Hersh to speak on Middle East policy at Seminars at Steamboat

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Sey­­mour Hersh

If you go

What: Seminars at Steamboat presents Seymour Hersh

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Strings Music Pavilion, Pine Grove and Mount Werner roads

Cost: Free, but tickets are required and can be picked up starting at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Strings Music Pavilion.

— When it comes to the Middle East, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh admits he’s no ray of sunshine.

“It’s a mess,” he said. “I just have the usual dark view of the world.”

So expect at least a little doom and gloom at his free talk on Thursday at Strings Music Pavilion, the second installment of the Seminars at Steamboat summer lecture series.

Organizer Jane Stein, who has known Hersh for decades, said his knowledge and expertise on the areas he has covered as a journalist for many years will shine through.

“I think what he’s going to bring is very interesting,” Stein said. Two weeks ago, speaker “Robin Wright talked about the Arab Spring uprisings from the perspective of countries themselves. What (Hersh) is going to talk about partially is what Arab Spring means to U.S. foreign policy.”

Hersh’s talk takes place at 5 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are free and available for pickup at 4:15 p.m. at the pavilion.

Hersh, a regular contributor to the New Yorker, first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for writing about the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. He published two books on the subject in the 1970s, “My Lai 4: A Report on The Massacre and Its Aftermath” and “Cover-up: The Army’s Secret Investigation of the Massacre at My Lai 4.”

His 2004 book, “Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 To Abu Ghraib,” reports on the U.S. military’s mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Hersh followed closely the events that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a subject that is going to be a part of his speech Thursday.

With the deadline to pull out combat troops from Iraq set for Dec. 31, Hersh said he doesn’t see anything changing for the better.

“So here we are, a useless war in Afghanistan, a useless war in Libya, Iraq might fall apart next when we pull out,” he said. “And who’s going to listen to us?

“America’s always going to be taken seriously, but right now we have no juice.”

Hersh cites the neo-conservative government of former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as what he calls a current lack of leadership in the Obama administration, as fuel to the fire for the situation in the Middle East.

“We’re not seen as the good boys anymore,” he said. “I thought Obama’s biggest mistake was not telling Congress to go to hell and close Guantanamo Bay down anyways. Because Guantanamo is a symbol to the Arab world of the hypocrisy of America.”

Stein said that foreign policy topics have been popular with the Seminars at Steamboat crowds throughout the course of the program’s nine years.

It’s a subject that is ever developing, ever changing and ever relevant.

On Aug. 15, Seminars organizers will bring former Iraq and Afghanistan ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to Steamboat for yet another perspective.

“The story hasn’t ended yet,” Stein said.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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