Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh delivered a grim forecast on the state of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Obama’s foreign policy prospects, yesterday at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Hersh, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for exposing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, spoke as part of a lecture series on American foreign policy.
Currently working on a book on the foreign policy of the George W. Bush (or as Hersh refers to it, Cheney) administration, Hersh began by critiquing former President George W. Bush’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He highlighted differences between Bush and Obama’s styles, saying, “[Obama] cares about words. What drove me crazy about Bush is that words meant nothing to him.”
Through a series of personal anecdotes, Hersh said that especially after 9/11, any adviser who voiced doubts about the progress of the war in Iraq was promptly dismissed.
He said the media was responsible for what he called a total failure to act as watchdogs in what he characterized as a systematic silencing of dissenting voices.
In the second half of his talk, however, Hersh said that in their handling of foreign policy, and especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two presidents have been remarkably similar.
While many were expecting President Obama to dramatically change the U.S.’s foreign policy positions, Hersh said, his administration has instead kept the same personnel and adopted the same policies that were implemented under the previous administration.
Hersh attributed what he deemed Obama’s failure to take a new direction to pressure from the military to escalate the war effort in Afghanistan, and racist undercurrents in the armed forces.
“We have a president of the United States who refuses to be a Commander-in-Chief,” he said.
The lecture ended with Hersh’s sobering outlook on the status of our national security.
“We are in a very perilous moment because we are increasingly disliked,” Hersh said.