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Scott Ritter on War With Iran

Posted on Dec 19, 2007
Scott Ritter
Truthdig / Zuade Kaufman

By Scott Ritter

(Page 2)

Harris: Hmm.

Ritter: We heard people speak of a new reality, that the Bush administration can make its own reality.  I’m not joking.  Paul O’Neill, former secretary of the Treasury, who sat in Cabinet meetings where this was said.  And so we now take a look at a situation where the president and his administration are continuing to march forward on a policy direction, regardless of what the data says.  Am I jaded?  No.  I’m alarmed, as much as you are, but I think it’s imperative that we address this responsibly by first realistically acknowledging what’s occurring.  There’s too many pundits out there today who are raising the flag of victory, saying, “Aha!  Because of this NIE, this National Intelligence Estimate, war’s off the table.  We don’t have to worry about it.  The Bush plan has been undermined.”  It most certainly hasn’t, because the Bush administration has never shown a tendency to respect the normal system of government.  This estimate won’t have an impact at all.

Harris: Is it likely that George Bush will look at this report, throw it in the garbage and continue on, business as usual?  The business, in this case: engage hostilely with Iran.

Ritter: The answer is yes.  He is engaging hostilely with Iran.  Remember: I’ve been saying for some time now that the Bush administration is taking the nuclear issue off the front burner.  The CIA’s estimate follows on the heels of a finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency back in September that said the same thing: There’s no evidence of a nuclear weapons program.  And this was one of their final analyses.  They’ve been saying this for some time.  The Bush administration has been, for many months now, having a hard time selling Iran’s nuclear threat as a causa bella.  This is why they’ve shifted to terror and terrorism.  The Bush administration is going to use the gift it was given by the U.S. Senate, this target list of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command to serve as the cornerstone of its target list when it comes to launching a limited military operation against Iran that’ll probably take place some time in the spring.  This is the plan, and the NIE—I don’t think—has changed this one iota.  Now, it could.  Let’s say Congress woke up all of a sudden.  Let’s say Congress said, “Oh my goodness, this president’s been pulling our chain, been lying to us, hyping this thing up.  There’s no threat,” and Congress intervenes in a way that it’s refused to do so to date, then maybe, maybe this war could be stopped.  But if Congress continues to turn a blind eye or worse, as in the case of the Senate resolution, to facilitate Bush’s hyping of Iran as a threat, I think war is inevitable. 


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Harris: They’ve been asleep for five years now.  Why would they wake up now?  Why ...

Ritter: [Unintelligible.]

Harris: Yeah.  Hillary Clinton voted “yes.”  She’s a U.S. senator, she’s running for president, and she said, “Yes, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is indeed a terrorist organization.”  Does this further the idea that “the Democrats and the Republicans—you know what?—they’re all in bed together”?

Ritter: It furthers the notion that front-runners are all in it together.  The bottom line is, Hillary is getting money from the same sources that fund Giuliani.  And if you take a look at their foreign policies, they’re pretty much one and the same.  They’re very aggressive foreign policies.  They’re based upon the premise of a unitary executive, that the president has the right to pre-emptively launch military strikes against threats that emerge, and maybe do so in a manner which negates Congress.  There’s no difference between Hillary and George W. Bush or Rudy Giuliani when it comes to issues of this sort.  There’s other Democrats out there who of course take a more nuanced, I would say responsible, point of view.  Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, an outstanding candidate.  But he’s not getting money from the same sources that are underwriting Hillary and Giuliani and others.

Harris: Scott, tell me what you think our president should be all about these days.

Ritter: The president should govern in accordance with the Constitution.  What we have here is a situation that has existed for some time now where successive presidential administrations, frustrated by the inadequacies of democracy, so to speak—.

Harris: [Laughs.]

Ritter: It’s an ugly process.  It takes time.  It’s not convenient.  And presidents want to wield their executive authority.  And so, especially in time of war, they’ve created this concept—and it’s totally at odds with the Constitution—of the unitary executive where the president has unilateral powers in times of war.  Somebody like Ron Paul, I think, somebody who knows the Constitution, takes a look at this notion of unitary executive authority and says, “Humbug.  That’s ridiculous.”  And I agree with him.  I think it’s imperative that whoever becomes president understands that there are constitutional restrictions on what the president can and can’t do.  I also think it’s imperative that Congress start reading the Constitution and flexing its constitutional muscles.  That there is a role for Congress to play.  It’s called oversight.  And that Congress can retard irresponsible policy, that the president doesn’t get a blank check when it comes to foreign policy and national security policy.  But, as you mentioned, we don’t have a Congress that seems to be enlightened in this fashion, and outside of a Ron Paul we don’t have too many people who have announced themselves as candidates for the president who will publicly commit to reversing this trend towards a unitary executive.

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By Howard, December 20, 2007 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

RE:  post by #121448 by weather on 12/20 at 3:11 am
(Unregistered commenter)

Israel’s Christmas Gifts to America

Give your tirades against a little tiny country a rest, man.

Israel wasn’t even remotely mentioned in the article, and here you are like a pop-up field mouse up and at ‘em again and again making your incessant remarks that are not at all relevant here.

Report this

By weather, December 20, 2007 at 4:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Israel’s Christmas Gifts to America

A jar of Vaseline, another invoice for $ Billions and a nuclear power plant of trouble - all very carefully wrapped and packaged and signed:Made in Israel, we make our problem your problem

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By i,Q, December 20, 2007 at 1:05 am Link to this comment

One last hooray for team USA! i, Mr. Ritter join in your fight song and i demand more from my teammates. My fellow Americans, it’s the two minute warning and we’re down by a score. Time to buckle down, because It’s crunch-time.

We need to stop repeating the tired refrain that our government has been bought up by the corporations and their lackeys and we are powerless to stop them. This thinking is merely a subconscious attempt to deflect responsibility for our government’s failures. In this specious scenario, we gift our very nation to outside, “unassailable” or “immutable” forces—i use quotes here because i don’t think that these self-serving enemies of the common interest are either of those. Instead of holding ourselves accountable for the current state of affairs, we rationalize our broken government without acknowledging that it, simply put, is a reflection of the collective laziness of our electorate.

It is essential that we all take Ritter’s advice and study the playbook of our nation, the Constitution of the United States of America. To be true team players, we must hold our elected representatives to account, and in turn the actions of those who would contrive to abuse elected authority, playing fast and loose with the rules. We don’t have the luxury of blaming it on the referee, because we are the referee. This team plays dirty, and should be ejected from the game.

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By critical point by Ritter, December 19, 2007 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

from the article, Ritter:
“Now I need to make a point here: I continue to say that there’s never been a nuclear weapons program in Iran.  And the National Intelligence Estimate doesn’t provide any evidence to sustain its assertion that there was a nuclear program.”

False assumptions, as mentioned here, are routinely fed to the public by most all of the news network hosts. I remember Geraldo trying to pull this with Mr. Ritter in the latter’s appearance on Geraldo’s Fox show back in the late 90’s. Geraldo was foaming at the mouth to encourage the obliteration of the Iraqi people. Ritter was calm and reasoned, almost to a fault, but as the show proceeded some calmness was induced in Geraldo and the show, actually, had a beneficial effect.

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