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Spiegel Online has a powerful and terrifying interview with legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the man who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of the My Lai massacre and cover-up, and more recently broke the story about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison. The interview covers a lot of ground, so let's just look at some key parts, and then you must go read it!

On Iran:

(I)t's been underestimated how much the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) knows. If you follow what (IAEA head Mohamed) ElBaradei and the various reports have been saying, the Iranians have claimed to be enriching uranium to higher than a 4 percent purity, which is the amount you need to run a peaceful nuclear reactor. But the IAEA's best guess is that they are at 3.67 percent or something. The Iranians are not even doing what they claim to be doing. The IAEA has been saying all along that they've been making progress but basically, Iran is nowhere. Of course the US and Israel are going to say you have to look at the worst case scenario, but there isn't enough evidence to justify a bombing raid.

As Hersh explains- and I love this phrasing:

We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them.

Yes- Godwin is a staple of American political life. Hersh points to Kruschev, Mao, Stalin, and Gadhafi, and now Ahmadinejad. Of course, we're now on friendly terms with the apparent ex-Hitler, Gadhafi- if a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, Bush need not worry, because he appears to have no mind at all.  

Hersh also points out that Ahmadinejad is not actually in control, in Iran, so whatever rhetorical blather he blithers is not necessarily related to actual Iranian policies.

And then, there are these comforting words, about the real intent, behind Bush's warmongering:

We're going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies like most people breathe and you can't have that in public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around, I'd actually be relieved because I'd know that the madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes he's doing God's work.

Worse than Kissinger. Worse than Reagan. Worse than Nixon. In American history, it just doesn't get any worse. Or any more dangerous!

Hersh makes clear that there is only one answer, in Iraq: get the hell out! As soon as is possible! Our presence there fuels the violence. Yes, we all know that, but it's rare to see someone in print actually say it.

And the "surge"?

Hersh: The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he's talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He's not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdistan. You're going to have a Sunni area that we're going to have to support forever. And you're going to have the Shiites in the South.

Now, it needs be clarified: Hersh does not seem to be saying that Bush is actively pursuing genocide; it's that he knows that the different Iraqi factions will pursue it against each other, and he doesn't care. To Bush, no amount of human suffering matters. He is without human conscience. He seriously believes he is doing God's work, so demonstrable facts do not matter. Nothing in this world matters. It is all an illusion, while his own delusions are of a higher reality. If Kissinger was the personification of the sinister abuse of power, Bush is simply deranged.

Hersh says comparisons to Vietnam are absolutely valid, and that we don't learn from our mistakes. He also excoriates the media, for having failed to prevent the war, and for having failed the Constitution. He says that the damage from those failures, and the damage from the war, will be much worse than that from Vietnam.

In case you didn't know it: we're going to be living with the consequences of this disaster for a very long time.

Originally posted to Laurence Lewis on Sat Sep 29, 2007 at 11:33 AM PDT.

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