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Interview: Scott Ritter's view of western policy on Iraq



This is a transcript of an interview that took place between Scott Ritter
and some members of a US peace movement. Transcript circulated by Nicholas
Arons, FOR [bsp@forusa.org].

********************
Date of interview: June 24, 1999

Nicholas Arons: Let's begin with current developments and work our way
backwards in time. What are your impressions of the recent developments on
the Security Council. What do you think of the British proposal, which the
US appears to support?

Scott Ritter: All the new resolution shows is that the United States and
Great Britain have no serious position. The US is not a sponsor of this
resolution; they are in the background. They are putting an awful lot of
pressure on people to put this resolution forward. It is strongly flawed for
a number of reasons. One, it's illegal. It is a huge step backwards from [UN
Resolution] 687 in that 687 says that if Iraq complies, the sanctions are
lifted. This one basically ensures sanctions in perpetuity. With its 120-day
blocks Iraq will never regain control of its economy. There are two steps in
the economic rehabilitation of Iraq and the Iraqi people. One is the lifting
of sanctions and the second is the reconstitution of the economy. The
economy cannot be reconstituted from the outside, it has to be reconstituted
from within. The Iraqi government and the Iraqi people have to take control
of their economy and their way forward. This resolution gives no hope for
that. Having said that you now understand where the US is coming from. They
know that this resolution is not going to pass. This is an effort for the US
to be seen as moving forward on the issue when in fact all it does is put
something on the table that they know Iraq will reject, and Iraq has already
rejected it. This gives the US continued justification to pursue its regime
removal policy, which is the major factor in US foreign policy towards Iraq
today. I just wish people would see the transparency of this effort. It's
not serious arms control; it's not serious anything. This is hypocrisy at
the highest levels and I am disturbed by it. This is what I tell
Congressional staffers - about the flaws of the Iraq Liberation Act. They
are doing nobody any favors by continuing to pursue this. Achmed Chalabi and
the Iraqi National Congress, despite their personal democratic beliefs, are
not a democratic organization insofar as Iraq is concerned. It's a disparate
group of people who if it were not for US diplomacy would be at each other's
throats. This is not a unified voice, they have no chance whatsoever of
removing Saddam Hussein from power, and by having Congress pass the Iraq
Liberation Act they have politicized this. They have taken it out of the
realm of reality and put it in the realm of politics, tying the
administration's hands. How can you pursue a policy of arm's control and
disarmament in Iraq under the blanket of international law when your policy
of regime removal is the exact opposite of that. There is this political
reality called the Iraq Liberation Act passed by the Republican-dominated
Congress and force-fed to the Administration, and the Administration did not
have the strength to reject it.

Clayton Ramey: I understand that the bill appropriation called from $100
million. Has the military equipment transfer happened?

Scott Ritter: No. The Administration is right to say, "These guys aren't
ready for military equipment." The Administration is saying that the
opposition has to get its own internal act together. Because the
administration recognizes that by arming these people all your doing is
setting up the Middle East equivalent of the "Bay of Pigs"  Achmed Chalabi
and others in the opposition are pushing very hard for the US to commit to
large-scale military actions; that is the trap in all of this. This isn't an
opposition, this is a front for major US military movement against Iraq. But
there is no support for that in the region, either in Kuwait or Saudi
Arabia. It's just distancing us further from the neighbors of Iraq; people
who aren't supporters of Saddam Hussein, but who recognize that Iraq needs
to solve its own problems. People who also recognize that there are
twenty-two or twenty-three million innocent people stuck in this game of
power politics. The US policy is so far off base and removed from reality it
is... it's ridiculous. At least we realize with regard to the opposition
that we cannot put guns in the hands of these people right now.

Bert Sacks: Do you see any similarities between the bombing of the civilian
infrastructure in Iraq and its consequences, and what we've just done in
Yugoslavia?

