Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sy Hersh...Still Blithering After All These Years

You have to love this take down of Seymour Hersh's latest spate of paranoid ramblings from Across The Bay: The Sylight Zone

In order to fully understand the piece, you must read it with Hersh's comments to Wolf Blitzer earlier today, where Hersh offered the "interpretive key" so to speak, as well as an interview with the pro-Syrian as-Safir daily. It also gives you a sense of the unfiltered, wide-eyed lunacy that got edited out in the New Yorker piece, and shows just how ludicrous Hersh's "reporting" is, amounting to little more than wholesale, verbatim regurgitation of Hezbollah and Syrian propaganda.

Hersh immediately presents the underlying, pathetically reductionist and silly premise: who is the "real" enemy and the "real" danger, Iran or the Sunnis? It was succinctly summarized in his as-Safir interview: "we are against Sunni jihadism, for it was responsible for 9/11, not the Shi'a." This was reflected in the article in a quote by Vali Nasr (who along with other Iranian analysts -- Ali Ansari, Kaveh Afrasiabi, Hossein Askari, Ray Takeyh, et al. -- has been pushing this line from that particular trench): "It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals." It was also "confirmed" by the useless Flynt Leverett in a side-splitting comment dripping with conspiracism and Flynt's usual narrow, shallow nonsense: "The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq ... The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them." The latter part is really the part that concerns Hersh the most.

The next step in Hersh's mental construct -- guided by overt hatred of the Bush administration -- is how this is setting the stage for war with Iran. This translates into covert (naturally!) action by the US against Iran and its allies and interests in the region. The basic idea is that the United States (namely the NSC, the OVP, and the DoD) are going after Iran and the axis it leads in cooperation with the Saudis, namely Prince Bandar. How are they going about it? By funding and arming Sunni extremist groups to counter pro-Iranian Shiites and Iran's sidekick, Syria. And the fun begins!

Again, Nasr provides the hook: "The Saudis have considerable financial means, and have deep relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis." We've almost reached the heart of the theory. The next step: How does this relate to Lebanon and Syria?

Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that "they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran."

Now, you are entitled to wonder here who Hersh's source is on this. Who is the person privy to this sensitive information? Surely, an NSC or OVP official. Perhaps even a DoS official, or perhaps someone from the DoD. What about a Saudi source? No, it's even better than that! It's a "U.S. government consultant." It's air tight!

There is a lot more over at Across the Bay and it is worthwhile reading, particularly if you feel the slightest inclination to take old Sy seriously.

I came to terms with Sy's pathologies long ago. This is what I wrote about him back in 2005:

It seems to me that someone who is doing investigative journalism, a form of journalism which often precludes readers from being able to corroborate much of the information presented, has a greater responsibility placed upon them to be even handed than, for instance, someone working on an editorial page or as a columnist. As it stands how can anyone objectively decide where Hersh's grasp of facts end and where his paranoid delusions start? I don't think you can objectively decide. If you find that Seymour Hersh's journalism speaks to you or not, it says more about the mindset you had to begin with. You certainly didn't learn anything new. In many ways you end up less informed then when you started.

To this, of course, we can now add deliberately propagating falsehoods for the benefit of a state sponsor of terrorism.

Nice way to branch out.

(Gleaned from Michael J. Totten's palce)


Tully said...

A "U.S. government consultant?" Hey, that's so open even *I* qualify! (No, I'm not his source...)

Yeah, Sy's long on paranoia and conspiracy and often short on confirmation. You'd almost think he worked for AP.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Hersh might not work directly for the AP but I'm sure he will be a font of inspiration for them.

And, yes, "U.S. government consultant" is a half-step up from "This guy I met in a bar once..."

It is kinda scary to think of how many people are reading him in a dead serious manner.