Monday, April 10, 2006

Seymour Hersh's Blockbuster

Good investigatory reporting has an outside chance to make a difference.

It may be too much to say that it can change history; perhaps good and timely journalism has only a shot at nudging history.

Seymour Hersh has done that before with his historic breaking of the My Lai Massacre story in 1969, a Pulitzer Prize winner. His investigatory spotlight also lit up the Abu Ghraib prison story. His critics argue he has been more wrong than right. No one is right all of the time. But Hersh's track record is that some of the time, he has been very, very good in getting his story right. That should motivate us to focus on some of the highlights of his 7,000 word piece in the New Yorker.

  • Bush is ready to go to war to save Israel which has not yet been attacked and which can defend itself.
  • Bush has a messianic drive to save Iran from itself.
  • A preemptive attack on Iran will unify its disparate political elements.
  • Proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran may be only Bush's pretext for regime change.
  • We may already be at war with Iran if we have clandestine troops within its borders.
  • The use of tactical nuclear weapons for a preemptive war is a thinkable proposition for contemporary civilian war planners in the Pentagon. (Only a very few of my readers will remember how we debated with Herman Kahn in the 1960's the merits of his theory of tactical nuclear war.)
  • Ironically, one of the few brakes on this war mongering juggernaut (while Congress remains in GOP control) may come from the ranks of the professional military officer corps in the Pentagon.
  • In contemplating an air war to be waged against Iran, there does not seem to be any serious contingency planning for the most obvious repercussions: Iranian ground attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan; Hezbollah revivals on steroids throughout the Middle East; unification of the regional Shiites and Sunnis against us; dispersal of Iran's uranium outside her borders into the hands of whatever terrorists who get lucky.
If it is true that Bush and Cheney need a semi-conscious, semi-alert public and a comatose media in order to work their war-mongering machinations, Sy Hersh's blockbustering reporting might have nudged history a little by waking up both of them.

I submit that even if none of Hersh's nightmares materialize, he will not be discredited: not as long as there is a possibility that preemptive war was deterred or delayed by preemptive journalism.



  1. Based on Bush's (and McClellan's)response -- yesterday -- it sounds like Hersh came close to hitting it on the head.

    Sounded like Bush was in delay and obfusicate mode....

    Mr. Hersh ~ Well done, sir.

  2. Just when you think the Bush can't get any scarier he just goes out and proves me wrong.

  3. I am convinced that Bush will throw caution against the wind - again! - and move against Iran by November. By doing so, he can hope to stampede the American people electorally out of voting impeaching majorities in Congress. (Talk about wagging the dog!)

    With retired military brass taking indirect shots at Bush by whacking Rumsfeld, I find myself contemplating a military coup.

    I'm sure, in these circumstances, the Founding Fathers might approve.

    Can someone cheer me up?

  4. I am sorry, but I see nothing in the news that might give us any reason to hope the Idiot-in-Chief has any idea what an attack on Iran might bring to a seriously thin US military already under attack in Iraq. I wonder what the color of the clouds are in Bush's world?

  5. I'm encouraging my reader(s) to read John Aravosis' The Democratic Message on Iran!

  6. Our country has been hijacked, and it looks like we are on our way to Iran. Big Oil has control of our armed forces and is commandeering the Worlds' strongest military for its own private purposes.

    Once Iran is in the bag, the Persian Gulf will be entirely encircled by countries controlled by the U.S. We can expect an indefinite military occupation. Like GW said, the job of withdrawing from Iraq will be left to future administrations ("oops!! was the mike on when I said that?")

    The burgeoning U.S. aggression seems irrational, messianic even, from the standpoint of the American who thinks our country is being driven over a precipice. But Big Oil is rational. I just doesn't care about loss of life, or the destruction of our social infrastructure, or making the U.S. a global pariah. The mission is petrol and all that other stuff is just collateral damage.

    Bush may be the Messiah in his own mind, but that is only because he is starting to believe his own bullshit about spreading democracy.

    Hersh says that Bush believes he must finish the job in Iran because no future president, Democrat or Republican, would have the appetite for it. Bush has a good point. This administration is the Big Oil dream team. How many other Secretaries of State have oil tankers named after them, for chrissakes!

    As far as his Christian religiosity goes -- he is full of crap and he knows it. Which is a bit of a comfort to me, in an odd way.

    I am convinced that GW and the Religious Right are joined in a marriage of convenience. I find it interesting that Bush senior (not especially known for his Christian convictions) invited Billy Graham to the family compound soon after GW lost his first bid for govenorship of Texas. This, supposedly, was the moment that GW experienced his religious epiphany. Graham, in effect, "saved" GW from political extinction by promising him the Evangelical vote in exchange for Bush pushing the agenda of the Christian Right. Coincidentally, his brother Jeb got religion at about the same time, soon after he, too, suffered a political set-back. In Jeb's case, Catholicism seemed like the one true path to salvation (which, in fact, may have been true politically also, given that Florida is a state with large numbers of Catholic Cuban expats).

    Not everyone is as cynical about their religion as George and Jeb. The ranks of the crazy true-believers are enormous.They are powerful but also incredibly easy to manipulate. Ultimately it serves the purpose of Big Oil to inflame the religious fanatics, Christian and Muslim alike, because it causes useful discord.

  7. I think there are two very dangerous nuts loose in the world: Ahmadinejad and Bush. They are both very good at playing brinkmanship. The political power of each is shakily dependent on their sword rattling.

    But here's what worries me. When you say, looks like we are on our way to Iran. Big Oil has control of our armed forces and is commandeering the Worlds' strongest military for its own private purposes.

    Once Iran is in the bag, the Persian Gulf will be entirely encircled by countries controlled by the U.S. We can expect an indefinite military occupation...

    I think you are very accurately reading Bush's [our nut] mind. He thinks he can 'bag' Iran, when he hasn't even bagged Iraq. He doesn't seem to grasp the fact that an air war against Iran will have consequences on the ground! Of, course, that's never going to bother this fucked-up chickenhawk who's fully capable of saying 'bring it on' again!

    But the bottom line is that USA's A-Team is exhausted. Short of a draft, there's no way we can redeploy and contend with a hysterically angry nation of Shiites.

    As a retired four-star general told Hersh that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region,
    the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.

    Bush can't deliver on his commitment to keep nukes out of the hands of Iranians. Ahmadinejad - their nut - knows this and is just setting up Bush - our nut - for a monumental national embarrassment, much more colossal and catastrophic than our Iraqi pickle.

    More than Bush's success which you foresee, I fear what happens when Bush fails. And I think you know what I'm talking about: I don't have to spell out the F-word for you, do I?