Scott Ritter:  I have been very careful from the outset not to portray
myself as a Yugoslav expert or a Kosovo expert. I know as much as about that
as you do and anyone who reads the papers. I am a concerned citizen. I feel
comfortable when I talk about Iraq -- I can be labelled as an expert on Iraq
but on Kosovo. I just don't know enough about what the bombing campaign did
in Yugoslavia and Kosovo to draw informed parallels. What I can say though,
because the one thing that links the two is the foreign policy team in the
United States: Berger, Albright, and company. In the case of the Balkans
what you see Albright talking about already -- she has put forward some
internal working papers on that, is the recognition of the need for a
mini-marshal plan to bring the Balkans out of this catastrophe.  They
recognize the fact that there has been tens of billions of dollars in damage
and that if you are going to have meaningful growth in terms of bringing
stability to the region and keeping Serbs away from the Albanians' throats,
Albanians away from the Serbs' throats, everybody away from the Gypsies'
throats.  If there is any hope of that it is the link to economic growth.
These people have to pull themselves out of these doldrums. Now, why the
clarity of thought exists in the Balkans and doesn't exist in Iraq, I don't
understand.  We should not be talking about further destruction in Iraq we
should be talking about how we can bring Iraq out of its current situation,
and I believe there is a requirement for international economic assistance
to Iraq, to help reconstitute the Iraq economy. A Marshall plan.  It's
something I've called for.  The difference between Iraq and the Balkans is
that Iraq can pay for it. Iraq is sitting on the oil and thus the means to
actually fund its rehabilitation.  It will need a jump-start.  It will need
assistance, but the world isn't going to bankrupt itself rehabilitating
Iraq, whereas in the Balkans the thirty to seventy billion dollars that are
going to be required are going to have to come from somewhere else because
it's not coming from the Balkans. They do not have the means to pay for
that.  But again, the clarity of thought, and maybe its that fact that
Kosovo brought us to the brink of disaster.  I personally think that Kosovo
is a disaster.  The foreign policy team of the United States recognizes the
need for a Marshall plan type economic reconstruction campaign in the
Balkans. I just wish that they would see that that same sort of effort is
going to be required in Iraq, and that everything that we are doing
diplomatically, politically, etc. in Iraq is counterproductive. It is not
engendering any stability; it is in fact engendering instability. If you are
talking about regime removal you are only making Saddam stronger. Everything
happening now is just strengthening Saddam, it's not weakening him. We are
going to lose in Iraq. I am not so worried about the prestige. We are the
world's sole remaining super-power. There is not a nation or a
combination of nations that could stand up to us on any front, except maybe
morally. I am not worried about the prestige of the United States. What I am
worried about is the fact that our policies are just continuing the
suffering of innocent people and actually bringing the Middle East to the
brink of yet another war. From an American's perspective it's going to cost
American lives.  And that's something I think the American people have no
clue about.  They are sitting here thinking Saddam and anti-Saddam thoughts,
the evil of the Iraqi tyranny, etc. They don't understand that our policies
are killing six-thousand kids a month. Every time I speak and bring that
fact up people are like: "What?" They are just totally divorced from the
reality of what is happening in Iraq. Then when you also say that in three
to five years your sons and daughters, your husbands and wives, your mothers
and fathers, are going to be over there fighting and dying. Again, I don't
believe in the inevitability of war. I believe war can be avoided, but the
current policies of this administration are pushing us to the point where
there will be a war -- another war in the Persian Gulf and that is something
that can be headed off now. 

Doug Hostetter: For many years you supported and headed up the United States
efforts in Iraq in the UNSCOM program. Why did you support it at the time
and what lead you to change your mind?

