Sunday, April 09, 2006

Averting nuclear war in Iran

I imagine most people have read Seymour Hersh's new piece on current plans for a war on Iran, including possible use of nuclear weapons. The claims have of course been denied, anonymously, of course, but the Washington Post offers some confirmation. And Hersh appeared on CNN today to discuss the article. Video and transcript are at Think Progress.

The War in Context has an interesting take on the Hersh article:
It's possible that Seymour Hersh's latest article amounts to a kind of journalistic pre-emptive attack on the Bush administration's Iran planning. In other words, making public the grave misgivings that Pentagon planners have about the recklessness of a bombing campaign against Iran -- even using tactical nuclear weapons -- might serve to diminish the chance of that happening as the administration gets an earful of editorial outrage. At the same time, the press is treading a fine line as it reports the current "attack Iran" planning. Willingly or not, the media is making itself part of the administration's propaganda campaign intended to make the Iranians believe that the mess in Iraq won't inhibit this administration from military action against Iran. Perhaps the White House really doesn't feel constrained, but it's hard right now to tell whether the media is functioning as a watchdog alerting the public to the administration's wild ambitions or as an attack dog under the administration's command. It seems like a bit of both.

Let's say that this media-enabled saber rattling has the desired effect and the Iranians back down on their nuclear ambitions. All's well that ends well? Not exactly, because the hidden partnership between journalists and government officials will have become that much cozzier, and a willingness from either side to reveal the relationship's inner workings that much less likely. Just imagine reading an article in which a reporter said, "A senior administration official who called me..." -- but of course, no one will ever spill the beans like that and reveal that "information" is actively been shunted in their direction. If they did, that'd be the last call they got!

As for the likelihood of an attack on Iran, it's tempting to say that the more we hear about it, the less likely it is that its about to happen. At the same time, it's very easy for rational observers to underestimate the Bush administration's capacity for irrational behaviour.
All legitimate concerns I think. Still, the story has to go out if there is any chance at all that it may help derail the insanity that the administration is planning in Iraq.
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UPDATE 4/10: The Poor Man expresses some similar concerns.

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