Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, July 04, 2008

"In Their World, Iraq is Okay."

Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker piece "Preparing the Battlefield," about the Bush administration's "secret moves against Iran," has justifiably gotten a fair amount of attention. Read the article if you haven't. Meanwhile, here's some of Hersh on CNN, on NPR's Fresh Air and Democracy Now! Meanwhile, via Dan Froomkin, there's this gem caught by ThinkProgress (they have the video, too) from Hersh's conversation with Andrea Mitchell, after she asked Hersh about the possibility of the U.S. attacking (or supporting an attack on) Iran:

Hersh: "Oh, you know, how the hell do I know? . . . What I can tell you is we're loaded for bear. And we've been looking at it for three years... If Israel goes -- I'll tell you what Cheney says privately. . . . What he says privately is, 'We can't let Israel go because, first of all, they don't have the firepower, we do. We have much more firepower. And secondly, if they go, we'll be blamed anyway.'"

Froomkin cited others' opinions on the likelihood of an attack on Iran in his online discussion yesterday, as well as in his column today. I'll also pass on thoughts by Jill, Steve Audio and DDay.

While we definitely shouldn't stop scrutinizing the Bush administration on Iran (not to mention Iran itself), Iraq also bears watching. Not only do the administration's views on Iraq shape their attitudes toward Iran, their policy and rhetoric on Iraq is closely tied in as well. One section of Hersh's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air really leapt out at me. You can find it about 35 minutes in. Here's my transcription (with some verbal stutters omitted):

Terry Gross: I can't help but wonder, if Cheney or whoever else is considering a military strike against Iran, what they make of how things have turned out in Iraq, because some of the justifications and some of the tactics we've used so far in Iran seem to parallel Iraq, and I can't think of a lot of people who are happy with the outcome so far in Iraq. Plus, we've spent so much money, and have deployed so much of our military resources, including lots of the National Guard in Iraq, could we even afford to tie up more in Iran? But anyways, I can't help but wonder how Iraq is influencing people like Vice President Cheney now?

Seymour Hersh: You just have to listen to what they say. Because what they say is fascinating. We're actually winning. We're turning the corner. And we got rid of Saddam Hussein, and by any chance, that's a plus. Just listen to what they say. Because in their world, Iraq is okay. They've done something useful. And it's gonna be great. We're turning the corner, we're gonna solve the problems. The surge, quote unquote, worked. Never mind that the country is completely destroyed physically, and that ethnic cleansing… If you just read and listen to what they say, it's upbeat. So they don't see this mess they've created as a mess.

So the argument that why would they expand the war, we're not doing so well, into yet another country, they're not sure we're not doing so well.

Hersh goes on to mention one of the key elements of his article, how Cheney and others in the Bush administration kept Admiral Fallon in the dark about covert operations in the Middle East, despite that Fallon was slotted to oversee military operations there. There's also the recurring theme of Cheney micromanaging, and thinking he's a military genius. Oh, and a Democratic Congress giving Bush pretty much everything he wants.

Currently, the Bush administration and its allies – including Tony Blankley, David Brooks and Joe Lieberman are trying to sell the dangerous horseshit that Iraq is doing well and Bush's ongoing adventure was and is all worth it. We’ve already seen key members of the press eager to run with this, even though it's a shameless falsehood. As we’ve gone over many times, any decrease in violence, however momentary, is of course welcome, but the Iraq-is-getting-better crowd never discuss the 4-5 million displaced Iraqis, and rarely mention that the stated purpose of the "surge" was to buy time for political reconciliation that just hasn't come, and is by no means imminent. Bush's embassy staff in Iraq are claiming big progress, but those claims are highly suspect at best, and directly contradicted by the more independent Government Accountability Office.

For a more accurate picture of Iraq, one could check out a recent Tom Dispatch piece, "The Good News in Iraq (Don't Count on It)" or Juan Cole's "The Real State of Iraq" (this latter piece previously linked by QuestionGirl, and a more detailed examination of themes explored in our March piece, "The Surge is Still Not Working"). Then there's the McClatchy page for Iraq news, as well as our humble efforts in the BH and VS Iraq categories. Needless to say, Iraq is not okay. Nor are any Bush officials or their pundit supporters to be trusted for a moment and taken at face value when they claim otherwise. To sell a new war, they need to convince people that their previous, ongoing one is a success, the truth be damned. As for the press, besides wanted a new headline besides "Iraq is still in horrible straits," some of them probably want validation for being so disastrously wrong before. (Certainly unrepentant hawks such as Michael O'Hanlon fall in that camp.)

One of many freedoms in America has been the First Amendment, which includes freedom of speech and freedom of the press. There's a responsibility that comes with that freedom, especially when coupled with power. Thomas Jefferson once said that "If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter." As a whole, it's hard to argue that the press justify Jefferson's faith. But while David Broder, Richard Cohen and Charlie Gibson, among many others, fail miserably in that respect, there are other journalists, including Helen Thomas, Dana Priest, Lara Logan, Daniel Schorr and Seymour Hersh (among others) who exemplify how it should be done. As DDay put it in the post linked above:

…It's clear to me, as we approach July 4th, that there's no better patriot in this country than Seymour Hersh, taking on the job of 236 Democrats in the House and 50 in the Senate, trying to hold off this insanity for a few more months before transitioning into a new Adminstration which will hopefully recognize the broad consensus for negotiation and diplomacy with the Islamic Republic as opposed to the folly of war.

Indeed. Happy Independence Day, especially to the true patriots.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)


DCup said...

Great post, Batocchio. I bash the corporate media plenty, but thank goodness for Hersh and the others you name for working within the system of corporate media and not falling prey to the group think.

Swinebread said...

Thanks for the post,

this is important stuff, I'm glad I didn't miss it!

FranIAm said...

This is outstanding Batocchio.

And depressing.

I agree with the bits from Fresh Air that you excerpted.

Reality based thinking is not real to these people.

Comrade Kevin said...

I enjoyed the analysis.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this recently (and the obligatory scouring our nation's history to find a parallel.)

I find it deeply ironic that a country supposedly based on this idea that we ought to beware of foreign entanglements has managed to, even covertly, stick our nose into the affairs of other countries.

We then act all righteously indignant when said countries cry foul and/or launch attacks on us.

And in that spirit, I wonder how we're fighting a proxy war in Iran at the moment.

libhom said...

I'm still worried that the Bush regime will attack Iran in late November or December, after the elections.