Arms Expert Scott Ritter Denounces the War, Calls for Change
Former UN Weapons Inspector and Marine Scott Ritter spoke in the Hallock Auditorium last Friday, Nov. 30, to a packed house of students and faculty members. Touring his new book, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change, Ritter discussed the situation in Iraq, the global war on terror and the imminent possibility of war in Iran.
A staple in the media in 2002, Ritter is famous for publicly stating that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction while Operation Iraqi Freedom was being sold to the American people. He spoke to students about the timeline of the war in Iraq — how it was planned, justified to the public, and eventually executed — all on the grounds of false intelligence and aggressive foreign policy.
“Pre-emptive war is a policy and a reality,” Ritter said. “The war in Iraq wasn’t an accident — it’s part of a plan for over-reaching regime change in the Middle East. Our leaders aren’t looking to withdraw. Iraq is the springboard to the next target: Iran.”
Ritter engaged the audience with his direct manner and caustic tone. He criticized the Bush administration for knowingly deceiving the American public. “The national security strategy of the USA is to establish regional dominance, defend Israel and oil supplies,” he said. “There’s a word that describes this sort of foreign policy: empire.”
“In reality, the Iraqis didn’t lose the war,” said Ritter, “and we ignore that possibility, because now we’re in the process of nation-building. The insurgency is still fighting, planning to wear out Americans.”
Ritter dismissed positive changes in Iraq achieved by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “All the surge did was create conditions that can be sold to the American political constituency as a success, solving the domestic side of this problem,” said Ritter.
When asked by one student if current foreign policy was an invention of Bush’s or part of the right-wing tradition, Ritter jokingly replied, “In 2009, Shrub is going back to Crawford, Texas — that proves he’s not Hitler. It’s not the individual president, be it Bill, Bush or Hillary. It’s the system.”
“Who do I blame? You. Me. Everyone in this room,” said Ritter, to applause. “We’re addicted to a lifestyle of consumerism. Our elected representatives are holding onto a lifestyle that we can’t maintain with our domestic resources. It’s a wider problem of how America interacts with the world.”