Faster, Please!

The neocons and their critics

Oh dear, the neocons are at it again, both according to the (conservative) London Telegraph and the fanciful American New Yorker’s Sy Hersh.

The main allegation is that powerful neocons, like Norman Podhoretz, are exerting their Svengali-like influence over Bush and Cheney to inspire a military attack on Iran. The Telegraph‘s Tim Shipman nicely summarizes both the tone and the hollowness of the allegations:

American diplomats have been ordered to compile a dossier detailing Iran’s violations of international law that some fear could be used to justify military strikes against the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.

Whenever you see “some fear could be used,” you know you’re dealing with gossip, not news. Shipman has no evidence that the Bush Administration is planning to launch military strikes against anything in Iran, let alone its nuclear program, indeed all he has, really, is an account of a session at the White House involving the president, the vice president, and Norman Podhoretz, who has called for us to bomb Iran. Podhoretz thinks Bush and Cheney are resolved to do it, but even he has no evidence for this belief, aside from chuckles and body language at the meeting.

Hersh has been announcing the imminent bombing of Iranian nuclear sites for many months, and has now changed the lyrics to that chant. He now says that there’s been a change in program: we’re going to bomb military targets, Revolutionary Guards bases, and so forth. As usual, his sources range from the unnamed to the unreliable. He relies on Vincent Cannistraro, who has lied about me among his other inventions, and on Vali Nasr, who rarely sees anything to criticize in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The quality of Nasr’s analysis emerges in an amazing statement that Hersh quotes with favor:

It’s clear that the United States cannot bring security to Iraq, because it is not doing everything necessary to bring stability. If they did, they would talk to anybody to achieve it—even Iran and Syria,” Nasr said. (Such engagement was a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Group.) “America cannot bring stability in Iraq by fighting Iran in Iraq.

Apparently, despite all the public announcements, press conferences, photo ops, and the like, we really aren’t talking to the mullahs at all.

It’s mysticism, not reporting.