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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Unreachable 

Gloria Lalumia of BuzzFlash caught Seymour Hersh's lecture at New Mexico State on Tuesday. In addition to discussing the widespread practice of torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, Hersh touched on Afghanistan (“the ‘bad guys’ are still there, the elections have been delayed for a second time, crime is up, they are the largest producers of heroin in the world, and at one point, 700 kids were dying of hypothermia and malnutrition every day”), the Iraqi elections ("Nobody knew who they were voting for. If this had happened in Russia during the Cold War, it would have been laughed at”), and the fragility of democracy in America ("It’s as if we’ve been taken over by a cult of 8 or 9 people who decided the road to stop international terrorism led to Baghdad . . . Where was the military, the Congress, the press?"):
“The President,” Hersh sighed. “Bush is as absolutely convinced he’s doing the right thing,” just as journalists are who think of themselves as white knights think they are doing the right thing. “Even if we have another thousand body bags, it won’t deter him” . . . .

And then he delivered the most chilling comments of the evening. “Nothing I write” is likely to influence Bush, he said. “He is unreachable. I can’t reach him. He’s got his own world. This is really unusual and frankly, it scares the hell out of me” . . . .

Touching on the situation at Guantanamo Bay, Hersh said that of the 600 people there, about half have had nothing to do with terrorism. But, he warns, if they aren’t Al-Qaeda already, they will be. And the government now faces the difficulty that many detainees can’t even be released because they’ve now become more of a threat as a result of their imprisonment than they were before they were sent to Gitmo.

According to his contacts in military/intelligence circles, the debate over whether 9/11 was part of a deep-seated Al-Qaeda presence in the US or was the equivalent of a “pick-up team” has been largely resolved. Most experts have come down on the side of the latter. So, the US will have to come to terms with what we’ve done eventually, and in Hersh’s view, “there’s no good news in this, folks.”

Hersh said that his best guess is that oil was not “the real thing he wanted to do” [i.e., Bush's motive for going to war -- S.] The neo-con mantra, ‘all roads lead to Baghdad’ and ‘democratization,’ the latter concept which goes all the way back to Jean Kirkpatrick, were the major ideas behind the war. Bush couldn’t have sold “democratization” on it’s own, so WMD’s were used as the reason. “If we had known there was no WMD, there would have been no vote.”

Hersh warned that when the price of oil reaches $68-$69 a barrel, this will be the crunch point in terms of real economic decline. If Bush wants to move against Iran, which is pumping about 3.9 barrels a day, he’s heading for trouble. According to Hersh, Iran will scuttle every ship in the Straights of Hormuz and the Malaca Straits in Indonesia. It will take months of dredging and salvaging to approach normalcy.

If oil is Bush’s top priority, “Bush is just not behaving as someone who is managing an oil crisis” and has already been “mismanaging oil in Iraq.”

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