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"The national security of the United States of America has been hijacked ..."
July 31, 2002 7:41 AM   Subscribe

"The national security of the United States of America has been hijacked ..." why should'nt we trust what scott ritter has to say - more than bush and his shadowy bunch of cronies?
posted by specialk420 (17 comments total)

 
The one thing I don't like about Ritter is how sure he is that Iraq is not a threat, even though he hasn't been in the country in four years. I mean, a lot can change in four years. But I do agree with him on his views of the use of the US Military.
posted by stifford at 7:54 AM on July 31, 2002


But, but, but. . .think of the children! No seriously, you can line up expert after expert. None of them will agree. I for one am not truly gung ho about an American operation in Iraq, but I see little downside. Go for it. And get all the baby milk factories.
posted by recklessvisionary at 7:59 AM on July 31, 2002


Talk about appropriate user names...geez.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:17 AM on July 31, 2002


... more than bush and his shadowy bunch of cronies?

Come on, specialk420, tell us how you really feel! Don't hold back.
posted by hadashi at 8:34 AM on July 31, 2002


I think John Ritter is one of our most creditable sources of information on "what's really going on" in the Euphrates Valley, and I'm prepared to seriously consider anything he has to say. Ritter's a master of light comedy, and distinguishes even the most dismal material ("Three's Company") with his superb timing, physical nuance and likeable personality. Best of all, he's got a new series, called "Eight Rules for Dating My Daughter," which promises to utilize his talents for domestic comedy to their fullest. I look forward to the success of this new series, as well as Ritter's continuing informed and insightful commentary on Iraq and its ability to trigger civilization-ending scenarios of nuclear and biological warfare.
posted by Faze at 8:35 AM on July 31, 2002


Scott Ritter is apparently the new MeFi flavor of the month. Poor Paul Krugman must feel bad that his time in the spolight was so brief.

Anyway, he claims that: "[Saddam Hussein] is not a threat to anyone."

Now, Ritter is either:

a.) deluded
b.) lying to further his own agenda (which includes making plenty of cash as an "Iraq policy contrarian")
c.) correct, and most all of the other experts on the region are wrong.

Considering that in the same article above he repeats the debunked factoid that "between 4,000 and 6,000 children die every month in Iraq directly as the result of sanctions" lends one to believe that the most likely choice is b.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:00 AM on July 31, 2002


Given that while Mr. Ritter was in Iraq, the Iraqi government had to be putting a great deal of energy into trying to snow Mr. Ritter, and given that if Mr. Ritter had been snowed he'd be saying pretty much what he's saying... Well.
posted by hob at 9:22 AM on July 31, 2002


Well, when Ritter came back from Iraq he was going on about how Iraq was a serious threat, still had biological and chemical weapons, and as soon as the inspections stopped would be able to reconstitute their delivery systems within six months.

It's only now that Bush is suggesting doing something about it that he's changed his mind.
posted by jaek at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2002


Well, when Ritter came back from Iraq he was going on about how Iraq was a serious threat, still had biological and chemical weapons, and as soon as the inspections stopped would be able to reconstitute their delivery systems within six months.

Care to source that? Otherwise, you're just spouting the same chickenhawk talking points that Ritter had to deal with on The Moral Maze last week, and I really don't like the idea of foreign policy dictated by the Cato Institute.
posted by riviera at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2002


ljromanoff, I don't know how you can say that Ritter disagrees with all the other experts on the region. He's disagreeing with those experts who have been given large public play in the US, namely, administration officials. Rather, the bulk of the foreign policy experts outside the US oppose a US attack and agree with Ritter the Saddam does not pose a regional (let alone a global) threat. And, even if Ritter did change his mind from his initial return from Iraq, he's allowed to do that. It's not like he's an elected official who's renegged on promises regarding the environment, balanced budgets, and protection of civil rights. He's an academic, who can change his opinion as new information comes to light. Plus, if you watch Ritter in interviews, he very clear to say how much he despises Hussein and how horrific that regime is to its own people. All Ritter is saying is that he doesn't think the Iraqi threat justifies the huge expense in blood and treasure that regime change would necessitate.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:56 PM on July 31, 2002


Some quotes from Ritter's testimony of September 3, 1998:

"Iraq has not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and world peace."

