Seymour Hersh is back. And the scariest thing to me about his new article
that Rumsfeld is setting up his own covert action crew in the Pentagon, to
evade the limits that got put on the CIA after its own misadventures. Or that
he thinks he can also evade Congressional oversight for it. Or that they are
already conducting covert operations against Iran's nuclear program,
potentially blowing up European anti-proliferation negotiations, acting on an
apparently faith-based assessment that the negotiations are preordained to
fail. Or that the goals of Rumsefeld and co. don't seem to be limited to
Iran's nuclear program; a well-connected consultant tells Hersh that they
"want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as
The scariest part isn't even that they have a nod-and-wink deal with the
Pakistanis to allow that nuclear program to go full blast, and to
keep its high officials away from international arms enforcers. (As if we had
a guarantee that the Pakistani government, once friendlier to the Taliban than
us, was now guaranteed to remain permanently in our corner).
No, the scariest thing is why they seem to think that they can
just go into Iran and smash things up:
- The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon,
in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they
believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. “Within the
soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers,
on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement,"
the consultant told me. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the
mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the
Iranian regime will collapse”like the former Communist regimes in Romania,
East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief,
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz also shared the belief that a pliant Iraqi
population would welcome their troops, and their privatization schemes, with
open arms. They had studied the matter carefully, with Wolfowitz noting
in Congressional testimony that there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq,
unlike in, say, Kosovo. (Well, except for the oppression of the majority
Shiites by the Sunnis, and that whole Kurdish genocide thing -- neither of
which rose to the notice of Wolfowitz). And so, he explained, we'd have a
quick operation there, with most of the troops out in months, and a bill of
well under $100 billion.
And we all know now how well that turned out. Besides, any reports of
problems will surely be faced with the same steely-eyed resolve reportedly
shown by Dubya himself:
- According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and head of the independent Middle East Policy Council, Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. “We're losing,” Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.
What could possibly go wrong?