The New Warrior Class

RALPH PETERS

© 1994 Ralph Peters


From Parameters, Summer 1994, pp. 16-26.

The soldiers of the United States Army are brilliantly prepared to defeat other soldiers. Unfortunately, the enemies we are likely to face through the rest of this decade and beyond will not be "soldiers," with the disciplined modernity that term conveys in Euro-America, but "warriors"--erratic primitives of shifting allegiance, habituated to violence, with no stake in civil order. Unlike soldiers, warriors do not play by our rules, do not respect treaties, and do not obey orders they do not like. Warriors have always been around, but with the rise of professional soldieries their importance was eclipsed. Now, thanks to a unique confluence of breaking empire, overcultivated Western consciences, and a worldwide cultural crisis,[1] the warrior is back, as brutal as ever and distinctly better-armed.

The primary function of any civilization is to restrain human excess, and even Slavic socialism served a civilizing mission in this regard. But as the restraints of contemporary civilization recede and noncompetitive cultures fracture, victim-states often do not have the forces, and the self-emasculated West does not possess the will, to control the new warrior class arising in so many disparate parts of the world. We have entered an age in which entire nations are subject to dispossession, starvation, rape, and murder on a scale approaching genocide--not at the hands of a conquering foreign power but under the guns of their neighbors. Paramilitary warriors--thugs whose talent for violence blossoms in civil war--defy legitimate governments and increasingly end up leading governments they have overturned. This is a new age of warlords, from Somalia to Myanmar/Burma, from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. In Georgia an ex-convict has become a kingmaker, and in Azerbaijan a warlord who marched on the capitol with a handful of wheezing armored vehicles became prime minister. In Chechnya, on the northern slopes of the Caucasus, a renegade general carved out the world's first state run entirely by gangsters--not the figurative gangsters of high Stalinism, but genuine black marketeers, murderers, drug dealers, and pimps.[2] Their warriors are the source of power for these chieftains, and the will of the populace, enervated and fickle, matters little when it matters at all.

This article will briefly consider who these new warriors are in terms of their social and psychological origins, and will examine the environment in which they operate. The objective is to provide an intellectual passport into the warrior's sullen world for US military officers and defense analysts, who, given their cultural and professional conditioning, would much rather deal with more conventional threats. This is an alert message from a very dark place.

Most warriors emerge from four social pools which exist in some form in all significant cultures. These pools produce warriors who differ in their individual implacability and redeemability. This differentiation is key to understanding warriors--who outwardly may appear identical to one another--and helps identify human centers of gravity within warrior bands or movements.

THE SOLDIER

THE WARRIOR

Sacrifice Spoils
Disciplined Semi or undisciplined
Organizational orientation Individualist
Skills focus on defeating other soldiers Skills focus directly on violence
Allegiance to state Allegiance to charismatic figure, cause, or paymaster
Recognized legal status Outside the law
"Restorer of order" "Destroyer of order"

Figure 1. Where the soldier and the warrior diverge--the traits that define them.

First-pool warriors come, as they always have, from the underclass (although their leaders often have fallen from the upper registers of society). The archetype of the new warrior class is a male who has no stake in peace, a loser with little education, no legal earning power, no abiding attractiveness to women,[3] and no future. With gun in hand and the spittle of nationalist ideology dripping from his mouth, today's warrior murders those who once slighted him, seizes the women who avoided him, and plunders that which he would never otherwise have possessed. Initially, the totemic effect of a uniform, however shabby and incomplete,[4] and the half-understood rhetoric of a cause lend him a notion of personal dignity he never sensed before, but his dedication to the cause is rarely as enduring as his taste for spoils. He will, however, cling to his empowering military garb. For the new warrior class, many of whose members possess no skills marketable in peace, the end of fighting means the end of the good times.

The longer the fighting continues, the more irredeemable this warrior becomes. And as society's preparatory structures such as schools, formal worship systems, communities, and families are disrupted, young males who might otherwise have led productive lives are drawn into the warrior milieu. These form a second pool. For these boys and young men, deprived of education and orientation, the company of warriors provides a powerful behavioral framework. Although some second-pool warriors can ultimately be gathered back into society, the average warrior who takes up a Kalashnikov at age 13 is probably not going to settle down to finish out his secondary school education ten years later without a powerful incentive.

