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The Final Act of Submission

Posted on Apr 13, 2007
AP Photo / Petros Karadjias

A guard stands watch on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower after it docked outside Limassol, Cyprus, last October.

By Scott Ritter

In the months leading up to President Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq, I traveled around the world speaking to various international groups, including many parliamentary assemblies.  I spoke about democracy and the need of any nation or group of nations espousing democracy as a standard to embrace the ideals and values of justice and due process in accordance with the rule of law.  I spoke of international law, especially as it was manifested in the charter of the United Nations (a document signed and adopted by all of the countries I visited). 

Invariably, my presentation focused on the nation in question, whether it was Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan or Great Britain, and the status of its relationship with the United States.  As an American, I said, I appreciated each nation’s embrace of the United States as a friend and ally.  However, as a strong believer in the rule of law, I deplored the trend among America’s so-called friends to facilitate a needless confrontation which would severely harm the U.S. in the long run.  These nations were hesitant to stand up to the United States even though they knew the course of action planned for Iraq was wrong. 

Such permissive submission was deplorable, and invariably led to a comment from me about the status of genuine sovereignty in the face of American imperial power.  If a nation was incapable of defending its sovereign values and interests, then it should simply acknowledge its status as a colony of the United States, pull down its disgraced national flag and raise the Stars and Stripes.

Now the tables have turned.  Americans, through the will of the people as expressed in the November 2006 election, voiced their dissatisfaction with the conduct of the American war in Iraq, and empowered a new Democratic-controlled Congress to reassert itself as a separate but equal branch of government—especially when it came to matters pertaining to war and the threat of war. 

This new Democratic leadership has failed egregiously.  Not only has the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, been unable to orchestrate any meaningful legislation to bring the war in Iraq to an end, but in mid-March she carelessly greased the tracks for a whole new conflict. By excising language from a defense appropriations bill which would have required President Bush to seek the approval of Congress prior to initiating any military attack on Iran, Pelosi terminated any hope of slowing down the Bush administration’s mad rush to war.


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Despite the fact that Congress was only stating through this language a simple reflection of constitutional mandate, Speaker Pelosi and others felt that the inclusion of such verbiage put the security of the state of Israel at risk by eliminating important “policy options” for the president of the United States.  In short, Israeli national security interests trumped the Constitution of the United States.

I consider myself to be a friend of Israel, a status which has been demonstrated repeatedly through words and deeds from January-February 1991, when I was involved in the effort to stop Iraq Scud missiles from striking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, to the period between October 1994 and June 1998 when I served as the lead liaison between the United Nations weapons inspectors and Israeli intelligence, working to find a final accounting of Iraq’s proscribed weapons of mass destruction.  I know only too well the precarious reality of Israel’s security situation, and am sympathetic to its need to proactively deal with threats before they manifest themselves in a manner which threatens Israel’s ability to survive as a nation-state.

However, as an American who served on active duty in time of war as an officer of Marines, I also remember the oath I took to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  As such, I am troubled by the recent actions of Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress who have not only abrogated their collective responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution but have taken actions which, under normal circumstances and involving any other nation, would border on treasonous.  Our collective duty as Americans must center on defending the very document, the Constitution, which defines who we are and what we are as a people and a nation.  To have our elected representatives flagrantly push aside their constitutional responsibilities in the name of the security interests of another nation is unthinkable.  And yet it has just happened, apparently without consequence.

Sadly, the new Democratic Congress has cemented its status as yet another iteration of a system which long ago sold its soul to special interests.  Democrats can cackle about Republican scandals, including the Jack Abramoff affair, which brought down Rep. Tom DeLay among others.  But history will show that the Pelosi-led sellout to Israeli special interests endangered the viability and security of America as a sovereign state governed by the rule of law more than Jack Abramoff ever could.

In this time of constitutional crisis, the American people need to wake up and demand that the basic tenets of the Constitution be adhered to.  Congress is solely empowered by the Constitution to declare war.  Demanding that the president of the United States adhere to this prerequisite is a logical and patriotic stance.  Allowing any non-American interest, even one possessing such highly charged political and emotional sensitivities as Israel, to dictate otherwise represents nothing more than a capitulation of sovereignty.  We the people need to rally around this defense of sovereignty.  We must demand not only that Congress reassert its constitutional responsibilities and authority by demanding the president obey the letter of the law when it comes to war, whether against Iran or any other nation, but also to place in check the anti-American activities of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C., the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee. 

For decades AIPAC has operated in the shadows of American foreign policy decision-making, exerting its influence on elected officials away from the public scrutiny of the very constituents who elected those officials to begin with.  It is impossible to hold someone accountable for actions that are kept secret, and as such AIPAC’s ability to secretly influence American foreign and national security policies represents a flagrant insult and threat to the very essence of American democracy.  I am not advocating the dissolution of AIPAC.  However, I am demanding that AIPAC be treated as any other representative of a foreign nation is treated. It should have to register as an agent of a foreign power so that the totality of its interactions with American officials can become a part of the public record.  We require this of all other nations, including our good friends the British. 

