Journalist predicts war in Iraq will plunge U.S. economy into downturn
Colorado Springs Gazette
CRYSTAL CITY, Va. President Bush's willingness "to take a lot more body bags" from the Iraqi war will plunge the United States economy into a tailspin as European nations further distance themselves from the war with boycotts of American markets, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist predicted on Friday.
"I just see very hard times ahead," Seymour Hersh, who broke the Abu Ghraib prison detainee scandal story last spring in The New Yorker magazine, said in a keynote address to about 100 people attending the Military Reporters and Editors conference.
Hersh, a legend in journalism circles since he exposed the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, earned the Pulitzer in 1969 for international reporting. Last spring, he again grabbed worldwide attention by reporting the abuse of Iraqi war detainees who were threatened with unmuzzled dogs, stripped naked and subjected to other forms of what some believe was torture.
He said Bush's dismissal of opposition views on the war and his insistence the United States push ahead against an insurgency Hersh called "the war we started" will have profound impact on the economy.
"This president believes in what he's doing. He is prepared to take a lot more body bags," he said. "He is going to fight this all the way. The bombing has gone up exponentially ... How are we going to end this if the president's convinced that he has to see this through?"
He predicted Europe will find new ways to "gang up on us." Key NATO nations have resisted involvement in the war after the United Nations refused to sanction the military assault that began in March 2003. Some countries that did cooperate have since pulled out.
"You're going to see American profits disappear. American corporations are going to be in big trouble. It's going to be a mantra not to buy American," he said. "All our major manufacturers are reporting major slowdowns in Europe. You're going to see the dollar disappear. Economically, this country is going to be in trouble and he's going to continue to fight this war."
Hersh suggested the administration open talks with the insurgency, which he described as the only form of government existing in Iraq today, to end the war. He acknowledged that's not likely, given Bush's stance.
Hence, he said, journalists' jobs are tougher because government officials won't speak openly about options, fearing retribution due to Bush's perspective that opposition is equivalent to treason.
"There are people here in this town (Washington, D.C.) at high levels and lower levels in the different agencies that know how bad it is," he said. "Getting them to talk is going to be the problem. I don't think we can."