What if an adviser to one of the presidential candidates -- one who writes regularly for a major American newspaper and frequently appears on television -- had not just described residents of small-town America as "bitter," but had actually equated laid-off blue-collar workers with the Taliban?
What if this statement had not been just an off-the-cuff remark at a campaign event, but had actually been published in an official US government publication?
Specifically, what if he had said this:
"The American who graduated from high school in the 1960s expected a good job that would allow his family security and reasonably increasing prosperity. For many such Americans, the world has collapsed. . . . These discarded citizens (his emphasis) sense that their government is no longer about them, but only about the privileged. Some seek the solace of explicit religion."
"These noncompetitive cultures, such as that of Arabo-Persian Islam or the rejectionist segment of our own population, are enraged. . . . The laid-off blue-collar worker in America and the Taliban militiaman in Afghanistan are brothers in suffering."
Yes, you read that right. Laid-off American blue-collar workers are no different than the Taliban -- just two noncompetitive losers in the great game of globalization. And "bitter"? No, they're "enraged."
And it happened.
While doing research for another article this weekend, I ran across these and other rather astonishing quotes from Ralph Peters, a retired Army Lt. Col. and, according to thinkprogress.org, an informal national security adviser to the John McCain campaign. It kind of puts the hullabaloo surrounding Barack Obama's "small town bitterness" remark in a whole 'nother light. It makes that clumsy but rather minor gaffe look like child's play. You want "elitist," as McCain described those remarks, or "condescending," as described by a Hillary Clinton supporter? How about "callous," "contemptuous," or "cruel"? And unlike Samantha Power, the Obama foreign policy adviser who resigned after calling Clinton a "monster" in front of a reporter, this was not a spontaneous aside that Peters hoped would be kept off-the-record. This was written and issued in an official US Army publication.
The article was entitled "Constant Conflict," and it was published in the Summer 1997 issue of Parameters, the US Army War College Quarterly. Peters was then an Army Major working for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
Peters, now a spy novelist and columnist for Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, held nothing back in putting his spooky, Nietzchean ubermenschen worldview on display. Almost every paragraph contained an equally breathtaking remark. Here are a few more choice ones:
"We are entering a new American century, in which we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent."
"There will be more democracy -- that deft liberal form of imperialism -- and greater popular refusal of democracy."
"It is fashionable among world intellectual elites to decry "American culture," with our domestic critics among the loudest in complaint. But traditional intellectual elites are of shrinking relevance, replaced by cognitive-practical elites -- figures such as Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Madonna, or our most successful politicians -- human beings who can recognize or create popular appetites, recreating themselves as necessary. . . . 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."
"There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. . . . 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."
Dr. Strangelove, I presume.