To state that AIPAC, and by extension Israel, is above the law in this regard is to acknowledge the reality that American national sovereignty no longer matters when it comes to the state of Israel.  So be it.  But then we are, collectively, no better than those nations I mocked prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as “colonies” of the United States.  So if we are to continue to permit AIPAC to operate as an undeclared agent of a foreign nation, and to influence American foreign and national security policymaking at the expense of our Constitution, then we should acknowledge our true status as nothing more than a colony of Israel, pull down the Stars and Stripes and raise the Star of David over our nation’s capitol.  While representing the final act of submission, it would also be the first truly honest act that occurred in Washington, D.C., in many years.

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By Liz, April 13, 2007 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In “Allowing any non-American interest, even one possessing such highly charged political and emotional sensitivities as Israel, to dictate otherwise represents nothing more than a capitulation of sovereignty.” you probably mean “nothing LESS than…,” but be that as it may, it’s high time to bring transparency to the US-Israel relations.  Thank you, Scott Ritter

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By jmndodge, April 13, 2007 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Keep spreading the word.  Most Americans hear only the official policy.  We fear an enemy far away we don’t know or trust. Without critically examining the issues we can easily be lead to confrontation with Iran, as it were with Iraq.  Four years later most of us no longer trust those singing the praises of intervention, but are increasingly worried about the dangers we have set loose in the middle east.  It is easy to spin this into fear and distrust of Iran, and to look for a military rather than diplomatic solution. The democratic party line is more disturbing than the republican.  Americans see through the rhetoric of the republicans, but buy into the democratic response.  Indeed, the war in Iraq is the result of democratic silence and failure to exercise constitutional duties to know what we were doing. Special interest groups who are not accountable to the people, who express opinion without regard to truth, and raise money for influence are a great danger to the survival of our free society.  Imus supporters no longer heard the ugly in his message. There was no doubt his comment was dumb, but his supporters still don’t hear the culminative effect of these comments.  Little by little our constant vilification of Iran deadens us to reality of the effects of our sanctions or military intervention against them.  People would have been fine with Imus remarks, until they met the team, we need to meet people in the middle east, give faces to the homeless, the wounded, the starving.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 13, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Well, sadly, the foreign political context is that Israel WILL strike against Iran itself if it is left seemingly undefended by the USA. What is worse, though, is that if it does so, it will use WMD’s (whether you believe they have them or not) and eventually will also use WMD’s to strike other major West Asian/Middle Eastern cities from Tunisia to Damascus.

That is the quandary the US has gotten itself into. Using a minority group in the region as a wedge to control a huge fundamentalist religious population in the other countries is about to backfire badly. The only way that can be reversed is for the US to either take control of the Israeli military or to wipe them off the map!

At this stage, even threatening to cut off funding to Israel would only push them into an act of military desperation. That is, they would be forced into attacking with their most advanced weapons before they were overwhelmed. The bombing of Lebanon is proof that they would soon otherwise be beyond their military capabilities.

In a nutshell, that is why the US has been suckered into repeatedly bombing and invading Iraq and even still threatening yet another country with its aircraft carrier attack groups already in the Persian Gulf and harassing Iran. Meanwhile, Bush is still raving about how “evil” Syria supposedly is despite Israel’s recent attack on Lebanon (with bombs supplied by the USA!).

Ironically, it is China along with Russia and the EU group which have the best chance of preventing an insane descent into an all-out regional war - or another Hiroshima and Nagasaki! If the US can’t resolve this peacefully, or allow others to do so, bombing Iran will lead to a further escalation with unforseen consequences - including a possible military move into the region by China.

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By Mike Bendzela, April 13, 2007 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“In this time of constitutional crisis, the American people need to wake up and demand that the basic tenets of the Constitution be adhered to.”

Scott, this is a very nice thought. But what do you suppose “people” are going to do?

The depth of the subversion is evident in its bald-faced persistence in the face of the public’s opposition.

“People” don’t matter.

Now, imagine how the people will act when this administration (and its enablers in Congress) make the final push against the wall and this INEVITABLE crisis happens:

“Oil has peaked and is now going into decline. What do you people want: blood, oil, and a continuing “non-negotiable” lifestyle, or no blood and energy destitution?”

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By Hammo, April 13, 2007 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

As Ritter indicates, many Americans now suspect that all is not what it seems regarding who is pulling the strings behind the Bush-Cheney administration.

Is it oil companies? Other nations who are supposedly “allies” and their operatives within the US? War profiteers? All of the above?

Our nation is in danger from enemies foreign and domestic. Food for thought at:

“Mind Wars: Americans, global community are targets of deception on Iraq, threats to peace”
October 5, 2006

-  -  -

“‘Mistakes’ or ‘plans’ in Iraq, War on Terror?”
February 12, 2007

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By Druthers, April 13, 2007 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I could not agree with you more.  I call this a jello Congress, constantly wobbling, talking big and passing jello bills.  Pelosi would do well to wake up to the fact that she is being played for a fool by Rahm Emanuel and the Clintons whose stance on the occupation of the ME is evident.

Perhaps the only thing to sound a wake up call would be a collaspe of the the dollar that will bring even more dire consequences.

The present policies seem suicidal.

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