Isabel Hilton’s interview for openDemocracy with Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon papers (published 7 Dec) contains much that is interesting. I guess few people will listen to it as it takes the best part of an hour to do so. Further, the blurb on the web site undersells the content of the interview, and is carelessly written (for example, in the second quote the words “to be killed” are omitted after “any number of Americans”). A well cut and restructured transcript might attract more of the attention this exchange deserves. Here are quick comments:
- Six hundred million dead in
Russia, Chinaand Eastern Europeas a result of nuclear attack in the early 1960s would have been quite a party. Ellsberg does not mention the likely level of casualties in the US, although his reference to the Russian determination to totally anihilate in the event of war is notable. His comments make a useful complement to McNamara’s ninety million or so American deaths – a price which (according to McNamara) Fidel Castro would have been glad to inflict along with the eradication of his own country in 1961 just to make a point. Germany
- The proposition that the
USdoes not plan to get out of until the oil runs out – forty or years or more – may be about right. James Fallows was prescient to describe it as The Fifty-first State. But can it "work"? If Hersh is right, then plans to maintain control by Iraq air power in support of a friendly Iraqi government’s ground forces could run into severe problems. US
- Philip Giraldi’s assertion in The American Conservative that Dick Cheney has ordered plans for a full scale air attack on Iran to be ready by June [05, presumably] would seem to accord with what I heard in Washington on 4 Nov 04 (see my 12 Nov 04 post War Gaming Iran in Grains of Sand Nov 04 archive). Among the notable things Ellsberg says here: “There probably is not one general or full colonel in the Pentagon who wants war with Iran. They are appalled but they are doing the plan, which is always the case”.
- Ellsberg’s two key recommendations for averting an attack on
Iran, which he considers extremely likely (if by the only to avert the Israelis doing it first), should be more widely circulated and discussed. The first is that just a small handful of insiders need to leak key papers now in acts of Zivilcourage. The second is for European countries to put their airspace and air bases off limits for US forces preparing for and executing the attack. This doesn’t look likely at present. But if it is to happen then civil society groups in US Europeneed to start organising now, not a few months hence when it is likely to be too late.