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Monday, October 18, 2004


seymour hersh

i'm reading sy hersh's new book, "chain of command", which is a sort of essay collection on his investigations surrounding all the events from 9/11 to the failing war in iraq. hersh is, of course an american treasure -- one of the few journalists in existence for whom the first amendment is really a necessary invention.

his outlook on the bush administration is, as it is with many investigative reporters of the "reality-based community", very dark. the failings are everywhere evident to a man as knowledgeable as hersh -- but he has been particularly affected, it seems, by american war crimes committed under bush as part of the white house's policy to ignore the geneva conventions (not to mention christian ethics, results and common sense) in pursuing what seems an emotional vendetta against all of arabia, in defiance of any valid rationale or useful plan.

as others continue to expand on his insightful research (as in this interview of an abu ghraib interrogator,) we are learning more and more exactly how america has -- under this white house -- become an terrible approximation of the global demon it purports to fight. in so doing, i fear we have put ourselves in far greater, not lesser, jeopardy.

in this webcast of an interview with hersh (sometimes difficult to follow, as thoughts come faster than he can finish sentences), words of indictment for american soldiers under orders and the political offices from which those orders emerge are not spared. if you don't want to sit through the whole thing, this condensation of what is going on in iraq will suffice to shock. it is too easy to view what is transpiring in iraq and hersh's reporting on it as a bookend, over thirty years later, of my lai.

in my opinion, in light of abu ghraib, guantanamo and the rest, the united states is unlikely ever again to be the globally-recognized home of rousseauian idealism in practice. the american soul is, i think, irreparably soiled in all eyes -- even, perhaps among the thoughtful, our own.

hersh often laments the frittering away of such indispensable moral capital at a time we need it most. so do i.

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