Preparing for War With Iran?
Steve Sellery – westchesterweekly.com September 29, 2005
Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, made a strong case that the Bush administration is preparing to take the war to Iran in a speech he gave at the United Church on the Green in New Haven on Sept. 17 before an attentive crowd of about 250.
The gathering, sponsored by Squeaky Wheel Productions, Between the Lines Radio Newsmagazine, WPKN and the Yale Coalition for Peace, was perfectly timed. Ritter spoke the day before the visit of Cindy Sheehan, the mother who still wants President George W. Bush to tell her why her son died. In his speech, titled "Parallel Deceptions: The Bush Agenda for War in Iraq and Iran," Ritter made it clear that her son died because of deceptions by the Bush administration that led to the Iraq war and that are preparing us for war in Iran. It is all laid out in the Wolfowitz-Cheney gang's document "Project for a New American Century" where the neocons plan for military domination of the Middle East.
Scott Ritter is an imposing man. Big and burly, he still looks like the Marine Corps leader who led a dozen men in combat. He began his speech by remarking wryly that he could never have imagined being sponsored by peace groups. He was and is a military man, a card-carrying member of the American Legion. "I still believe in war," he said. "It's just that this is an illegal war and every day it takes us further from our goals of peace."
Ritter's controlled anger at the Bush administration was apparent. This is not the anger of a peacenik, but of a military man who has been deceived by his leadership. "It's not the fault of the military men on the scene in Iraq," he said. "They are just taking orders. When you and your 12 men are face to face against the enemy, you have to focus on staying alive and winning your mission. The military men and women are doing what we as a country have asked them to do."
"Iraq is a nation on fire," Ritter asserted. "And our troops are the fuel that feeds that fire." Make no mistake about it, he added, today is the best day that we are going to have in Iraq. It is only going to get worse. Why not get out of Iraq on the best day? We do not need to wait until it gets worse.
Ritter summed up the current Iraq conflict as an "illegal" war that is the result of a decade of deception by the U.S. government and the CIA. After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the U.N. Resolution called for the removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. This was done. Colin Powell, who was then Joint Chief of Staff of the military, told the president not to take over Iraq because we did not have a plan for managing the aftermath; and without a plan there would be ethnic bloodshed. Bush took his advice. The CIA told the president that with economic sanctions, we could squeeze the Iraqis until they deposed Saddam Hussein. The CIA thought it would take six months.
Weapons of mass destruction were used as a justification for the economic sanctions on Iraq after Kuwait was liberated. But, Ritter noted, the first Gulf War came close to destroying all of Iraq's capabilities. These were only "high school-like programs" to develop WMD, Ritter said. However, the U.S. government hyped up the threat to make the economy collapse so that Hussein would be thrown out. Bush signed the order to the CIA that made getting rid of Saddam Hussein goal No. 1.
During the run up to the Iraq War, the Iraqis were letting arms inspectors into the country, Ritter explained. The Iraqis said they had destroyed much of their capabilities. Ritter said inspectors had evidence of most of the destroyed capabilities, but they could not verify the last remaining weapons. "It's impossible to prove a negative," he said. "The CIA kept saying that some remained and at the time we could not prove them completely wrong. Now we know.
"The CIA said there were 140 SCUD missiles in Iraq and we proved them wrong," he added. "The CIA reduced that number to 14 missiles and said they would not budge from that number. And they were right about one thing--they never budged from that number. But it was politically motivated from the beginning."
On to Iran. Ritter maintains that the Bush administration plans to go to war with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Our government says we can't trust the Iranians because an oil rich nation does not need nuclear energy. But in 1976 (when Donald Rumsfield was Secretary of Defense and Dick Cheney was the Chief of Staff under Gerald Ford's presidency), the Shah of Iran told the United States that he needed nuclear energy to diversify his country's energy program for security reasons, in case the Persian Gulf were militarily blocked or if there was massive damage--natural or manmade--to its oil wells. The U.S. government agreed with the Shah's logic then, but has since changed its position, because, as Ritter noted, the neocon strategy is for regime change throughout the Middle East, despite the fact that the same people who once approved of Iran's nuclear energy program, are now opposed to it.
Iran has been complying with all international laws in regards to international inspections of its nuclear energy program. There is no legal way to oppose it, so the Bush administration is saying that it's a front for weapons of mass destruction, according to Ritter. If the United States asks Iran to shut down its nuclear energy program, and this request goes to the U.N. Security Council, Russia and China have said that they will oppose the request. In that scenario, Ritter said, the United States can fall back on Bush's Sept. 17, 2002 New Security Agreement and say that U.S. security is threatened and that the only solution is war.
Ritter said that one reason we cannot find a way out of the Iraq War is that so many members of Congress voted for the war and are afraid to change their position. The only solution is for the American people to vote out of office every elected official--Republican or Democrat--who refuses to change his or her position to one of immediate withdrawal. This includes Democrats like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Biden, who are sticking by their pro-war positions as they run for president. Until we purge all of these people from office, they will send us to war in Iran, Ritter predicted.
Following his speech, Ritter took questions from the audience. One person asked about the permanent military bases in Iraq. Ritter said that the United States started with 120 military bases and is consolidating them to 40 with the plan to consolidate further to 14 and then to four major bases outside of the population zones. Iraq will become our "lily pad" in the Middle East, he said. It will allow us to withdraw our troops from Saudi Arabia, but still provide us with the capability to strike in Iran, Syria, etc. However, the Iraqi people want us out of their country completely, he said. They will not accept these permanent American military bases.
A second person asked Ritter what he could tell his high-school-aged children. Ritter responded, "I have two girls, 12-year-old twins. We need to make this world safe for them and their children. When I speak at high schools around the nation, I tell the students that my generation has failed them. Yes, we have failed them. They should not listen to us, because we have created a world of permanent war, and because we lie to them on a regular basis. Do not trust your government, I tell them. Trust yourself. Question authority. Take responsibility for the world. Take action. Only you can save the world."
Last updated 04/10/2005