Hersh: We have this
wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We
had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them.
Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a
little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have
this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as
powerful inside the country as we like to think he is.
The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the
missile program and if there is a weapons program, they
would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where
does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran
Hersh: Pressure from the
White House. That's just their game.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What
interest does the White House have in moving us to the
brink with Tehran?
Hersh: You have to ask
yourself what interest we had 40 years ago for going to
war in Vietnam. You'd think that in this country with so
many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same
dumb thing again. I have this theory in life that there
is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everything
is tabula rasa. Everybody has to discover things for
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Even
after Iraq? Aren't there strategic reasons for getting
so deeply involved in the Middle East?
Hersh: Oh no. We're
going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of
this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East
and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always
thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies
like most people breathe and you can't have that in
public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around,
I'd actually be relieved because I'd know that the
madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this
case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes
he's doing God's work.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So what
are the options in Iraq?
Hersh: There are two
very clear options: Option A) Get everybody out by
midnight tonight. Option B) Get everybody out by
midnight tomorrow. The fuel that keeps the war going is
SPIEGEL ONLINE: A lot of
people have been saying that the US presence there is a
big part of the problem. Is anyone in the White House
Hersh: No. The president
is still talking about the "Surge" (eds. The "Surge"
refers to President Bush's commitment of 20,000
additional troops to Iraq in the spring of 2007 in an
attempt to improve security in the country.) as if
it's going to unite the country. But the Surge was a con
game of putting additional troops in there. We've
basically Balkanized the place, building walls and
walling off Sunnis from Shiites. And in Anbar Province,
where there has been success, all of the Shiites are
gone. They've simply split.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is that
why there has been a drop in violence there?
Hersh: I think that's a
much better reason than the fact that there are a couple
more soldiers on the ground.
SPIEGEL ONLINE:So what
are the lessons of