Mar 9, 2014
Chris Hedges and the ‘Other War’
Posted on Aug 8, 2007
Hedges: Having spent two decades in pretty hopeless situations, I’d love to buy into that American method of everything can be made better. Sometimes it can’t be made better, and sometimes you do things that only make them worse. I think that an American withdrawal is pretty clear would unleash a kind of bloodbath between competing factions: Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd. I don’t see much good that’s going to come out of this. I mean the repercussions within the region, because of our blunders, are going to be immense. And counterproductive to American interests. And very possibly leading to a kind of regional conflict, especially if the Bush administration, or the neocons in the Bush administrations, decide they want to start dropping cruise missiles on Iran. You know, the tragedy of the war in Iraq is that the policy that was instituted after the first Gulf War, which was a policy of containment, was working. The Iraqi military was a shadow of what it has been in 1991. The regime was isolated and reviled. Uday, the heir apparent, Saddam’s eldest son, was crippled and nearly killed in an assassination attempt. Saddam was sitting in one of his many palaces writing bizarre romance novels. ... That’s what so sad. And the weapons inspectors, by the way, did their job. I mean, there were no biological or chemical agents left after they destroyed all these artillery dumps which had shells that did have biological and chemical agents in them in the aftermath of the Gulf War. So, we took a policy that was working and substituted for [it] a policy that doesn’t work. And we’re all going to pay the consequences.
Scheer: Well, my point wasn’t that we could fix it in a week or two. I just want to know if it’s a fixable problem in the next 50 years, 20 years, 100 years?
Hedges: The short term doesn’t look good. It depends on so much. There’s going to be a scramble for resources, especially for oil resources. There’s huge water disputes between Syria and Turkey. There’s a lot that could go wrong. And unless we can get some astute management in there pretty soon, both in terms of the United States, the industrialized countries, and the United Nations, things don’t look so good.
Scheer: Now I want to ask another question. You were the bureau chief for quite some time from The New York Times. Do you think they would have printed this if you had given it to them? What would their reaction have been?
Harris: How about the soldiers? Did they have any recommendations for what’s next? Did they give you any indication about what they thought about the war in general now that they were home?
Hedges: Well, I would say the vast majority not only oppose the war, but would want the troops to come home. And that was the motivation for speaking with us. In terms of policy recommendations, beyond that, that really wasn’t, they may have some, we didn’t ask them that; that really wasn’t our focus. Our focus was really tightly controlled. I mean, we wanted to know how convoys were run and checkpoints were set up and how suppressing fire worked, and that was really the focus of the interview. We weren’t writing a policy piece, so those were questions, if they came up, they came up inadvertently.
Harris: “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness.” When is the book coming out?
Hedges: We are going to do a book. ... I don’t know what percentage [of the material] got in the magazine, but it’s certainly somewhere between 5-10 percent, but there was just so much there and so much of it was so powerful that we do want to put it together for a book. And we’ll bring it out hopefully at the beginning of next year.
Harris: Well, thank you, Chris, for joining us. For Josh Scheer and for Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges, this is James Harris, and this is Truthdig.
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