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Message Randolph Holhut
DUMMERSTON, Vt. These days, when I open up the newspaper or listen to the news on the radio, it feels as if the rest of the world is speaking Urdu.
I try to do a simultaneous bullshit-to-English translation, and it makes my head hurt. The lies and outrages come flying at me so fast, it's nearly impossible to keep up.
And I do this for a living. As a newspaper editor, I have to care and pay attention.
I try to imagine what it's like for the blissfully ignorant, the folks who don't worry that the world is going straight to hell, but I can't.
I find it hard to believe that so many people don't care, or worse, think things are just fine. Even more unbelievable is the thought that many people who think like this are in the news business.
Seymour Hersh's story in this week's issue of The New Yorker detailing how the Bush administration has "increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack" ought to be big news. For the most part, outside of our corner of the Internet, it's not.
The possibility, reported by Hersh, that tactical "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons might be used in such a campaign should scare the hell out of everyone. But it doesn't seem to.
The White House continues to maintain the facade that it is vigorously pursuing diplomatic options to deal with Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, and the corporate press pretends that President Bush is being credible.
The Bush administration tries to knock down Hersh's report, which relies heavily on his many inside sources in the military and intelligence communities, and the denials are given credence in the corporate press.
There's only one problem with this picture. Given what we now know about the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq that Bush wanted war from the day he took office and focused his administration's efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on finding justification for an invasion of Iraq the words about diplomacy regarding Iran ring hollow.
While few dispute Iran's nuclear ambitions, there is considerable disagreement over how soon Iran might develop a nuclear weapon and whether it really wants to.
But Hersh writes that preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power begins with "regime change." Already, the Bush administration is putting the "another Adolf Hitler" label on Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and believes a bombing campaign will convince ordinary Iranians to rise up and overthrow him.
Hersh quotes a former defense consultant as saying that "the president believes 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."
Of course, if he "saves" Iran the way he saved Iraq, Bush's legacy will be somewhat different.
We know this president and his administration has lied to us about Iraq. Can we trust them to act wisely and prudently in dealing with Iran? Recent history suggests we can not. And that's why we can't allow the corporate press to get away again with enabling the Bush administration to lie its way to another war, a war that promises to be even more disastrous than Iraq.
Here is the moment for the press to redeem itself for failing to inform the public in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The unbullied and unbribed journalists out there must keep the scheming of the Bush administration on the front burner and command the attention of the American people.
We now know the script the Bush administration is reading from and know the strategy it is following. We know the White House thinks that if it worked once, it will work again. We know there's a election coming and with the Republican Party's approval ratings in the toilet, a war looks like a good idea. It's out there in plain sight.
Our job is to convince all Americans that a unilateral U.S. attack on Iran is an insane idea and that using nuclear weapons is even more insane. At the risk of sounding like a hopeless optimist, it's a job that we must succeed at doing. The cost of failure is too horrible to contemplate.
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Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at
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