killed by the puppet forces, 2008

Oh dear, oh dear.

A redrawn map of South Asia has been making the rounds among Pakistani elites. It shows their country truncated, reduced to an elongated sliver of land with the big bulk of India to the east, and an enlarged Afghanistan to the west.

That the map was first circulated as a theoretical exercise in some U.S. neoconservative circles matters little here. It has fueled a belief among Pakistanis, including members of the armed forces, that what the United States really wants is the breakup of Pakistan, the only Muslim country with nuclear arms.

“One of the biggest fears of the Pakistani military planners is the collaboration between India and Afghanistan to destroy Pakistan,” said a senior Pakistani government official involved in strategic planning who insisted on anonymity in accordance with diplomatic rules. “Some people feel the United States is colluding in this.”..

The Herald Tribune is too polite to say it, for some reason, but we all know which map he’s talking about. It’s the one in this post, the one risible carta de’ll oro wingnut Ralph Peters crapped into the public water supply back in October, 2006 in this article. The map is here; personally, I still can’t get past the fact he proposed a complete re-drawing of every border in South-West Asia but couldn’t bring himself to do anything about Palestine, but left it as “status undetermined”. That’s a hard one, Miss! Not fair!

Deeds have consequences, and so do words. Now, it looks like more people are going to die in northwestern Pakistan because of fucknuts Peters’ shitty little effort. I guess he doesn’t particularly care about Subedar Khan of the Frontier Corps, or his opposite number in the North Waziristan Not-The-Taliban; but didn’t he give any thought to the actual US soldiers in ISAF Regional Command East? I often wonder whether blogs in general put too much time and effort into arguing with idiots. “Someone is wrong on the Internet”, indeed.

But of course it’s worth it; or the buggers will just keep ralphing away. Political maniacs of every stripe have a weird fondness for fantasy cartography – it’s probably a relic of sympathetic magic, or else a sort of military cargo cult. If I stick pins in enough maps, perhaps someone will actually follow the orders.

Relatedly, it looks like some of the general enemy have also concluded that the e-mail bomber approach failed them in the presidential election campaign. I’ve described it elsewhere as an airpower theory approach to politics – you build a big centralised machine to deliver talking points, hurtling over an unresisting political landscape devoid of agency, and the best bit is that it’s capital intensive. You don’t need an army of volunteers – just money.

The GOP is the talk-radio party — for the most part, it’s centralized, top-down. Even though Rush Limbaugh is “perhaps the best exponent of across-the-board conservatism,” as Ruffini wrote, “he has no lists and no way to mobilize his audience directly to donate and volunteer.” (But it must be noted that Limbaugh urged his Republican listeners to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Indiana’s open primary to prolong the Democratic duel. And Clinton won.)

The Democrats, meanwhile, are the party of the Web: decentralized, chaotic, bottom-up. The bloggers at, for example, argue about policy and ideology, too. But all that blogging leads to raising money, which leads to organizing, which leads to having a say in the party. When Howard Dean, whose presidential primary campaign was largely funded by online donors, was elected DNC chairman in 2005, there was no doubt that a new Democratic era had arrived.

But clout didn’t come overnight for the Democratic “netroots.” In a way, its influence was predicated on being independent of the party. Says Jerome Armstrong, who created the liberal blog MyDD in 2001: “The netroots is not the DNC. The netroots challenges the DNC.” A similar dynamic needs to occur between the rightroots and the RNC, bloggers such as Ruffini and Finn say. The rightroots should push their party’s leadership and entrenched consulting class the same way the netroots lashed the Democratic leadership years ago.

Whether a party that’s spent the last 30 or so years specialising in attracting the fat tail on the social authoritarianism curve is structurally capable of doing that is another matter, and I think we shall soon see the answer. Similarly, whether a party so given intellectually to the rhetoric of authoritarianism would survive such a change in any recognisable form seems doubtful.

Still, survival is optional. If they want to start a US Christian Democratic Union, more power to their elbow – whatever happens, one day they’ll be back, and on that day it will make a big difference whether the “they” is a zombie version of the party of 2004 or, well, something less stupid, destructive, and fanatical.

And if there is anything that the last 11 years of British politics will tell you, it’s that a democracy where you can’t responsibly vote for the other lot and remain a decent human being has a problem. At some point, he’ll come up with something so stupid and abhorrent to some peculiar interest of yours that you’ll sweat purple piss (they all do), and it’s at that point you’ll see the value of opposition.

  1. Comment

    It’s amazing that a doofus like Ralph Peters could be factor in world affairs. His subliterate bellicose rants in the NY Post are a complete

  2. Cincinnatus, Jr.

    While(st) I find Peters tiresome and often wrong, it is humo(u)rous in the extreme to read this and the one comment thus far that talk of Peters in terms like “subliterate,” rant etc. given the apparent inability of the posters to string more than about 3 words together without some profanity or ad hominem attack.

    • yorksranter

      Well, I should probably write a fuller piece In Defence of the Ad Hominem, but here goes.

      I personally think that the traditional objection to ad hominem is not particularly useful. There are two reasons for this.

      1) Past performance is a guide to future performance when it comes to individuals. Without ad hominem, there is no role for responsibility. Without the heuristic that so-and-so is frequently talking nonsense, everything they say has to be assessed afresh.

      2) Treating all arguments any actor puts forwards as unaffected by their past statements is a courtesy that relies on the assumption of good faith. It fails if the actor is trying to deceive you, and therefore is entirely inappropriate for the rough and tumble of politics, where such a scenario happens a dozen times in an average morning.

      If someone is evil, stupid, or dishonest, they forfeit this courtesy. It is entirely right just to filter the noise. It is entirely fair to point out that someone has consistently been wrong before; indeed, it is a public service.

      Also, there is a double standard here. Victor Davis Hanson, for example, is still taken seriously despite the fact he has been just as wrong as Peters for at least the last 10 years. The only defensible reason for this is that he once, in the distant past, wrote a book some people consider worthwhile. Surely, we cannot accord Hanson the courtesy of a hearing based on his reputation, and also accept Peters on the basis that his reputation counts for nothing.

      Further, if ad hominem is undesirable, what about the argument from style? If you can’t throw out Ralph Peters’ arguments on the grounds that he is an idiot, a supporter of various policies that if implemented would constitute crimes against international humanitarian law, and a consistent purveyor of really terrible advice, you surely can’t throw out anyone else’s arguments without considering their content on the grounds that they were insufficiently polite.

      • yorksranter

        I agree that was rather long. I therefore offer the following “shorter”: Ralph Peters can fuck off.

  3. Cincinnatus, Jr.

    Point made yet again. Like a proverbial gift that keeps on giving.

    • yorksranter

      I could further make the point that, formally, my argument in this post is not at all an ad hominem. I have no objection to Ralph Peters, biological entity – I object strongly to his work, and I suspect that any further writings of his will be no better.

  4. Cincinnatus, Jr.

    We are now in a veritable circular dance. I have little patience or respect for Peters writing so suffice it to say we disagree on the manner in which you express yourself. Call me old fashioned (or even pre-modernist)…

    • yorksranter

      In that case, all we disagree about is tactics. I believe that the publicists who share responsibility for the war with Iraq should be driven out of public life by sustained ridicule, you believe that they will eventually be convinced by reasons.

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