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Friday, June 3, 2011

“We are going the wrong way”— Sy Hersh

Horrible mistakes unseen though right in front of us

There’s a large body of evidence, including some of America’s most highly classified intelligence assessments, suggesting that the U.S. could be in danger of repeating a mistake similar to the one made with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq eight years ago—allowing anxieties about the policies of a tyrannical regime to distort our estimates of the state’s military capacities and intentions. Seymour M. Hersh article in June 6, 2011, edition of The New Yorker Magazine

Editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett

Today’s edition of Democracy Now— Hersh segment
U. S.’s Iran policy Bush through Obama

As much as President Obama is “following policies of Bush and Cheney,” Hersh said on Democracy Now, the Pentagon really “sandbagged” the President “after he got into office, when he was new and innocent. …

“We’ve made Iran into a bogeyman” … yet there is “no evidence” that Iran is making nuclear weapons (“weaponization”). “There is “no real threat at all.”

“The more sophisticated [Israelis] and serious people in the intelligence community in Israel understand that Iran does not have a bomb now.” If Iran decides to get a bomb, “they are not going to throw it against Tel Aviv, because they know that would mean their annihilation.…

“We are making the Iranians the people responsible for what’s going on, in terms of the revolutions [but the U.S. is] really on the wrong side of history on that.…

Hersh on U.S. and the Saudis

We should be looking instead at the Saudis, Hersh said. However, “traditionally, we’ve been unable to pull the trigger on the Saudis. Even now, when confronted with heinous activity, we still cannot pull the trigger on the Saudis because of the need for oil. …”

The U.S. “would love for the Saudis to go to 11, 10-and-a-half and 11 billion barrels of oil a day.” That “would take pressure off the price” but Saudi Arabia at eight-and-a-half billion “is not agreeing to lift two or three more billion barrels a day.”  However “politically useful” the increase would be for the president, “it is not going to happen.”

Hersh on U.S. Afghanistan, Pakistan war(s)

Offensive incitement — “This is a war that has nothing to do with American national security. The obvious way out is to find a way to start talking to Mullah Omar, [instead of continuing to isolate] him.

“[W]e are driving Pakistan crazy with this war.
We are increasing the jihadism there.
We are increasing the terrorism there.
We are sticking it to the Pakistanis in very direct ways.”

Offense and backlash — “It is totally a counterproductive system. … We always call them NATO, and the press goes along with calling them NATO but U.S. Joint Special Operations Command is still going out … [and]  there’s no way you’re going to make strikes at night and not kill an awful lot of noncombatants. ‘Collateral damage,’ they call it.

“We are hated.
We are outsiders.
We do not have to be doing the bombs to be hated by the Pashtun; that has been the society all along.

“The Pakistanis are in terrible fear of what is going to happen in Afghanistan. They always see Afghanistan as bulwark against India. They are afraid of our relationship with India.”

Hersh on inaccessible presidency

“I would almost use the word ‘cult’ to describe what’s going on in the White House,” Hersh says. President Obama “is isolated. Very good people say they have never seen a president this isolated, in terms of being unable to get to him with different opinions….

“Captive of a few people” — and as strange as that sounds, Hersh said, “I know what I’m talking about.… People who have been involved in talking to Iran off the record, Track II policy talks, for years, cannot get to President Obama. He may not even know they are looking for him. …”

Here we have “this very bright guy continuing insane policies that are counterproductive and do nothing for the United States. Meanwhile, the real crisis is going to be about Iraq because, whatever you are hearing, Iraq is going bad … and the big question is going to be whether we pull out or not.”

Ripping apart

Iraq “is going to be probably the biggest problem the president has next year — along with gas, along with crazy Republicans running against him, along with Afghanistan, and along with Iran. We are going to be looking at Iraq — as it “goes berserk,” Hersh predicts.

“We are going the wrong way. It is a horrible mistake”; and though it is not being seen, it is happening right in front of us. “It is right there to be seen.”

Sources and notes

New Yorker Magazine
ABSTRACT excerpt:
“ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY about whether Iran’s nuclear program is being exaggerated. Is Iran actively trying to develop nuclear weapons? Members of the Obama Administration often talk as if this were a foregone conclusion, as did their predecessors under George W. Bush.

“There’s a large body of evidence, however, including some of America’s most highly classified intelligence assessments, suggesting that the U.S. could be in danger of repeating a mistake similar to the one made with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq eight years ago—allowing anxieties about the policies of a tyrannical regime to distort our estimates of the state’s military capacities and intentions.

“The two most recent National Intelligence Estimates (N.I.E.s) on Iranian nuclear progress have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003. Yet Iran is heavily invested in nuclear technology. In the past four years, it has tripled the number of centrifuges in operation at its main enrichment facility at Natanz, which is buried deep underground.

“International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) inspectors have expressed frustration with Iran’s level of cooperation, but have been unable to find any evidence suggesting that enriched uranium has been diverted to an illicit weapons program. In mid-February, Lieutenant General James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, provided the House and Senate intelligence committees with an updated N.I.E. on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. A previous assessment, issued in 2007, created consternation and anger inside the Bush Administration and in Congress by concluding, ‘with high confidence,’ that Iran had halted its nascent nuclear-weapons program in 2003. …

“Thomas E. Donilon, Obama’s national-security adviser, said in a speech on May 12th that the U.S. would continue its aggressive sanction policy until Iran proves that its enrichment intentions are peaceful and meets all its obligations under the nonproliferation treaty. Obama has been prudent in his public warnings about the consequences of an Iranian bomb, but he and others in his Administration have often overstated the available intelligence about Iranian intentions. …

“Israel views Iran as an existential threat. Nevertheless, most Israeli experts on nonproliferation agree that Iran does not now have a nuclear weapon. A round of negotiations five months ago between Iran and the West, first in Geneva and then in Istanbul, yielded little progress. …

“The unending political stress between Washington and Tehran has promoted some unconventional thinking. One approach, championed by retired ambassador Thomas Pickering and others, is to accept Iran’s nuclear-power program, but to try to internationalize it, and offer Iran various incentives. Pickering and his associates are convinced that the solution to the nuclear impasse is to turn Iran’s nuclear-enrichment programs into a multinational effort. … Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is now a candidate for the Presidency of Egypt, spent twelve years as the director-general of the I.A.E.A., retiring two years ago. In his recent interview, he said, ‘I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.’”

“Annals of National Security: Iran and the Bomb — How real is the nuclear threat?” (Seymour M. Hersh), June 6, 2011, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/06/06/110606fa_fact_hersh

On Democracy Now
“Seymour Hersh: Despite Intelligence Rejecting Iran as Nuclear Threat, U.S. Could Be Headed for Iraq Redux,” Democracy Now June 3, 2011. “In his latest article for The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says the United States might attack Iran based on distorted estimates of Iran’s nuclear and military threat—just like it did with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Hersh reveals that despite using Iranian informants and cutting-edge surveillance technology, U.S. officials have been unable to find decisive evidence that Iran has been moving enriched uranium to an underground weapon-making center,” http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/3/seymour_hersh_despite_intelligence_rejecting_iran

Seymour Hersh

Seymour (Sy) Myron Hersh (b. 1937) is a United States investigative journalist and author based in Washington, D.C.; and a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters. He has received a Pulitzer, two National Magazine Awards, five times a Polk, and in 2004, a George Orwell Award. In 2004, Hersh exposed the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in a series of pieces in The New Yorker magazine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Hersh;

Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei

Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei (b. June 17, 1942) is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat; and former (December 1997-November 2009) Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an inter-governmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations. ElBaradei and the IAEA jointly received the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. ElBaradei was also an important figure in the 2011 Egyptian protests, which culminated in the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_ElBaradei


Pashtun (also spelled Pushtun or Pakhtun, Hindustani  Pathan, Persian)  Afghan Pashto-speaking people of southeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.

Pashtun constitute the majority of the population of Afghanistan and bore the exclusive name of Afghan before that name came to denote any native of the present land area of Afghanistan [Britannica note].

Mullah Omar

Mullah Mohammed Omar (b. circa 1959, often called Mullah Omar) is the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan’s de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title ‘Head of the Supreme Council.’

He held the title Commander of the Faithful of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a title officially recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Omar

Tiananmen Square Massacre
Pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square crushed by Chinese military (June 3, 1989) 
 The Chinese government called in the military to put down a pro-democracy demonstration staged by more than 100,000 people in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Hundreds of people died. [Britannica]


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