"Iraq will be able to reconstitute the entirety of its former nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile delivery system capabilities within a period of six months."

"There is no question that Saddam Hussein is the problem here... How you resolve the issue of Saddam Hussein is an issue that's better left to people who's responsibility that is."

And from an article by Ritter in the National Review in December 1998:

"But, based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production"

Do you consider the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Federation of American Scientists "chickenhawks"?
posted by jaek at 1:05 PM on July 31, 2002


Ritter's flip-flop is most notorious, and as jaek shows a matter of public record. If he weren't so determined to push his reductionist quasi-conspiracy framework ("It's all about the elections") he might retain more credibility.

I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say that unspecified "experts" unanimously agree that Saddam is a threat, but it's no lie to say it's a widely held view. Whether he's a threat to the United States directly is a much more debatable point; but it's foolhardy to argue that he would not be a threat to Western interests in the region. Under a hypothetical retreat by the allies, he would certainly be a threat once more to the Shi'a and Kurd populations. He would gain back all the oil revenue, and judging by his spending habits while that's been restricted, it's hardly probable that social services are high on his agenda.

(As I've said before: We can't walk away. We can't continue the way things are. Changing the situation, probably requiring a military intervention, offers the best hope for a better Iraq. Surely it has its downside, but we're in a situation where all our choices are bad ones.)

Ritter is disingenuous to ignore the risks of an unleashed Saddam. Knowing what he knows about that regime, he should be ashamed of the role he's playing.
posted by dhartung at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2002


Ah, 1998. Note the date of that last piece? Note the first sentence? Well, those 'surprise' UNSCOM inspections were superseded by Operation Desert Fox, which is the point at which Ritter quite happily admits he was forced to reassess things, since it pointed to the way in which UNSCOM had been compromised.

As for the 'six months' issue: the question isn't about chemical or biological agents (many of which, if they had been acquired by 1998, would now be past their sell-by date) but the ballistic missile delivery mechanism, which remains either rather well hidden, in the way that functioning ballistic missile systems aren't, or not there. (Now, you can argue that your modern terrorist doesn't need a missile, but then you have to make a different case entirely. We're still waiting that dossier from Bush and Blair.)

Ritter's words in 2000 are a bit more relevant than ones taken before UNSCOM, and his own role within it, was undermined:
...don't judge my position today based upon the narrow interpretation of my words in September of 1998. I spoke as an inspector in defense of the international standards for dealing with Iraq as codified by Security Council resolutions. I spoke in warning that should we continue with our policy we will destroy the framework of international law. That framework has been destroyed and we must seek a way through the Security Council to reestablish that framework.

posted by riviera at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2002


"Iraq has not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and world peace." -- Scott Ritter, 1998

"By the time 1997 came around, Iraq had been qualitatively disarmed. On any meaningful benchmark ... Iraq had been eliminated as such a threat" -- Scott Ritter, 2000

It doesn't take a narrow interpretation of his words to conclude that he was lying in at least one of these statements.
posted by jaek at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2002


It doesn't take a narrow interpretation of his words to conclude that he was lying in at least one of these statements.

Well, only one of them was made after he found out he was a patsy for the CIA.
posted by riviera at 6:09 AM on August 1, 2002


Well, only one of them was made after he found out he was a patsy for the CIA.

So, riviera, how long has William Blum been your pen name?
posted by ljromanoff at 6:21 AM on August 1, 2002


Ritter is at least as credible as anyone in the Duhbya regime. That may not be saying much about his credibility but he's at least as reliable and honest as the chickenhawks there.
posted by nofundy at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2002


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