Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation

Fool’s Bet

The Iraq War is as if the Bush Administration tried to open a restaurant in the desert using ingredients it didn’t understand, equipment it didn’t know how to use, and no recipes whatsoever. Most restauranteurs would close the kitchen when the restaurant failed, but not Chef U.S.A.! It has decided that the best way to sell the gruel nobody will buy is to sabotage every other restaurant in town. From Seymour Hersh’s latest, in an unbroken-since-2003 string of articles that terrify me:

In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.

Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources…. The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being “foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.

Surely I can’t be the only one unnerved by the fact that war with Iran hinges on the fact that the Joint Chiefs are counting on the Bush administration to do something that isn’t foolish? The thought of that inspires me to paraphrase a tautological man: You go to war with the Joint Chiefs you have, not the Joint Chiefs you wish were more insightful.

Anyway, Hersh goes on to explain that the Administration’s recent rhetoric against Iran is not only an attempt to goad Iran into killing Archduke Ferdinand—that much was obvious from the beginning—but is part of a broader Middle East theory (to call it a “strategy,” would be giving it too much credit) that joins Saudi Arabia, Israel, and some Sunni groups in Iraq (up to but not including Al Qaida) in machinations against Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and some Shiite groups in Iraq (up to and possibly including prime minister Nouri al Maliki). Part of those machinations include the empowerment of several militant, anti-Shiite groups in Saudi Arabia, much like Al Qaida once was. (The difference between the 1980s, when the U.S. encouraged Saudi Arabia to fund similar groups to fight in Afghanistan, and now? The Saudis “have assured the White House that ‘they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists…. It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at.’”) And Lebanon is central to those machinations. The whole article is worth your time, even for the sake of destroying your credulity.1

1 I don’t just refer to the destruction of your credulity at the extraordinary stupidity of U.S. Middle East “policy”: Hersh’s reporting, because it is rife with anonymous, can be difficult to believe. Such is the price a reporter pays for access.



I was struck by the alleged level of covert US involvement in anti-Hezbollah operations. If what the article says is true, there can be little doubt that the US government has funded Al Qaida.

Amazing, isn’t it? Because the gov’t insists that backdoor dealings are the ideal ways not to play well with others, it ends up creating these really nasty ironies. I also liked that of this crowd, they’ve decided that one of the “lessons learned” from Iran-Contra are that Congress can be got around. That’s one reason the charlatans (as reported in MoJo by Laura Rozen) who suckered the US then are doing the same thing now.