I dont think Bush gives a wit about 06, Hersh said. He does care about 08. So whatever business hes going to do whether he wants to go into Iran; he wants to go into Syria; he wants to take care of Lebanon or Hezbollah whatever hes going to do, he will do by the end of 07. Thats because I do think hed like to see somebody wholl carry on his policy elected in 08. But in 06? I dont think he cares at all.
What? Bush doesnt care about electing a Republican Congress this year?
I think he sees his mission as a much higher plain than day-to-day politics, Hersh continued, because hes certainly left the Republican Party in a real shambles for this fall.
The blowback from Enron, Plamegate, Katrina, the Medicare fiasco, Abu Ghraib, illegal surveillance and the long war against terrorism has discombobulated the GOP. Even in Orange County, California the pro-Bush bastion where Hersh is lecturing Friday and Saturday, February 10 and 11 at the upscale Newport Beach Public Library conservatives are getting restless. That may be why Hershs dates at the library have been sold out for weeks. Is the OC beginning to question itself? Is the conservative majority there losing faith in the Dub? Hersh's remarks about the absurdity of this Republican presidency will certainly sting pro-Bush ears.
"We have this amazing position, said Hersh about Bushs Middle East policy. Were hostile to Iran and yet the people we support in Iraq the people whove been elected; the people weve been working with all along are the Shi'a and the Shi'a in Iraq are pro-Iran. So the logic of it is confounding. You hear recently about our government trying to talk to the Sunnis. We could end up negotiating with the Sunnis and end up being their allies the same Sunnis that are involved desperately with the insurgency.
Bushs foreign policy grows curiouser and curiouser. While the situation in Iraq was presenting fundamentalists with affirmation of their belief in Armageddon, our fundamentalist president was using his State of the Union address to boast about bringing democracy to the Middle East. Which is it? End times or good times?
Its hallucinatory, of course, said Hersh. That speech was a little scary because, among other things, besides glossing over the mess in Iraq thats pretty much intractable at this point, Bush also talks about regime change in Iran as opposed to simply slowing down the nuke process there the nuclear weapons system that they seem to be building.
Is there a logic to these regime change threats? Is National Intelligence Director John Negroponte really truly cross-his-heart concerned about Irans nuclear program or is he part of another mega-hoax? Are we about to be distracted by Weapons of Mass Destruction yet again?
Im doing reporting on it, said Hersh. If you want to get worried, thats a very good reason to get worried. The future isnt bright. Its just not. We do have a president who thinks he has a mission. And its not clear how intelligence or other issues are going to matter.
Iran is three times the size as Iraq. It has three times the population. Its military, unlike Iraqs, wasnt destroyed in a war and then saddled with a decade of economic sanctions. Iran is a functioning oil-based economy with serious ties to the global economy. Simply put, Iran is not Iraq. And yet, Hersh seems to be speculating that the Bush administration might be crazy enough to attack Iran.
We asked Hersh to speculate some more. He laughed.
I guess what I would say to you is that if any of you have another passport, keep it alive, he said.