I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.
Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.
After they finished watching the Bond movies, I figured the next series John Gruber and Dan Benjamin would discuss on The Talk Show would be Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. But Gruber refused — too personal for podcasting, he said. Disappointed, I rewatched 2001.
Instead of acknowledging the wisdom of leading from behind, the Right jumped on the Obama administration’s handling of Libya as yet another example of at best incompetence. They lost me there.
Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was still only 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust this US President.
Nobody from usesthis.com has asked me what my setup us, nor is likely to anytime soon. So I’m just going to mouth off here about it. But first, some background.
On the Leon Wieseltier/Andrew Sullivan spat, Walter Russell Mead seems to want to have his strudel and eat it too.
Defeat in the Olympics bid may focus the mind in the Oval Office where it should be: Afghanistan.
There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. It’s a hot July Wednesday morning. Things are reasonably busy. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown — Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.
ime was, Seymour Hersh’s dispatches were a cause for minor celebration. They were full- and deep-throated journalistic tours de force, possible changers of paradigms. But his latest, ‘Preparing the Battlefield’, leaves too many clues revealing precisely where he’s coming from. I suppose then it’s not that he’s losing his touch but that it’s no coincidence his previous revelations, from Vietnam to Lebanon, always supported the Left.
The general tenor of the article is to decry as a scandal that Democratic congressmen on intelligence committees are agreeing to finance the Bush Administration’s new campaign of covert operations against Iran:
Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.
Never mind that it’s clearly Obama who’s backtracking these days from his gaffe of saying he’d have unconditional talks with Ahmedinejad.
Then there is the introduction of the outrageous publicly-released National Intelligence Estimate on Iran stopping its pursuit of nuclear weapons. This is the paragraph that exposed to me Hersh’s journalism as polemics:
The request for funding came in the same period in which the Administration was coming to terms with a National Intelligence Estimate, released in December, that concluded that Iran had halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003. The Administration downplayed the significance of the N.I.E., and, while saying that it was committed to diplomacy, continued to emphasize that urgent action was essential to counter the Iranian nuclear threat.
There is no intimation here that the NIE’s conclusions were very transparently a political interference with the (twice) elected Administration’s freedom of action, that if there is any scandal here it is the NIE document itself. Instead, the tenor of the article is that anyone who knows anything, from the Secretary of Defence down, is sensibly trying to stem the tide of insanity coming from the White House.
To summarize the situation, Hersh then builds up and brings in Admiral William Fallon (ousted I read elsewhere due to tensions with General Petreaus):
“Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians,” he told me. “Let’s get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone’s an individual. The idea that they’re only one way or another is nonsense.”
What transparent tosh. It is not the 80 million Iranians that the Bush Administration is confronting but the mullocratic regime that oppresses them and has been at war with the United States since its founding in 1979. Fallon and by extension Hersh ignore the obvious fact that in a tyranny the people and the regime are two very different entities.
Here’s another weird statement from Fallon:
“When I arrived at CENTCOM, the Iranians were funding every entity inside Iraq. It was in their interest to get us out, and so they decided to kill as many Americans as they could. And why not? They didn’t know who’d come out ahead, but they wanted us out. I decided that I couldn’t resolve the situation in Iraq without the neighborhood. To get this problem in Iraq solved, we had to somehow involve Iran and Syria. I had to work the neighborhood.”
By working the neighborhood he means asking, “What can we do for you chaps so that you’ll stop blowing us up?” No response is forthcoming because (it seems we need repeated reminding) the Iranian regime has been at war with the United States since its founding in 1979: “Dear infidels, you could be kind enough to leave us alone so we can focus on building much bigger bombs with which to blow you up. Though of course we shall still blow you up in the meanwhile, Allah be praised.”
Halfway through the article Hersh does cease and desist with the leftist polemics for a while and starts discussing the merits not of whether to attack the Iranian regime but how:
In recent months, according to the Iranian media, there has been a surge in violence in Iran; it is impossible at this early stage, however, to credit JSOC or C.I.A. activities, or to assess their impact on the Iranian leadership. The Iranian press reports are being carefully monitored by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College and now conducts war games centered on Iran for the federal government, think tanks, and universities. The Iranian press “is very open in describing the killings going on inside the country,” Gardiner said. It is, he said, “a controlled press, which makes it more important that it publishes these things. We begin to see inside the government.” He added, “Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere. There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.”
Earlier this year, a militant Ahwazi group claimed to have assassinated a Revolutionary Guard colonel, and the Iranian government acknowledged that an explosion in a cultural center in Shiraz, in the southern part of the country, which killed at least twelve people and injured more than two hundred, had been a terrorist act and not, as it earlier insisted, an accident. It could not be learned whether there has been American involvement in any specific incident in Iran, but, according to Gardiner, the Iranians have begun publicly blaming the U.S., Great Britain, and, more recently, the C.I.A. for some incidents. The agency was involved in a coup in Iran in 1953, and its support for the unpopular regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi—who was overthrown in 1979—was condemned for years by the ruling mullahs in Tehran, to great effect. “This is the ultimate for the Iranians—to blame the C.I.A.,” Gardiner said. “This is new, and it’s an escalation—a ratcheting up of tensions. It rallies support for the regime and shows the people that there is a continuing threat from the ‘Great Satan.’ ” In Gardiner’s view, the violence, rather than weakening Iran’s religious government, may generate support for it.
Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?” One possible consequence of these operations would be a violent Iranian crackdown on one of the dissident groups, which could give the Bush Administration a reason to intervene.
A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr told me. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the U.S. is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said. “You can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population.”
Fair enough: We need to beware of backing lame horses, and more generally of this Administration’s penchant for botching the execution of its right-minded policies, at least the first time around, too focused perhaps on girding its loins to undertake a brave thing than in planning it through to the end. But Hersh’s fairness soon dissipates as he conflates the issue of how to attack Iran with whether to:
The White House’s reliance on questionable operatives, and on plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran, has created anger as well as anxiety within the Special Operations and intelligence communities.
So it is not just the reliance on questionable operatives that creates anger and anxiety but the very notion of lethal action inside Iran. The tactics and the policy are two very different things but with his sentence structure Seymour Hersh conflates them, just as his mouthpiece Fallon falsely conflates the Iranian people and the regime, and no longer in my eyes is this reporter an honest man.
Another End of Times