‘Pretty F___ing Ignorant’: Seymour Hersh on Americans and Iraq

A gem in the Montreal Mirror, an alternative weekly in the Great White North. Hersh was making an appearance at McGill University, and the Mirror did a set-up piece. The main subject, unsurprisingly, was Iraq. Hersh sounds taken aback by the interviewer, calling him opinionated, obsessional, and tendentious, and remarking, “This is the strangest interview I’ve ever had.” When the interviewer asks a question about Americans’ “willful ignorance” of the world, Hersh protests that he can’t conclude the lack of knowledge is willful, then adds:

“…Americans are pretty fucking ignorant. What we don’t know is pretty huge. You could never accuse Americans of learning from history or learning from past mistakes. You’re talking about a country that went to war in Vietnam with the theory that we had to bomb North Vietnam in order to keep the hordes of Red China from coming, right? Not knowing that Vietnam and China had fought wars for 2,000 years and would fight one four years after the war was over, in ’79. What we don’t know is just breathtaking in my country. To call this ignorance wilful as opposed to general ignorance, I don’t know. On any issue, Americans can display an incredible lack of information. I doubt if there’s a society which has paid less attention to the facts than any else.”

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One Reply to “‘Pretty F___ing Ignorant’: Seymour Hersh on Americans and Iraq”

  1. Seymour Hirsh is pretty hardcore here. I don’t know that Americans are any more ignorant of the world than any other group. I met my share of hard-headed Aussies and Kiwis in my travels. What I reckon makes the difference is our country/government does have the power to do some serious mayhem if that lack of knowledge gets the better. These guys in DC have played on prejudices and nationalism to get the country to go along with their agenda. The problem for these guys, the pols, pundits and opinion makers… everyone from Bush on down to Ann Coulter…is they have to deliver the goods if they want to retain control of the government or have a shred of credibilty. These days they only talk the talk. It is hard to think back to the “bring it on”–Triumph of the Will–moment on the deck of an aircraft carrier. That seems like yesterday and what we have now is shouting, as in, “it’s all over but the shouting.”
    The president can still do the country a big service though. I figure he could start the process (whatever that is?) of bringing the troops home; extricating the country from the morass so that the next president won’t be saddled with Iraq the way it was when LJB handed Vietnam over to Nixon. Iraq has, for the most part, wrecked this presidency. It would be a pity to see it wreck the next as well.

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