Monday, April 10, 2006

Seymour Hersh Goes Out on a Limb...And Comes Back

Seymour Hersh is a respected columnist in many circles, but then again, anyone gets respectable if they live long enough and get published enough. His article in this week's New Yorker about the Bush administration's plans for Iran has caused a bit of a stir among the liberal literati who frequent the NY-DC corridor. And that's too bad, because it doesn't offer much that isn't already known by anyone even casually following the situation.

First off, to treat the fact that the White House is considering a military solution to Iraq's nuclear ambitions as an exposé is like the New York Times doing a five-banner headline on the fact that the sun rose in the east this morning. The military option has to remain on the table if we are to ever hope to get Iran to give up its nuclear program. Time and again history has proven that dictatorships only understand force. Anything short of that, including what we Westerners pride as diplomacy, is interpreted as a sign of weakness.

Second, Hersh's story is so puffed full of air that my ears popped just reading it. Virtually all his facts are gleaned from faceless "Pentagon officials," unnamed "policy experts," and anonymous "military sources." I understand that some people will only speak candidly about a subject if they can be guaranteed anonymity, but when you're talking about a subject of this magnitude, I want to see some names. I want statements being made about our considerations of using nuclear weapons to be attached to a specific person. I want accountability. Otherwise, you've got nothing more than armchair generals blithely speculating about possible conflicts and potential threats.

The Hersh piece is worth taking a look at, even if only to get a sense of the scope of our plans to take out Iran should they continue to misbehave. But I wouldn't spend too much time on it, and I certainly wouldn't go quoting it at dinner parties.

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