Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seymour Hersh - the Sluggard's Bob Woodward

It always warms my heart to hear the rantings of someone who's become so caught up in their own notoriety that they've become unable to say anything coherent.

Take Pulitzer Prize-winning "journalist" Seymour Hersh, who appeared on a Democracy Now! radio broadcast, raving about how the United States has been taken over by cultists.

Hersh never fails to disappoint, at least not when it comes to packing as much bias, innuendo, and uncheckable "facts" into his articles. The radio interview - it's really more of a monologue or diatribe - is no different. To wit:

I can tell you one thing. Let's all forget this word 'insurgency'. It's one of the most misleading words of all. Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba'athists plus nationalists.

This is wrong, of course. The people we began the war against were Iraq and the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard. America won that fight, and now the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard are being retrained and helping the United States in its efforts against Musab al-Zarqawi and his gang of thugs.

Michael Moore would call them "minutemen," but nothing could be further from the truth. Zarqawi, the bin Laden-appointed "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq, recently had this to say: "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology... Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion against the rule of God."

It's clear even back here at Fort Knox, Ky., that the war has changed dramatically - shifted gears, so to speak, from a ground war to a house-to-house police action, with occasional flare-ups of activity.

Since Knox is the Army's home of cavalry and armor, the command likes to emphasize the role of the M1-series Abrams main battle tank in the Iraq theater. I spoke about it with the public affairs officer, who wondered what we could do to get more tank photos into the paper. I suggested that it seemed to me that we were past the point where the Abrams would typically be used - namely, making large-front pushes to take over territory.

Tacticians will cite exceptions, of course, and it's true that America's heaviest ground-based weapons platform has been used since operations shifted to counter-insurgency. But generally speaking, the blitzkrieg mode is over, and now the "war" has changed. It doesn't involve maps of entire countries, with broad red arrows sweeping over hundreds of miles of terrain anymore - instead, major activities are establishing security and stability.

What I'm getting at is that we're no longer at war with Iraq - we're at war with Zarqawi and those others who would seek to prevent democracy from taking root in a country that's been traditionally absolutist. I think it's crucial that when the word "war" is thrown around vis a vis operations in Iraq that this distinction is understood implicitly.

So back to our friend Hersh and his desire to eliminate the usage of the word "insurgents" when it comes to who we’re fighting in Iraq. Since the blitzkrieg is over, and we’re finished fighting the nation of Iraq, and since the only Iraq that exists right now is the one whose infrastructure is being administrated by the United States, and since we’re fighting groups that seek to drive the United States out of Iraq, I’d say that by Hersh’s own definition of the word, we are fighting insurgents.

Hersh also lists a couple "facts" in his Democracy Now! interview:

On the other hand, the facts -- there are some facts. We can’t win this war. We can do what he's doing. We can bomb them into the stone ages.

Characteristic. To Hersh, "facts" are just whatever things he happens to believe.

And I’d venture to guess that it’s the same impulse that leads people to believe Hersh whenever he says anything: he makes statements that are convenient to believe if you’re in the Evil Government Conspiracy camp, so there’s no sense in checking facts – we wouldn’t want to weaken our belief system, would we?

Basically, Hersh is attractive to those who feel the need to believe in a dark corporate/cultists conspiracy that’s taking over our country. As Max Boot said in this commentary in the L.A. Times, speaking on comparisons of Hersh to Bob Woodward:

Hersh, on the other hand, is the journalistic equivalent of Oliver Stone: a hard-left zealot who subscribes to the old counterculture conceit that a deep, dark conspiracy is running the U.S. government. In the 1960s the boogeyman was
the ‘military- industrial complex.’ Now it's the ‘neoconservatives.’ ‘They overran the bureaucracy, they overran the Congress, they overran the press, and they overran the military!’ Hersh ranted at UC Berkeley on Oct. 8, 2004.

See, life is more exciting if there’s a Big Bad Wolf to be looking out for... and it’s also more convenient. When all problems can be blamed on a "neoconservative cabal" that’s overrun the government, well, not only can we group everyone who disagrees with us into that disparaging category, we can also paint ourselves to be the downtrodden and repressed – definitely an advantageous position to whine from.

And this mentality is by no means confined to Sy Hersh and his disciples. If I hear the words "librul media’s agenda" one more time, I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep from becoming violent.

As I said, people create these groupings because it’s convenient. The only reason the word "agenda" exists in terms of politics is because of laziness.

Okay, that’s definitely enough for now. Stay tuned!