Yes, you’ve seen Seymour Hersh on television talking about his latest New Yorker piece. No, this does not justify your flipping past Hersh’s article in the magazine in order to get straight to work on this week’s Cartoon Caption Contest. Don’t deprive yourself of Hersh’s report on what “a high-level Pentagon war planner told me,” what “military experts have told me,” what “a retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me,” and what a “former high-level intelligence official told me” — including, for one, that “a key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the president’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower,” but that “within the military, the prospect of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused great unease.”
Hersh calls the current American air war in Iraq “perhaps the most significant — and underreported — aspect of the fight against the insurgency,” noting that “military authorities in Baghdad and Washington do not provide the press with a daily accounting of missions that Air Force, Navy, and Marine units fly or of the tonnage they drop, as was routinely done during the Vietnam War.” Moreover, a “military planner” told Hersh that “there is no sense of an air campaign, or a strategic vision. We are just whacking targets — it’s a reversion to the Stone Age.” Other tidbits from Hersh’s myriad mystery sources include: “Many of the military’s most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don’t want to jeopardize their careers,” and Bush has “become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney … [who] ‘keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway.’”
Perhaps you’d rather read about “wars” being waged in midtown Manhattan among media muckety-mucks? Have a look, then, at David Blum’s story in this week’s New York about “the Anchor Wars, an extended covert operation that will cost combatants hundreds of millions of dollars and last even longer than Ted Koppel’s hair” (we’re cringing, are you?). You may be tempted to skim — yes, yes, we know, ABC and CBS need new nightly news anchors and the pressure’s on to produce another Anderson Cooper — but surely you don’t want to miss what the senior vice president of ABC News tells the article’s author “over lunch at Nougatine, the Jean Georges front-room restaurant that functions as something of a network-news commissary”?
For the latest on battles inside the Beltway, Newsweek this week reports on Democrats’ “secret weapon,” what Richard Wolfe and Jonathan Darman call “a new breed of macho Democrats,” war veterans running for Congress. Writes the duo: “The vets also represent the Democrats’ best hope of burying their GOP-crafted caricature as the Mommy party of John Kerry — unable to defend the country from terrorists or themselves from political attack.” (The press, of course, has nothing to do with helping to shape or perpetuate political caricatures.)
And when you tire of all the war talk, take solace in Time’s cover story — “Triumphs, Troubles & Tea, The Year in Medicine From A-Z” — and learn about how “curling up with a nice cup of hot tea can do your body a lot of good,” according to a “British study of 14 tea lovers” (emphasis ours) — except, of course, when it’s “harmful,” as “too much instant tea” can be.
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.
Yes, hard to believe. But there it is. Among 14 tea lovers, the Brits couldn’t find one that despised tea.