The third pool of warriordom consists of the patriots. These may be men who fight out of strong belief, either in ethnic, religious, or national superiority or endangerment, or those who have suffered a personal loss in the course of a conflict that motivates them to take up arms. Although these warriors are the easiest to reintegrate into civil structures--especially if their experience of violence is relatively brief--some of these men, too, will develop a taste for blood and war's profits. These warriors are the most individualized psychologically, and their redeemability will depend on character, cultural context, and the depth of any personal loss, as well as on standard characteristics such as goal achievement in their conflict and perceived postwar opportunities for jobs and other societal rewards.

Dispossessed, cashiered, or otherwise failed military men form the fourth and most dangerous pool of warriors. Officers, NCOs, or just charismatic privates who could not function in a traditional military environment, these men bring other warriors the rudiments of the military art--just enough to inspire faith and encourage folly in many cases, although the fittest of these men become the warrior chieftains or warlords with whom we must finally cope. The greatest, although not the only, contemporary source of military men who have degenerated into warriors is the former Soviet Union. Whether veterans of Afghanistan or simply officers who lost their positions in post-collapse cutbacks, Russian and other former-Soviet military men currently serve as mercenaries or volunteers (often one and the same thing) in the moral wasteland of Yugoslavia and on multiple sides in conflicts throughout the former Soviet Union. These warriors are especially dangerous not only because their skills heighten the level of bloodshed, but also because they provide a nucleus of internationally available mercenaries for future conflicts. Given that most civil wars begin with the actions of a small fraction of the population (as little as one percent might actively participate in or support the initial violence),[5] any rabid assembly of militants with cash will be able to recruit mercenary forces with ease and spark "tribal" strife that will make the brutality of Africa in the 1960s seem like some sort of Quaker peaceable kingdom.

Paradoxically, while the warrior seeks to hold society out of equilibrium for his own profit, he thus prevents society from offering him any alternative to the warrior life. In our century of massive postwar demobilizations, most receiving governments retained sufficient structure to absorb and assist their ex-soldiers. Helpfully, the soldiers of the great armies of the West rarely tasted war's spoils as does the warrior; rather, soldiers experienced war's sacrificial side. But the broken states in which warriors currently control the balance of power do not have the infrastructure to receive veterans and help them rebuild their lives. In many cases, the warrior's roots have been torn up and, since he is talented only at violence, his loyalty has focused on his warlord, his band of fellow warriors, or, simply, on himself.[6] Even should the miracle of peace descend on the ruins of Yugoslavia, the survivor states will be unable to constructively absorb all of the warriors who have fallen away from civilized norms--and the warriors themselves often will have no real interest in being absorbed. In the Caucasus and Afghanistan, in Nicaragua and Haiti, warriors without wars will create problems for a generation.

In the centuries before the rise of modern professional armies, the European world often faced the problem of the warrior deprived of war. In the 16th century--another age of shattered belief systems--disbanded imperial armies spread syphilis and banditry across the continent, and the next century's Thirty Years War--waged largely by warriors and not by soldiers as we know them--saw the constant disbanding and reformation of armies, with the Soldateska growing ever more vicious, unruly, and merciless.[7] Arguably modern Europe's greatest trauma, the Thirty Years War formally ended in 1648, but its warriors continued to disrupt the continent until they found other wars in which to die, were hacked to death by vengeful peasants, or were hunted down like beasts by authorities who finally had caught their breath. Today's warriors have a tremendous advantage over their antique brethren in the struggle for survival, however: the West's pathetic, if endearing, concern for human life, even when that life belongs to a murderer of epic achievement.

