Tony does a great job deconstructing Seymour Hersh's ridiculous piece in the New Yorker, which the world media is eating up like hot candy. Worse than a press that doesn’t ask the right questions is a press that makes up its own facts. "Investigative reporter" Hersh combines both talents in his latest article, "The redirection".
There is a lot of hogwash in the beginning of the article, which talks of a "new policy" that is "benefiting our enemies in the war". The article presumes that the enemy is "radical Sunni groups". Any policy that could lead to a confrontation with, say, Iran, is described as hurting our war against the original enemy, which apparently does not include Iran or Syria. Why would Hersh feel obliged to actually examine current facts, as opposed to ones from 2003, with a mentality from the 1970s? I guess he's having trouble finding good researchers, and is instead making heavy use of secondary sources, including perhaps Syrian regime propaganda tool, Cham Press, which, and thanks to Hersh's article, now feels more authentic than the latest issue of the New Yorker. Hersh, who rose to fame for his coverage of the Vietnam war, is only satisfied if the US army is seen massacring innocent people, and incurring heavy losses without much of a retaliation strategy. He's happier with an army that bleeds, as long as his hatred towards the Bush administration is served. To quote Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books, "in his mad zeal to destroy Camelot . . . Hersh has with precision and method disassembled and obliterated his own career and reputation."
Tony has addressed most of the points I wanted to address, including the preposterous accusations that the Lebanese government is arming al-Qaeda affiliates in Lebanon with the aim to attack "largely" Shia Hizbullah. Hersh's sources consist of washed up former intelligence officials, "government consultants" and think tank dwellers with statements beginning with "it seems".
Or guys like this one:
A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.”
Oh yeah, it's "so frustrating" to not know much about anything, isn't it… After a series of recycled political analysis that reminds us of the Arab states' fear of the Shias (what a revelation that is), Hersh resorts to the Council on Foreign Relations for some more guess work.
“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me.
All that evidence, Hersh says, proves that the alleged US strategy of clandestine activities against Syria and Iran is "bolstering ... Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda".
Oh? So, according to Hersh, by (allegedly) waging clandestine operations against Syria and Iran, known to support and facilitate al-Qaeda operations in Iraq and Lebanon, the US is bolstering al-Qaeda?
Al-Qaeda must be in happy place now. The US government, Iran and Syria are all supporting it.
Hersh must think himself super smart and the administration stupid, for he thinks, and since "most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites" (in a parachuting manner, mind you, Islamists are being dropped by the Sunni god from the sky), the administration is busy correcting an "unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran". So this administration is so dumb, that it's willing to bolster Sunni extremists to get back at Iran, which, to Hersh, has done nothing wrong in Iraq, not to mention Lebanon.
I urge you to read Tony's post on the Lebanon part of the article, where we learn about "Bashir Assad", a man against whom the UN found "no direct evidence" of involvement in the Hariri murder. According to Hersh, the situation is so desperate, the UN will launch "another investigation". This "other investigation" is what people familiar with the rule of law know as the Hariri tribunal. Of course, absent from this "investigative reporting" is Syria's violent opposition to the tribunal, which is also not mentioned as one of the prime reasons Hizbullah has hijacked downtown Beirut. In fact, Hizbullah, in Hersh's eyes, is only acting to counter a US plot to pit Sunnis against Shias, and for purely nationalistic purposes.
In the part about Nasrallah, Syria and Iran's role are minimized to the comfortable level allowing Hersh to prove his conspiracy theory. Enter Robert Baer.
Robert Baer, a former longtime C.I.A. agent in Lebanon, has been a severe critic of Hezbollah and has warned of its links to Iranian-sponsored terrorism. But now, he told me, “we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.
“The most important story in the Middle East is the growth of Nasrallah from a street guy to a leader—from a terrorist to a statesman,” Baer added. “The dog that didn’t bark this summer”—during the war with Israel—“is Shiite terrorism.”
Nasrallah is a growth alright, but a Lebanese statesman protecting Christians? I think Baer has spent too much time in Hollywood. It gets better—the following suggests Hizbullah is independent from Syria and Iran:
Most members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities acknowledge Hezbollah’s ongoing ties to Iran. But there is disagreement about the extent to which Nasrallah would put aside Hezbollah’s interests in favor of Iran’s. A former C.I.A. officer who also served in Lebanon called Nasrallah “a Lebanese phenomenon,” adding, “Yes, he’s aided by Iran and Syria, but Hezbollah’s gone beyond that.”
Can't you all see how Hizbullah's gone beyond Syria and Iran to serve Lebanese national interests?
Baer, Hersh and their friends have one thing in common: they all have abandoned reality for fiction. And we all know that fiction sells better. In the words of Hersh's proclaimed nemesis, George W. Bush, "Seymour Hersh is a liar".
Update. Sandmonkey got hershed.