Ed Barba / Herald Correspondent – 2008-04-10 22:59:52
MIDDLEBURY (April 4, 2008) — Scott Ritter, former head of weapons inspection in Iraq who protested there were no weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion, believes the same is true for Iran.
But there is an 80 percent chance of war with Iran, he told about 200 people Wednesday at Middlebury College as part of a series of talks facilitated by the Vermont Peace and Justice Center.
The pattern of preparations for such a conflict has been steadily developing and involves Congress as well as the Bush-Cheney administration, he said.
People ask him if he feels vindicated by the absence of WMDs in Iraq, he said, but “there isn’t any vindication in being right about this one.” A war with Iran would hasten the ongoing decline of American standing in the world, and afterward Russia and China would be ready to take advantage of the resulting power vacuum, he said.
Among the war clouds Ritter cited were:
Preemptive strikes against the two groups most likely to erupt if the United States invaded Iran, Hezbollah (unsuccessfully attacked by Israel) and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army (unsuccessfully attacked in Basra by Iraq’s central government).
Ritter predicted a similarly disappointing showing if the American forces attacked Iran, a country 2-1/2 times as large and populous as Iraq that is much more unified culturally and did not have its army destroyed in a previous war with the United States.
Recent visits to Middle Eastern allies by high officials, ostensibly for other purposes, but really to prepare them for the effects of such a war.
The appearance of the “miracle laptop,” as Ritter called it, a thousand pages of technical documents supposedly from a stolen Iranian computer, which dubiously had just the sort of information the administration needed to support a hard-line stand on Iran.
Congressional supplementary funding for more “bunker-busting” bombs, with a contract completion deadline of April.
Congressional supplementary funding for the extra bombers to carry those bombs, with a contract completion date of April.
Cheney’s order to send a third aircraft carrier battle group close to the Persian Gulf, a necessary bolstering of forces for a war with Iran.
Admiral William Fallon, the first admiral to be head of Central Command, said that level of naval forces was unnecessary and blocked the move. Ritter said that was “a heroic thing.”
The main target of Ritter’s criticisms was an American public that couldn’t pass a test on the Constitution and understands little of international history and politics, and refuses to believe the life of an Iraqi is worth as much as the life of an American.
He began his talk, not by trumpeting the danger of war, but by talking about spring, and the birds that will soon have babies in their nests. Mother birds will forage, come to the nests, see open mouths begging for food, and puke into each one, he said.
Just so, Ritter said, people sit in front of their televisions every night and wait to be stuffed with mushy phrases like “The surge has been successful” and “Baghdad is 70 percent secure” and “We have apparently won the war.”
“The reality of Iraq is that it is a broken nation,” Ritter said. Groups like the Kurds and Shia are not unified groups, there is already a civil war, and most of the opposition to our presence comes from our being the invaders, he said.
“It is far too easy to look for people to blame,” he said. For instance, “we blame the media, but the media simply give us what we’re asking for.”
Everyone needs to start understanding and caring about their Constitutional rights, and everyone needs to start finding the facts for themselves and taking strong individual stands, Ritter said. If you do nothing but take in what the TV and newspapers tell you, “all you’re going to get in return is puke.”
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