having senior officials "leak" the "fact" that the use of nukes is being seriously considered is a great piece of psyops if you want to scare the hell out of Iran and bring them to the bargaining table.Upon further reflection, almost all of the hyperbolic claims made by Hersh's anonymous sources fit this same pattern, raising the question: in writing this article, did Hersh unwittingly help a brilliant Bush administration psychological warfare campaign aimed at convincing the Iranian leadership that the "cowboys" in DC will do whatever it takes to remove them from power (and in all likelihood send them straight to Allah) if they don't end their nuclear program?
Consider how much of the information (in addition to the nuclear option) given to Hersh has either a "this is a done deal," or a "he's just crazy enough to do it" vibe to it. Hersh tells us that:
- US special ops troops are already in Iran and could be in position to "lase" targets, to insure bombing accuracy and minimize civilian casualties.
- The Air Force is already drawing up lists of hundreds of targets, and that “ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation,' but more to do with regime change.
- Bush will never let the Iranians begin a pilot program to enrich uranium that's scheduled for this spring.
- Bush views Iranian President Ahmadinejad as "a potential Hitler."
- Bush "believes that he must do 'what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,' and 'that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.'”
- A former defense official, when told that current US military planning is "premised on a belief that 'a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government,'" asked himself, ""What are they smoking?'"
- A member of the House Appropriations Committee says there's “'no pressure from Congress'” for the US not to take military action, that the pressure is only "'from the guys who want to do it.'” This same House members adds his scary take on President Bush: "'The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.'”
- The Europeans, whom the Iranians might be counting on for their usual willingness to achieve appeasment at any cost, find themselves "rattled...by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change."
So if you're part of the current Iranian regime, do you read Hersh's piece and think America is a paper tiger that doesn't have the will to pick a fight, or do you get the message that if forced to go to war, we will, as Ralph Peters urges, "make the conflict so devastating and painful that even our allies are stunned"?
A lot of bloggers have come down hard on Hersh (see here and here for examples) and often he deserves it. But I think in this case, whatever his intentions were, he's done this country a huge favor.
Update: Marc Schulman at American Future has a round-up of blogosphere opinion. He's not happy. Neither is The CI, but that's just because he wasn't part of the round-up.