005