maybe we can hire Saddam back

via Kevin comes a breathtaking example of hubris masquerading as policy - Ralph Peters suggests a solution to combating the guerilla opposition in Iraq:

We need to have the guts to give at least one terrorist haven a stern lesson as an example to the others. Fallujah is the obvious choice.

If the populace continues to harbor our enemies and the enemies of a healthy Iraqi state, we need to impose strict martial law. Instead of lavishing more development funds on the city - bribes that aren't working - we need to cut back on electricity, ration water, restrict access to the city and organize food distribution through a ration card system. And we need to occupy the city so thickly that the inhabitants can't step out of their front doors without bumping into an American soldier.

Don't worry about alienating the already alienated. Make an example of them. Then see how the other cities respond. Such an experiment would be expensive. But strategic victories don't come cheap.
We're overdue to take a lesson from the Romans and the British before us and recognize the value of punitive expeditions....One key lesson we should draw about expeditionary warfare in the Age of Terror is that we need not feel obliged to rebuild every government we are forced to destroy....Exemplary punishment may be out of fashion, but it's one of the most enduringly effective tools of statecraft. Where you cannot be loved, be feared. Indeed, a classic punitive expedition may prove to be the perfect model for Syria.

Kevin rightly notes, "Short of installing a police state � and wouldn't that be ironic? � this kind of escalation by an occupying power never works. Never. " You can look to the disastrous policies of Sharon to see Exhibit A - and this is the model of occupier-occupied that Peters thinks needs to be extended to the entire Middle East?

This kind of ivory tower ahistorical power fantasy is not new coming from Peters, however. Via SDB's polemical archive of "essential" essays, is an earlier essay that Peters wrote that argues, "Stability, America's Enemy" :

At present, a portion of the armed forces of the United States is mired in stability operations that simply bide time in the hope that somehow things will come out right, while an even greater portion is focused on avenging the recent terrorist attacks against America. We may wish all of these endeavors Godspeed, yet it would be a disservice to the men and women in uniform not to ask how we have come to this pass. Self-examination in the strategic sphere has not been an American strength. Perhaps it is time to make it one.

Meanwhile, we deny causes, ignore unpleasant realities, put on our flak jackets, and hope for the best. Certainly we should not replace stability operations with "instability operations" to provoke or accelerate change beyond its local, organic pace. And we must differentiate between unpopular terrorist groups and genuine mass movements: There is a great difference between the vicious Basque terrorists of the ETA and the African National Congress that triumphed over apartheid. All dissident organizations are not equally legitimate.

But we do need to stop providing life-support to terminally ill governments, and we must be open to new, unprecedented solutions, from plebiscites that alter borders to emergent or re-emergent forms of administration in failed states, whether enlightened corporate imperialism or post-modern tribalism. If the corporation can manage more humanely than the dictator, why not give it a chance? If the tribe can govern more effectively than a thieving, oppressive government, why not let the tribe reclaim its own land?

Note that the latter essay does actually have much that is agreeable, but Peters has a tendency to simply wave his hands and assert that the chaos of instability will indeed work out for the best. He's guilty of his own accusation - and his proposal to impose martial law on Falluja certainly flies in teh face of his own thesis.

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