For the US soldier, vaccinated with moral and behavioral codes, the warrior is a formidable enemy. Euro-American soldiers in general learn a highly stylized, ritualized form of warfare, with both written and customary rules. We are at our best fighting organized soldieries who attempt a symmetrical response. But warriors respond asymmetrically, leaving us in the role of redcoats marching into an Indian-dominated wilderness. Despite the valiant and skilled performance of the US Army Rangers, our most significant combat encounter in Mogadishu looks just like Braddock's defeat--and Russian regulars were recently "Little Big Horned" in Tajikistan by tribesmen who slipped across the Afghan border.

While the US Army could rapidly devastate any band of warriors on a battlefield, few warlords will be foolish enough to accept such a challenge. Warriors usually stand and fight only when they know or believe they have an overwhelming advantage. Instead, they snipe, ambush, mislead, and betray, attempting to fool the constrained soldiers confronting them into alienating the local population or allies, while otherwise simply hunkering down and trying to outlast the organized military forces pitted against them. US soldiers are unprepared for the absolute mercilessness of which modern warriors are capable, and are discouraged or forbidden by their civilian masters and their own customs from taking the kind of measures that might be effective against members of the warrior class.

The US experience with warriors in Somalia has not been a happy one, but the disastrous UN experience in Yugoslavia has been worse.[8] Imagining they can negotiate with governments to control warrior excesses, the United Nations and other well-intentioned organizations plead with the men-in-suits in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo to come to terms with one another. But the war in Bosnia and adjacent regions already has degenerated to a point where many local commanders obey only orders which flatter them. Should a peace treaty ever come to signature, the only way to make it work will be for those forces loyal to the central authorities to hunt down, disarm, and if necessary kill their former comrades-in-arms who refuse to comply with the peace terms. Even then, "freedom fighters," bandits, and terrorists will haunt the mountain passes and the urban alleys for years to come.

On the West Bank of the Jordan and in Gaza, the newly legitimized Palestinian authorities face formidable problems with two lost generations, unskilled or de-skilled, whose heroes answer offers of dialog with terror and for whom compromise appears equivalent to prostitution. Without the Intifada, many Palestinians, from teenagers to the chronologically mature, have no core rationale for their lives. At a virtually immeasurable cultural remove, Irish Republican Army terrorists are heroes only until the counties of Northern Ireland find peace. In Sri Lanka, many Tamil rebels will never be able to return to productive lives in a settled society--nor will many of the Khmer Rouge, Philippine communists, Angola's UNITA rebels, or any of Africa's other clan-based warriors masquerading behind the rank and trappings of true soldiers.[9] Even in the United States, urban gang members exhibit warrior traits and may be equally impossible to reconcile to civilized order as it is generally valued in Euro-America. For the warrior, peace is the least-desirable state of affairs, and he is inclined to fight on in the absence of a direct, credible threat to his life. As long as the warrior believes he can survive on the outside of any new peace, he will view a continuation of warfare through criminal means as the most attractive alternative. And there is good reason for the warrior to decline to lay down his arms--the most persistent and ruthless warriors ultimately receive the best terms from struggling governments. Indeed, they sometimes manage to overthrow those governments and seize power when the governments tumble into crisis after failing to deliver fundamental welfare and security to the population.[10]

In addition to those warriors whose educations--however rudimentary--were interrupted, men who fall into the warrior class in adulthood often find their new situation far more pleasant than the manual labor for subsistence wages or chronic unemployment to which peace had condemned them. The warrior milieu allows pathetic misfits to lead lives of waking fantasy and remarkable liberties. Unlike organized militaries, paramilitary bands do not adhere to rigorous training schedules, and when they need privies, they simply roust out the locals at gunpoint and tell them where to dig. In the Yugoslav ruins, for instance, many of the patriotic volunteers (identical, whether Serb, Croat, or Bosnian Muslim) find that war gives them leisure, choice, and recognition, as well as a camaraderie they never knew in the past. The unemployed Lumpenproletarier from Mostar or Belgrade can suddenly identify with the action-video heroes he and his comrades admire between raids on villages where only women, children, and old men remain.

