Can Hersh Be Believed?

Marc Schulman counters Sy Hersh's latest New Yorker piece:

For 32 months, Hersh has been doing everything in his power to convince the publicand the Iraniansthat the Bush Administration is on the verge of attacking Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons, and, by implication, that the Administration’s statements regarding diplomatic efforts represent a cover-up of its real intentions.

One wonders how much longer this can go on without Hersh’s credibility being called into question by those who consider him to be an oracle. We clearly haven’t reached the tipping point, as evinced by these blogosphere reactions to his new article…

I don't think Hersh is making this stuff up. It's not at all implausible that a faction in the administration wants war with Iran, however it is brought about. The original goal of the Iraq war was, in part, to destabilize Iran.  If a democracy took hold in Iraq, the argument went (and I bought it), Iran's mullahs would be vulnerable to domestic revolution. Obviously, the Iraq disaster has made that unlikely. If anything, it has helped stigmatize democracy among Arab Muslims and Persians, by associating it with disorder and anarchy (thanks, Mr President). So if you're Cheney and being nice guy didn't work, why would he not try the alternative? The man is clearly divorced from reality; and the stream of propaganda that has come out from the Bush right these past few months is noteworthy. The drum beat of very serious accusations against Iran, the fact that Sarkozy and Brown have obviously been warned of what's coming, and the Senate resolution last week (thanks, Mrs Clinton!) are hard to ignore. Are we supposed to believe Cheney has nothing to do with this? After all we have learned about his machinations with respect to the Iraq war? Come on. Scott Horton makes the obvious case:

Back at the end of August, Barney Rubin told us of word he got from a source suggesting that a week after Labor Day, the office of Vice President Cheney would be pushing a new product roll-out. It would involve the usual suspects and it would be a test-marketing of an air war against Iran. We’re two weeks and a bit into that process. If you go back and sift through your newspapers, you’ll find that Rubin’s unnamed source clearly knew exactly what he was talking about. Indeed, what I’ve summarized here is the tiniest fragment of the total rollout effort (I didn’t even mention the ADL’s program, and they actually even called it a “rollout”). Not only is it underway, Cheney’s role as the coordinator has become increasingly transparent. As psy ops projects go, this one isn’t too sophisticated.

The Iranian regime is obviously odious and dangerous. But launching one war with no regard for the consequences does not seem to me to be a good reason to launch another.