Seymour Hersh interviewed on Democracy Now! Jan. 26, 2005
“One of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is, we have been taken over, basically, by a cult; eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how, and why, and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now. But they managed to overcome the bureaucracy, and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our democracy is [or, as Chomsky might assert, how nonexistent]. You do have to wonder what a democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way…
“Since we installed our puppet government, this man Allawi — who was a member of the Mukabarat, the secret police of Saddam, and is basically Saddam-lite — since we have installed him on June 28… [in each month since that time], one thing has happened: the number of sorties, and the number of tonnage dropped, has grown exponentially each month. We are systematically bombing [Iraq].
“There are no embedded journalists at Doha*, the Air Force base I think we’re operating out of. No embedded journalists at the aircraft carrier, USS Harry Truman. That’s the aircraft carrier that I think is doing many of the operational fights. There’s no air defense in Iraq, so it’s simply a turkey shoot. They come and hit what they want. We know nothing. We don’t ask. We’re not told. We know nothing about the extent of bombing. So if they’re going to carry out an election and if they’re going to succeed, bombing is going to be key to it, which means that what happened in Fallujah, essentially Iraq — some of you remember Vietnam — Iraq is being turn into a ‘free-fire zone’ right in front of us. Hit everything, kill everything.
“I have a friend in the Air Force, a colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah, I called him at home… He has one of those caller I.D.s, and he picked up the phone and he said, ‘Welcome to Stalingrad.’ We know what we’re doing. This is deliberate. It’s being done. They’re not telling us. They’re not talking about it…
“The press is nowhere. The Congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star general I know is saying, ‘Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?’ Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That’s just the way it is. It’s a system built on fear. It’s not lack of integrity, it’s more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It’s a system that’s completely been taken over — by cultists.
“Anyway, what’s going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost, and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home… and the wounded ones come back, and there’s wards that you will never hear about. There’s ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. We’re going to learn more and I think you’re going to see, it’s going to — it’s — I’m trying to be optimistic. We’re going to see a bottom-swelling from inside the ranks. You’re beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I’m not suggesting we’re going to have mutinies, but I’m going to suggest you’re going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will [cause Bush to alter his course of action].
“Another salvation may be the economy. It’s going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe — Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I’m talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. It’s going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit — our — we’re spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars.** We’re going to see enormous panic here. But Bush could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous.”
* I talked about my time in Qatar with a woman I’d worked with briefly last summer. In response to her question about if I saw any American military presence there, I said “The only thing I saw were the F-16s roaring across the harbor, which happened about every day, flying off to the northwest.” And that was enough to see in itself.
** I believe that I read — or was told by a pharmacist in Cleveland — that Iraq was interested in selling its oil based on the euro, and this was an impetus for the invasion. I’ll have to search some more, but I want to say that Iran has been trading on the euro, or wants to do so. (See: BUSH’S DEEP REASONS FOR WAR ON IRAQ: OIL, PETRODOLLARS, AND THE OPEC EURO QUESTION)
Also, a scenario that has Europe, Japan and Russia become economically dominant — and take over a destabilized US economy — is briefly described in Olivia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower,” which tells a story that sometimes comes back to mind as prophecy.