In Armenia, during a period of crisis for Nagorno-Karabakh, I encountered a local volunteer who had dyed his uniform black and who proudly wore a large homemade swastika on his breast pocket, even though his people had suffered this century's first genocide.[11] The Russian mercenaries who rent out their resentment over failed lives almost invariably seek to pattern themselves after Hollywood heroes, and even Somalia's warlords adorn themselves with Anglo nicknames such as "Jess" or "Morgan."[12] This transfer of misunderstood totems between cultures has a vastly more powerful negative effect on our world than the accepted logic of human behavior allows. But, then, we have entered an age of passion and illogic, an era of the rejection of "scientific" order. That is exactly what the pandemic of nationalism and fundamentalism is about. We are in an instinctive, intuitive phase of history, and such times demand common symbols that lend identity and reduce the need for more intellectualized forms of communication. Once, warriors wore runic marks or crosses on their tunics--today, they wear T-shirts with Madonna's image (it is almost too obvious to observe that one madonna seems to be as good as another for humanity). If there are two cultural artifacts in any given bunker in the Bosnian hills, they are likely to be a blond nude tear-out and a picture of Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.[13] Many warriors, guilty of unspeakable crimes, develop such a histrionic self-image that they will drop just about any task to pose for a journalist's camera--the photograph is a totem of immortality in the warrior's belief system, which is why warriors will sometimes take the apparently illogical step of allowing snapshots of their atrocities. In Renaissance Europe (and Europe may soon find itself in need of another renaissance), the typical Landsknecht wanted money, loot, women, and drink. His modern counterpart also wants to be a star.[14]

Worldwide, the new warrior class already numbers in the millions.[15] If the current trend toward national dissolution continues, by the end of the century there may be more of these warriors than soldiers in armies worthy of the name. While exact figures will never be available, and statistics-junkies can quibble endlessly as to how many warriors are really out there, the forest looks dark and ominous enough without counting each last tree. And perhaps the worst news comes right out of Macbeth: the trees are moving.

Warrior-mercenaries always moved. Irishmen fought for France, Scots for Sweden, and the Germans sold their unwashed swordarms to everyone from Palermo to Poland. But today's improved travel means allow warriors deprived of "their" war to fly or drive to the next promising misfortune. Mujahedeen from Afghanistan, recently adored by Americans, have turned up in Azerbaijan,[16] and Russian brawlers with military educations are fighting in Bosnia, Croatia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan, and as enforcers for the internationalizing Russian mafia. One of the most intriguing characters I've met in the Caucasus was an ethnic-Armenian citizen of Lebanon who had been trained by the PLO in the Bekaa Valley to fight Turkic Azeris in Karabagh. The Azeri warriors he faced have been trained by entrepreneurial Russians, exasperated Turks, and reportedly by Iranians and Israelis.[17] In Bosnia, mustered out Warsaw Pact soldiers serve in the same loosely organized units as adventure-seeking Germans and Frenchmen.[18] In this regard, it might be in the interests of surrounding countries to let the fighting in Bosnia stew on: when that pot cools there is going to be a lot of unattractive spillage. Yugoslavia and the wars on Russia's crumpled frontiers are vast training grounds for the warriors who will not be content without a conflict somewhere. While most warriors will attempt to maintain their privileges of violence on their own territory, within their own linguistic groups, the overall number of warriors is growing so quickly that even a small percentage migrating from trouble spot to trouble spot could present a destabilizing factor with which we have yet to reckon.

The US Army will fight warriors far more often than it fights soldiers in the future. This does not mean the Army should not train to fight other organized militaries--they remain the most lethal, although not the most frequent, threat. But it would be foolish not to recognize and study the nasty little men who will haunt the brutal little wars we will be called upon to fight within the career spans of virtually every officer reading this text.[19]

