Saturday, April 02, 2005

Chain Of Command, by Seymour Hersh

More stuff about the war on terror. This book follows a pretty scattered format. The title leads you to believe it will be some sort of straight narrative, taking us from September 11 to Abu Ghraib. Instead, you just get chapters dealing with various subjects – Abu Ghraib; Pakistan; Afghanistan; intelligence agencies; Donald Rumsfeld; Richard Perle and the neo-con hawks; the generals running the show and so on and so forth.

A lot of the book has features unnamed sources. This person said this, that person said that. I found myself frequently forgetting what unnamed person was saying what. It has a deadening effect, all that anonymous quoting.

Nevertheless, despite that, it does give you a bit of a different, behind the scenes picture of what is going on, which is pretty chaotic. I didn’t walk away from the book thinking, well, those boys are certainly keeping a lid on things. Especially the chapter on Pakistan, which is so sympathetic to the Taliban – indeed, they nurtured them into existence. What would happen if one of the numerous attempts on Musharraf’s life is successful? What if a bunch of extremist nuts get its hands on all those nuclear weapons? What then?

A quote from the last page:

‘There are many who believe George Bush is a liar, an President who knowingly and deliberately twists facts for political gain. Buy lying would indicate an understanding of what is desired, what is possible, and how best to get there. A more plausible explanation is that words have no meaning for this President beyond the immediate moment, and so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real. It’s a terrifying possibility.’

At least he’s out of office in 2008. What will happen to Iraq then? The invasion happened two years ago, and the occupation continues. It’s impossible to think it will be over any time soon.

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