The New Yorker is famous for its fact-checkers. So you would think a section actually called “fact” would be under even greater pressure to get things right. Here’s how Sy Hersh begins his latest article : “In July, 2003, two months after President Bush declared victory in Iraq, the war, far from winding down, reached a critical point.”
Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s true. Bush never declared victory. Indeed, even if Hersh & Co. are once again pinning everything to the World’s Most Significant Banner which declared “Mission Accomplished,” and ignoring entirely what the President actually said, they’d still be wrong. I know my military guys will correct me if I’m wrong, but a mission and a war are different things. You say “mission accomplished” when you succeed in a tactical or strategic objective like blowing up a dam or bombing a factory. When the guys in The Dirty Dozen killed all those Nazi officers they could declare “mission accomplished” (except of course for Jim Brown, Trini Lopez, Telly Savalas and all the others who didn’t make it). But they could not declare victory. If the mission was toppling Saddam the mission was accomplished.
You may not buy all of this, but given the New Yorker’s exacting standards, you’d think they’d be a bit less emphatic since they are saying something happened that emphatically did not.