There are quite a few realistic steps we might take to gain a better grasp on these inevitable, if unwanted, opponents. First, we should begin to build an aggregate data base that is not rigidly compartmented by country and region. We may deploy to the country where Warlord X has carved out his fief, or we may meet him or his warriors on the soil of a third-party state.[20] The future may create allegiances and alliances which will confound us, but if we start now to identify likely players, that drab, laborious, critical labor may pay significant dividends one day. As a minimum, if we start files on warrior chieftains now, we will have richer background files on a number of eventual heads of state. Such a data base will be a tough sell in a time of shrinking staffs and disappearing budgets, and analysts, accustomed to the luxury of intellectual routine, will rebel against its challenge and uncertainty. But in practical terms, studying potential opponents of this nature now will pay off on two counts: first, when we fight we will be more likely to know whom we're fighting; second, the process of compiling such a data base will build human expertise in this largely neglected field.[21]

We also need to struggle against our American tendency to focus on hardware and bean-counting to attack the more difficult and subtle problems posed by human behavior and regional history. For instance, to begin to identify the many fuses under the Caucasus powderkeg, you have to understand that Christian Armenians, Muslim (and other) Kurds, and Arabs ally together because of their mutual legacy of hatred toward Turks. The Israelis support Turkic peoples because Arabs support the Christians (and because the Israelis are drawn to Caspian oil). The Iranians see the Armenians as allies against the Turks, but are torn because Azeri Turks are Shi'a Muslims.[22] And the Russians want everybody out who doesn't "belong." Many of these alignments surprise US planners and leaders because we don't study the hard stuff. If electronic collection means can't acquire it, we pretend we don't need it--until we find ourselves in downtown Mogadishu with everybody shooting at us.

We need to commit more of our training time to warrior threats. But first we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Do we have the strength of will, as a military and as a nation, to defeat an enemy who has nothing to lose? When we face warriors, we will often face men who have acquired a taste for killing, who do not behave rationally according to our definition of rationality, who are capable of atrocities that challenge the descriptive powers of language, and who will sacrifice their own kind in order to survive. We will face opponents for whom treachery is routine, and they will not be impressed by tepid shows of force with restrictive rules of engagement. Are we able to engage in and sustain the level of sheer violence it can take to eradicate this kind of threat? To date, the Somalia experience says "No."

Although there are nearly infinite variations, this type of threat generally requires a two-track approach--an active campaign to win over the populace coupled with irresistible violence directed against the warlord(s) and the warriors. You cannot bargain or compromise with warriors. You cannot "teach them a lesson" (unless you believe that Saddam Hussein or General Aideed have learned anything worthwhile from our fecklessness in the clinch). You either win or you lose. This kind of warfare is a zero-sum game. And it takes guts to play.

Combatting warriors will force us to ask fundamental questions about ourselves as well as about our national and individual identities and values. But the kind of warfare we are witnessing now and will see increasingly in the future raises even more basic issues, challenging many of the assumptions in which liberal Western culture indulges. Yugoslavia alone raises issues that have challenged philosophers and college freshmen since the first professor faced a student. What is man's nature? Are we really the children of Rousseau and of Benetton ads, waiting only for evil governments to collapse so that our peaceable, cotton-candy natures can reveal themselves? Or are we killing animals self-organized into the disciplinary structures of civilization because the alternative is mutual, anarchic annihilation? What of all that self-hobbling rhetoric about the moral equivalency of all cultures? Isn't it possible that a culture (or religion or form of government) that provides a functional combination of individual and collective security with personal liberties really does deserve to be taken more seriously than and emulated above a culture that glorifies corruption, persecutes nonbelievers, lets gunmen rule, and enslaves its women? Is all human life truly sacred, no matter what crimes the individual or his collective may commit?

Until we are able to answer such questions confidently, the members of the new warrior class will simply laugh at us and keep on killing.


NOTES

1. See Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs, 72 (Summer 1993), 22-49, for a brilliant, courageous analysis of this metastasizing cultural crisis. Huntington was subsequently attacked in print by whole tribes of pygmies, none of whom made a dent in his thesis. See also my article, "Vanity and the Bonfires of the 'isms," Parameters, 23 (Autumn 1993), 39-50.

