Hersh Is Harsh on CNN About Iraq's Future

November 29th, 2005 8:41 AM

Re Mark's report, the "Today" show also brought up Hersh yesterday in assessing the war with Barry McCaffrey and Richard Haass. But I was struck (I shouldn't be surprised) by how gloomy and negative Hersh was in his interview on CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday. Here's the first few exchanges:

BLITZER: All right. Before we get to some of the specifics, Iyad Allawi, these comments he makes in the new issue of "The London Observer" basically saying some of the torture, some of the issues that are going on in Iraq today are as bad if not worse than under Saddam Hussein. In this new article, you report that he has emerged as what you call the favorite of Washington in the run-up to the elections in Iraq.

HERSH: And of England and Tony Blair. Yes, absolutely. I think he's the dark horse. We'd like him to take control. He's a secular -- I think the worry is obvious that everybody's getting aware more and more that we're on the edge of a civil war if we're not in one already. And he's seen as somebody that can support or get some support from the Sunnis, and also because he's a Shia, he can also get support there, secular, not religious.

BLITZER: He's popular in Washington and London. But the question is, is he popular in Iraq? Because he didn't do well in the last elections.

HERSH: Despite our best efforts, we pushed hard for him both legally and illegally, as I wrote earlier. And I think we're prepared to go all the way again. One doesn't know. One doesn't know, by the way, whether these elections have much meaning anyway in terms of what's, you know, what's really happening around the edges. I say it is a civil war there. And it's not in our hands, I think, very much.

BLITZER: Well, if they could get a lot of Sunnis to participate in these December 15 elections, as well as the Shia and Kurds, who are already participating, that would be a welcome, that would be a positive move.

HERSH: The biggest "if" in the world now. If.

BLITZER: You're skeptical that the Sunnis will come aboard.

HERSH: I just think -- I think it's really bad out there. I think it's, you know, if you look at the -- it's just real simple. You don't have to be much of a genius to figure it out, we're almost -- it's Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving of '04, it was much worse than at Thanksgiving of '03.

It's now Thanksgiving of '05, and it's much worse there than it was last year. How is it going to get better next year? What magic is there?