Seymour Hersh and the War in Iran

Reading Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker is like reading a spy novel crossed with the blind items on Gawker; lots of dangerous intrigue by politicians, soldiers, and spies, some anonymous gossip, and more than a hint of something still unknown. He’s really in a class by himself with this kind of reporting.

In his latest piece, Hersh travels in the murky areas of the intelligence community to reveal America’s covert operations in Iran and the push, largely by Cheney, to enhance those operations and, it seems, provoke a war. It’s a fascinating article, as all of his writing for the New Yorker has been, and worth reading.

The situation in Iran is a difficult one. For all the obvious reasons, America does not need a war with Iran. With that said, Iran is clearly dangerous and they cannot be allowed to make a nuclear weapon. The Bush/Cheney approach of using Special Ops and indigenous surrogates to carry out attacks and assassinations, according to the article, has met with some resistance from the military and intelligence communities. What has worked in other parts of the Middle East and Pakistan, may not work so well in Iran. So what to do?

Elect Obama President. The reason? He will try to negotiate a legitimate settlement of this issue. If someone actually goes to the Iranians without a belligerent stance (Bush demands that they halt enrichment work before negotiations can start), it might – might – settle the issue. And if it doesn’t? Well, then we know for sure, and the military option becomes legitimate.

After all, just consider all the time Bush has wasted in these years while Iran has continued to enrich uranium. Economists talks about opportunity costs. The entire Bush administration has been an astronomical opportunity cost, not least in our dealings with Iran.

Here’s Michael Schwirtz and Alan Cowell in the New York Times on the recent saber rattling.

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One Response to Seymour Hersh and the War in Iran

  1. John Maszka says:

    While diplomacy with Iran may have its challenges, it should be pursued at every length. Iran has a conscription army and nearly 10 million eligible males between the ages of 18 and 32 (Posen, 2003). Iran’s conventional military potential aside, US Intelligence assesses that Iran will likely have nuclear weapons capability within the decade (Select Committee on Intelligence, 2006).

    The United States needs to be very aware of Iran’s growing political influence in the international community as well. In a sermon commencing the month of Ramadan 2007, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the Bush administration of war crimes in Iraq, and of attempting to undermine Islam in the Middle East. Amidst chants from worshipers: “Death to America,” Khamenei stated that he has “a firm belief that one day this current US president and the American officials will be tried in a fair international court for the atrocities committed in Iraq.”

    The Ayatollah’s denunciation came just one day after President Bush’s demand that Iran and Syria put an end to their efforts to foil democratization in Iraq. The President’s remarks were based on the report from General Petraeus, indicating that Iran is fighting a “proxy war” in Iraq. In response, Khamenei compared president Bush to Hitler and Saddam Hussein (AFP, 2007).

    American popularity worldwide has plummeted over the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Khameinei’s word’s are falling upon a rising number of sympathetic ears. Any inclination the Bush administration has toward regime change in Iran should be given very, very careful thought. Ultimately, the situation confronting the United States regarding Iran is identical in many respects to the threat of terrorism itself:

    A clash of cultures, a stubborn battle of wills, two very different ways of looking at the same reality, a global game of chicken in which neither side wants to back down. This of course is a gross oversimplification of a very complex problem, but there are some basic truths to the argument. The United States and Europe are largely divided on their views of Iran, as well as their views of how best to counter terrorism. One of the greatest challenges facing the United States in its efforts to counter terrorism, is learning to understand those who resort to its use, and developing a coherent construct within which to address terrorism. The same can be said of Iran. And few can argue that there is no small amount of testosterone in the air, and this stubbornness can be seen on both sides of the standoff. Henry Kissinger has aptly stated that “so long as Iran views itself as a crusade rather than a nation, a common interest will not emerge from negotiations.” But this observation is equally applicable to the Bush administration as well.

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