2. For background on the Chechens, see Marie Bennigsen Broxup, ed., The North Caucasus Barrier (London: Hurst and Company, 1992), or, for a fascinating historical perspective, Sh. V. Megrelidze, Zakavkaze v Russko-Turetskoy Voine (Tbilisi: Metsniyereba, 1972). In fairness, it must be noted that the peoples of the North Caucasus generally view Djokar Dudayev's Grosny government in a markedly positive light, crediting him as a patriot and capable organizer, as was brought home to me by Dr. Zaur Dydymov, the energetic and talented Head of the Juridical Department of the Daghestan Republic Council of Ministers.

3. As a draft of this article circulated, nothing excited so much comment as this phrase. In general, the otherwise positive puritanism of the US officer corps and Foreign Service cripples our ability to understand some starkly fundamental human motivations. We fear the hurricane of biology nearly as much as we distrust intuition, barricade ourselves behind the quantifiable, and practice Jomini even as we quote poor translations of Clausewitz (US officers have no sense of Clausewitz's Promethean Romanticism but sense that there's nonetheless some sort of uncomfortable darkness about the guy). Confronted with "rape cultures," such as those of Slavic Orthodoxy or Sub-Saharan Africa, we recoil to concentrate on the local traits that bear a reassuring resemblance to our own behavioral structures--not on the crucial differences.

4. The government of Croatia chose the US Battle Dress Uniform for its military, not least for its evocative associations. A visit to the provisional military museum in downtown Zagreb provides a wealth of stimulating images, among them the World War II Croatian military's aping of Wehrmacht uniforms (Bundeswehr dress uniforms are still in vogue), and the 1990s look for front line and COMMZ, the all-American BDU. The reasons for such choices and tendential shifts are worth another article, at least.

5. For a classic study of how the bold, ruthless few drive the many, see Joachim C. Fest, Hitler, Volume One, Der Aufsteig (Frankfurt/M: Verlag Ullstein, 1973). Also, the various writings of Sebastian Haffner on the rise and appeal of National Socialism; Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht; any serious work on the 1917 Bolshevik coup. Sociopolitical earthquakes, from the Reformation to the American Revolution, rarely have the active support of even one percent of the population in their germinal phases. The majority of military coups in the non-competitive world also involve far less than one percent of the population in their mechanisms. For nonpolitical, nonmilitary examples of the tyranny of tiny, self-absorbed minorities over the mass, consider the impoundment of own cultural upper register by various activist groups. Intriguingly, current research in the field of complexity offers a scientific demonstration of how the activity of seemingly inconsequential variables can spark immeasurably disproportionate reactions.

6. Especially for US Army officers and diplomats, this century's great forgotten revolution and civil war--the Mexican experience--merits study. An entry-level work is Ramon Eduardo Ruiz, The Great Rebellion, Mexico, 1905-1924 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1980). For a superb group portrait of "warriors," read Mariano Azuela's out-of-print novel, The Underdogs, which provides remarkable insights into how Mexico's revolutionary warriors degenerated.

7. Ricarda Huch, Der Dreissigjaehrige Krieg (Frankfurt/M: Insel Verlag, 1912, 1914). Although Huch--the only major German historian to defy Hitler--is stylistically out of fashion, this monumental work presents the richest picture ever encountered by this author of how extended wars infected with a religious (read also "nationalist or ethnic") bias can annihilate moral and social orders. No one who has read this work could fail to be haunted by its images. Also, Golo Mann, Wallenstein (Frankfurt/M: S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, 1971), or, for English-only readers, the classic, and classically restrained, study by C. V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (London: Johnathan Cape, 1938). A study of the Thirty Years War is essential to understanding modern continental Europe, why Euro-Americans make war in such a stylized fashion, and why we are so nonplussed by events in former Yugoslavia.

8. Personal conversations with UNPROFOR and UNHCR officers in Croatia, January-February 1994.

9. For a striking, highly readable, and provocative account, see Robert D. Kaplan, "The Coming Anarchy," The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994. Kaplan is willing to take physical and intellectual risks most American journalists shun. His book, Balkan Ghosts, offers a fine, quick introduction to a region we will still fail to understand after US troops have been there for a decade or two.

10. This happened in 1993, in Azerbaijan, with the Huseinov coup, although the primary coupmaker has been marginalized for now.

