Americans took out the Nord Stream pipelines in a military operation that amounted to an act of war against Russia. Or so according to the latest bombshell dropped by famed US investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Not only that, but if what he claims is true, Washington did so with the full knowledge and active cooperation of the Norwegian government, another member of Nato. Well, I love a sensational story as much as the next hack and have been a big fan of Hersh since I was in college. Having read his piece published on Wednesday on substack.com, I have to say he told a perfectly coherent, sensible and logical story, which, however, lacks real proof. The United States does have the means and the motive to destroy the whole Nord Stream project that had, until recently, supplied Russian natural gas to Germany and the rest of Europe. But, and this is a big but, Hersh fails to provide the smoking gun. For all its sensational claims, the story doesn’t provide much that is new or useful, as people like yours truly have always thought the Americans had every reason to do it; we just don’t have proof. Call me prejudiced. Even so, the Hersh piece is still worth reading because it provides a cogent explanation of the importance of the Nord Stream pipelines in the context of the war in Ukraine. White House rejects report that US was behind Nord Stream sabotage Bombshell Cheap natural gas had helped fill the Russian state coffers and fuelled the German industrial and business boom in the past two decades. Germany, the most powerful country in Europe, therefore threatened to be the weak link in the Western “united front” being put together by Washington and Nato against the Russians in Ukraine. It’s often pointed out by critics that replacement natural gas provided by American suppliers cost four to five times more than that from Russia, so the war is proving to be an energy bonanza for the US. But the profit motive may not be so strong as to compel the Biden White House to risk an act of war. On the other hand, getting Germany on board for an all-out Western proxy war against an expansionist Russia was clearly worth the risk. Once the pipelines were destroyed, Germany would have no incentive to maintain any economic ties with Moscow. Traces of explosives found at Nord Stream pipelines confirm sabotage It’s intriguing that the governments of Sweden and Denmark – in whose maritime exclusive economic zones the explosions occurred – had investigated the incident and concluded that it was “a result of sabotage”. An interesting choice of word. Given the military expertise and technical sophistication required to carry out the operation, it looked more like, to use a favourite accusatory phrase of the US government, a case of “state-sponsored terrorism”? Good theory and Hersh is not the first to suggest it; he is just brave enough to stake his empirical claim. But is there actual proof? Credibility The problem with Hersh is that in recent years, his exposes have been hit-and-miss. He is certainly one of the great legends of American journalism. The guy exposed the My Lai massacre by US troops and its subsequent cover-up by the Pentagon during the Vietnam war, and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal during the US occupation of Iraq. He was also among the first to investigate Richard Nixon’s secret and illegal bombing of Cambodia, which destabilised the country so much as to enable the emergence of the genocidal Khmer Rouge. His nearly 1,000-page The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest political texts of the last century – and a page-turner, at least for me. Before I read it, I thought Kissinger was a brilliant diplomat and scholar. Afterwards, he was more of a war criminal. Now, though, I think those roles are not incompatible, at least for someone as complex as Kissinger. The Samson Option , Hersh’s book on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons programme and its deterrent doctrine, was also an eye-opener. On the other hand, some of his recent claims about the US government’s account of the killing of Osama bin Laden and the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war have, it seems to me, been legitimately challenged. I won’t repeat the claims and counterclaims here, as you can easily Google them. US government rejects claims that account of bin Laden kill mission was fabricated to help Obama re-election Like his previous exposes, his latest on the Nord Stream bombing heavily relies on a few unnamed sources. In the past, he has argued that his stories were so politically sensitive that people’s careers and even their lives could be threatened if their identities were disclosed. His latest report, presumably, is no different. But when you rely almost completely on anonymous sources, there is no way for your peers – even with the greatest of goodwill – to check and verify your stories, and it becomes easy for your enemies to pick them apart. And unlike his past stories, which were published in reputable news outlets, his latest is self-published and has had no editorial vetting. I happen to believe his story. But then, I am prejudiced.