Scott Ritter is a republican who voted for George W. Bush. Ritter is also a former UN weapons inspector who opposes war against Iraq.
Iraq is not a nice place. Saddam Hussein is a dictator. Scott Ritter knows that. He doesn't seem to have any illusions about the regime. But a war, Ritter argues, could be truly dangerous for the Middle East region and possibly also for the United States. You can read all about it in War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesnt Want You to Know . Get a copy. The book is brief and illuminating.
Here are a few ot the things Scott Ritter thinks we should consider as the United States marches to war:
1. There seems to be no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In fact, Saddam Hussein is a secular dictator who has spent the last thirty years fighting Islamic fundamentalism: The Iraqis have laws on the books today that provide for an immediate death sentence for proselytizing in the name of Wahabbism, or indeed any Islam, but they are particularly virulent in their hatred of Wahabs, which is of course Osama bin Ladens religion. Osama bin Laden has a history of hating Saddam Hussein.
2. Iraq does have a history of using terrorism as a tool, but it has in those cases been used by Iraqi terrorists primarily focused on Iran, Syria, and on Iraqi opposition members abroad. This is deplorable, but these criminal activities of the Iraqi state do not constitute a threat to the United States.
3. Democracy in the sense of majority rule is not on the agenda of the US war party. This is because a majority (60 percent) of Iraqis are Shia Muslims, aligned with Iran. The only way to support democracy in Iraq, says Ritter, is to lift economic sanctions and let the country reconstruct itself economically: The development of a viable middle class that cuts across religions, ethnic, and tribal lines is the only
thing that can give birth to democracy.
Why, then, is president Bush so keen on war? Is it because of American oil interests? No, thats not it, according to Ritter. The United States can get all the oil it wants:
"The Iraqi Oil minister has made it clear that, once the sanctions are lifted, Iraq will do whatever they can do to ensure the strategic energy requirements of the United States are met."
A thirst for oil does not explain the war fever, then. Neither does Israeli lobbying. Leave Israel out of it, says Ritter. Israel isnt driving this. The real warmongers are to be found in the ranks of American neo-conservatives:
"In the case of Iraq, neo-conservatives are those who, in the past decade, have operated in certain think-tanks -- the American Enterprise Institute comes to mind -- where theyve developed what is, to be honest, a fringe viewpoint on Iraq."
Scott Ritter spent seven years chasing down weapons in Iraq. He is a Marine Corps veteran. When I put on the Marine Corps uniform and was charged with being an officer of the Marines, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, says Ritter. That means Im willing to lay down my life for that piece of paper and what it represents.
This man deserves a hearing.