11. Many Armenian Fidayeen militiamen wear black uniforms with white Armenian crosses--a very different matter.

12. For the best reporting that came out of the US intervention in Somalia, see the series of articles by Sean Naylor, then by Katherine McIntire, in Army Times, between January and March 1993. These two reporters avoided the Mogadishu trap and went down-country to get the story the remainder of the media missed. Their work represents remarkable journalism from an often-overlooked source.

13. See the extensive 1992 and 1993 reporting by Der Spiegel, with its frequent character studies of the participants in the latest Balkan War.

14. Again, this is the sort of motivational issue with which US officers and analysts are ill-prepared to cope. Prisoners of rationalism at its most pedestrian, we are simply not alert to the "irrational" cultures and individuals covering most of this planet.

15. A country-by-country assessment of extant and potential warriors yields round numbers well into the millions--at the most conservative count. Not only are many African military establishments filled with warriors and not soldiers as we know them (see Kaplan again), but the pools of potential warriors in the former Soviet empire and in China reach into the tens of millions.

16. See Hurriyet, Istanbul, 23 December 1993, "Turkey to lift the arms embargo against Azerbaijan." Also, from the Armenian side, SNARK reports of 16 December 1993; Radio Yerevan (Azeri broadcast), 31 January 1994; Aragil Electronic News Bulletin, 10 February 1994, all Yerevan.

17. Multiple reports, Russian, Azeri, Armenian, and Turkish press.

18. Der Spiegel, as above.

19. For an incisive survey of the historical dimensions of the problem, see Great Powers And Little Wars, ed. A. Hamish Ion and E. J. Errington (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1993).

20. A daintily ignored aspect of this is that ethnic cleansing works as a solution to ethno-national competition. For all the attendant misery, the expulsion of ethnic Germans from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and Czechoslovakia after 1945 brought regional stability, as did the post-World War I expulsion of the Greeks from Anatolia. From the dispersion of the Jewish people by Roman legionnaires to the near-extermination of the Plains Indians, history is swollen with examples of brutal ethnic cleansing that ultimately accomplished its purpose--making the world safe for ethnocracy. Just because something is loathsome doesn't mean it isn't effective.

21. Given the fluid nature of the warrior problem, this may appear to be an impossible mission--yet, there is no practical alternative.

22. Magda Neiman, Armyanye (St. Petersburg: 1898); S. T. Zolyan and G. K. Mirzoyan, Nagorney Karabakh i Vokryg Nyevo (Yerevan: 1991); Artem Ohandjanian, Armenien (Wien: Boehlau, 1989); the classic Deutschland und Armenien, 1914-1918, Samlung Diplomatischer Aktenstuecke, assembled by Dr. Johannes Lepsius (Potsdam: Tempelverlag, 1919); W. E. D. Allen and Paul Muratoff, Caucasian Battlefields (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1953); Christopher J. Walker, Armenia (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980); Ronald Grigor Suny, Looking Toward Ararat (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1993); Christopher J. Walker, ed., Armenia and Karabagh (London: Minority Rights Publications, 1991); Audrey L. Altstadt, The Azerbaijani Turks, (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Press, 1992). After all of the scholarly studies, this aspect of the Trans-Caucasian problem was best brought home to me by an Iranian diplomat who gave me a lift into Yerevan from the airport at one in the morning in the summer of 1992. He needed help carrying his diplomatic pouches. Delighted to speak with a US citizen, he repeatedly stressed the importance of "telling the Armenian story" in the West. In so much of the world, the political situation is vastly more complex than the vanity of the Department of State allows.


Major Ralph Peters is assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he is responsible for evaluating emerging threats. Prior to becoming a Foreign Area Officer for Eurasia, he served exclusively at the tactical level. He is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College and holds a master's degree in international relations. Over the past several years, his professional and personal research travels have taken Major Peters to Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Turkey, as well as various West European countries. He has published five books, as well as dozens of articles and essays on military and international concerns. This is his third article for Parameters.


Reviewed 26 February 1998. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil.