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April 14, 2006

Seymour Hersh at Columbia University


Seymour Hersh
Originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

I saw Seymour Hersh speak at Columbia University's school of journalism this afternoon.

Hersh was speaking on a panel called "Reporting War." The discussion focused primarily on the ways that governments try to prevent accurate war reporting and the ways that media corporations enforce the will of these governments.

Hersh said some very chilling things about the prospect of Bush attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.

"Don't bet against him," Hersh said.

The natural temptation is to assume that Bush isn't serious. After all, no rational person would be serious about what Bush's minions are hinting at. And yet, as Hersh knows only too well, Bush has gone ahead and done things no reasonable person would do.

Agreed. With the conservative movement crashing down around Bush and failure staring him in the face, it's entirely possible that he might attack Iran with nukes rather than face his own failure.

Many thanks to Chris of Crayons to Chaos for inviting me.

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Comments

Did you happen to see any Pacifica types armed with microphones at the discussion? I wouldn't mind listening to the talk IAAP.

There were some folks with microphones, but I'm not sure if they were from Pacifica. If you find the audio online, please let me know and I'll post a link.

Wouldn't you rather nuke Iran now than have them nuke us in a few months?

Going for a banishment hat-trick before Easter limpy? :-)

So, you are a parody right? Riiiight? You can tell me. You're doing the Stuttering John of blogs thing, right? It'll be our little secret. I won't tell anyone. I plomise. I just can't believe that anyone is earnestly this stoopid.

"Don't bet against him" means to me that Hersh has sources in the Pentagon saying maybe a 75% chance that Bush uses nukes. With extreme pressure from retired generals and some resignations it comes down to 55%. I personally think it is 100%, and very soon.

The key word is "irrevocable." Bush wants to create conditions such that a President Finegold will have no choice but to continue the war against the Middle East, and we will have no choice but to support it. He also wants the tough stuff like the draft and taxes left to his successor.

Bush will be remembered for a thousand years, long after FDR and Kennedy are forgotten. He is changing the world.

In the meantime, have you got any more details on what Hersh had to say?

Got stuck in a hotel room the other night so I got to see some television. (Holy shit, tv just gets more fucking stupid every day!) Fox had a couple talking (air) heads debating just how much force was going to be required to deal with the "Iran problem". It seems the debate is being framed that way, i.e. Iran is a very, very grave menace and we'll have to do something, perhaps something drastic, sooner or later lest they get the bomb and hold the world hostage. The assumption, apparently, among the right-wing Chicken Littles is that Iran is the state equivalent of a suicide bomber. Iran is assumed to be run by fanatic religious mad dogs who are willing to cross the line from plain-vanilla belligerent zealotry to apocalyptic nihilism.
The warmongers need to get a shot of gin, a fresh pair of underwear and give it another think. Iran, just as any other country, is run by consensus. The parties to the consensus may be evil bastards, but genuine nihilists are likely to be a small minority among them. Your typical evil bastard is a self-serving coward whose ambitions do not include being piped to paradise through a mushroom cloud. Suppose Iran gets themselves a dozen fission or even fusion bombs. Suppose they are actually reckless enough to hand a few over to some genuine terrorist psychotics. They will, at that point, have to consider retaliation. (Remember MAD?)
If we had to, we could grind all of Iran into sand and fuse it into radioactive glass. Should Iran let the balloon go up, Israel will not hesitate to retaliate and the U.S. will not be far behind. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may fulminate about wiping Israel off the map and spout a heap of holocaust denial crap, but I’m guessing that the mullahs and their friends who have made very comfortable lives for themselves since the 1979 revolution and who make up the ruling consensus, will weigh the promised glory of paradise versus the fact of quotidian earthly existence and opt for the latter.

I agree cfrost. I think that Iran's regime is comfortable with supporting some amount of terrorism, and the guy blabs a lot of extremely offensive fire and brimstone, but I think their pursuit of nukes is defensive. I see them being cautious with them, like Russia and China were, though we worried so much about them (they never dropped one on anyone, after all). As mentioned elsewhere, I can't say the same thing about North Korea, who are paranoid. However, it did bring me up short to hear Lindsay using language about George Bush that makes him sound just like Kim Jong Il:

With the conservative movement crashing down around Bush and failure staring him in the face, it's entirely possible that he might attack Iran with nukes rather than face his own failure.

Though that didn't scare me like Bob did:

Bush will be remembered for a thousand years, long after FDR and Kennedy are forgotten. He is changing the world.

We've lived with ten of thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at us our entire lives, and have come close, through simple computer errors, to Armageddon on more than one occasion. And as far as terrorism is concerned, there are still thousands of essentially unsecured nuclear stockpiles in Russia and elsewhere around the world (a problem which doesn't seem to inspire any sense of urgency from our leaders.) Given the choice, you'd always prefer that one more nation didn't get the bomb; but why are we supposed to be in hysterics about Iran?

With the conservative movement crashing down around Bush and failure staring him in the face, it's entirely possible that he might attack Iran with nukes rather than face his own failure.

Absolutely. Admitting a mistake would, for him, be far worse than a war with catastrophic consequences for the whole world.

What I wonder is whether Rove would pull the plug if it became clear that war with Iran would be a political liability rather than an asset. If so, Rove would be the only person capable of saving us from this disaster--which is kind of amusing, in a slit-your-wrists-as-you-laugh kind of way.

I've thought we were screwed since February when I saw a poll saying that 8 in 10 Americans believe that if Iran had a bomb, they'd give it to terrorists to use against us. That is, the American people are scared into stupidity and will be suckers for Bush's "leadership,"

More extremely depressing news, that we needed to hear, though. Thanks janinsanfran.

LB very nice to take time and be there in person. I know you time is pecious; but the value of your opinion on the meeting
would be rewarding to your readers. Is their a tape of the meeting ? as asked above!
Will you have time to give some salient points of the discussion. Other implied points of view? " on nukem
before they nuke us " nice try.
They need six years to get a delivery system. Three to have a few crude low yield devices.
Others wade in ! Bunnies for Easter Honney ! lb.x,rtg et al...

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