Scott Ritter: I supported it because it was international law. The UN
Security Council passed a resolution that is binding on the United Nations
charter, and it called for something that I think was good -- the disarming
of Iraq.  I think disarmament is good.  In retrospect the concept of
imposing a severe disarmament regime on a sovereign state, no matter how
noble in intention it might be, probably isn't practical unless the Security
Council is willing and able to stay focused on the effort.  I think that is
one of the lessons of the UNSCOM experience: don't blame the inspectors, we
were doing our job.  Blame the security council that created us and failed
to support us.  Blame the member states that took something that was noble
and perverted it for their own reasons, their own self-serving interests.
Fingers point at the United States primarily in using the weapons inspection
process not so much as a vehicle for disarming Iraq, but rather as a vehicle
for containing Saddam and for gathering information that could be used to
remove Saddam.  The US perverted the system; not the weapons inspectors.  I
didn't head anything up, I was part of a team. I started out as mid-level
member of the team and then rose to be in the upper echelon. I wasn't the
head of UNSCOM, I wasn't the deputy head of UNSCOM, I wasn't third in
command. I wasn't fourth in command. I wasn't in command of anything but my
little team. My little team happened to have a lot more weight behind it
given what we were trying to do.  We weren't going after biological weapons,
chemical weapons, ballistic missiles.  What we were going after was the
regime that was cheating. We were going after the command and control of the
Iraqi concealment mechanism that was hiding the weapons, because the tactic
that I felt would succeed was that we needed to break through that
concealment, identify it, recognize it, break through it to get to the
weapons.  As long as we were chasing the weapons that concealment mechanism
would always be
one step ahead of us. This was very controversial. This was very
confrontational. This was very contentious. It was somewhat successful, but
it was escalating tensions and the Security Council wasn't able politically
to keep pace with what we were doing, even though everything we did
conformed with the mandate given by the Security Council.  I never once
deviated from that mandate. When you say I was supporting US goals, the
answer is "no" -- the US goals were regime removal. I was a US citizen
working for the UN conforming to the UN mandate. But that mandate started
getting blurred with US policy. I never did regime removal, I never did
sanctions continuation; what I did was arms inspection. I don't believe that
there should be a linkage between economic sanctions and arms control -- the
two don't mix.  It's bad policy to put on economic sanctions, period -- you
are making the wrong people suffer.  But that's the decision someone else
made. Our job was to disarm Iraq as quickly as possible.  My job was to find
weapons -- we undertook an intensive intelligence campaign to gather
information on where these weapons were. Then we needed to send inspections
teams to Iraq to find these weapons.  The US didn't like that. Simply put:
they didn't want that kind of resolution because if you disarm Iraq you lift
the sanctions. The last think the US wanted to do was lift sanctions.
Sanctions are a vehicle of containment.  The accelerated inspection work
that we were trying to carry out ran afoul of US national security interests
as set forth by this Administration.  I had a problem with the inspection
process being used by the US to serve its interests rather than the
interests of the world community which created UNSCOM.  I didn't want to
delay inspections or carry out half-baked inspections, which would give the
US and others an excuse to prolong economic sanctions, because I, like other
Americans, am not into killing kids.  UNSCOM took advantage of this very
strong resolution which gave us sweeping capability to go after the regime,
not by removing it, but by getting into the mindset of Saddam's inner circle
who were the ones directly responsible for the movement of weapons.  To go
after that regime we had to get into their minds - what they did, how they
thought. We were the only ones in the world capable of getting into the
mindset of Saddam's inner circle, and the US used that. They put pressure on
Richard Butler, who should go down in history as one of the most duplicitous
people in the history of the United Nations. This is a man who is supposed
to be an international civil servant, who sold out to the US from the very
beginning and then lied about it repeatedly.  Butler did more to destroy
UNSCOM than anybody. Butler allowed UNSCOM to be used by the United States
and others to achieve objectives which had nothing to do with the Security
Council mandate.  That's why I resigned. I just wasn't really part of that
game.  Then I decided to speak out because I felt like everything we were
doing was moving in the wrong direction. We had to get back on track to what
the Security Council mandate is, and then confront the Security Council with
the question, "Is it working?"  Don't blame us -- the inspectors -- we're
doing the job.  It's obvious that the Iraqis are not going to comply to the
level at which you want them to comply, so maybe it's time for the Security
Council to re-evaluate what it is they want to accomplish in Iraq. I really
think its time to approach Iraq's disarmament as qualitative disarmament.
There is no doubt that they're hiding stuff from the weapons inspectors.
What they're hiding are drawings, blueprints, some components, some
material. I call it seed stock. It's the stuff you could put on the back of
the truck, move it out to the farm, and then at some point, you can plant it
and use it as a base to reconstitute weapons. Even in ballistic missiles,
you have components that can be used to build the missile at a later date,
but by themselves they do not constitute an operational ballistic missile.
By themselves, the biological capability and chemical capability are not
chemical weapons or biological weapons programs. When you ask the question,
"Does Iraq possess militarily viable biological or chemical weapons?" the
answer is "NO!" It is a resounding "NO".  Can Iraq produce today chemical
weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a
meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No!  It is "no" across the board.
So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed.  Iraq today
possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction capability. The danger
is in pursuing this quantitative disarmament effort. We are pushing Iraq
towards having no alternative but the reconstitution of its weapons program.
Why? One, Iraq is faced with the most powerful enemy in the world -- the
United States. They'll never be able to match us conventionally. Never. The
only way they'll be able to leverage whatever power they have, regionally,
is through weapons of mass destruction. Two, while we're on our single
minded pursuit of disarming Iraq, we're ignoring the fact that Iran, their
neighbor, is in the process of building huge chemical and biological weapons
capabilities, including long-range ballistic missile capabilities, and
nuclear weapons capabilities. Everything that we are seeking to rid Iraq of,
Iran has, Israel has. Iraq is surrounded by people who possess these weapons
or are moving toward the possibility of possessing these weapons, and I
believe that when you talk about disarming Iraq you have to bring the
discussion into a regional context. But that regional context is missing
from everything we're doing vis--vis Iraq.  

Nicholas Arons: You used the word containment to describe our policy in
Iraq. Given what you've said here and written in your book -- that Iraq
doesn't have the capacity to use chemical, biological, or nuclear missiles
-- why are sanctions still being sustained?

Scott Ritter:  Because Saddam Hussein is still in power.  Plain and simple.

Doug Hostetter:  Some of the discussion is that there are the scientists, or
there are the textbooks, or there is a jar hidden somewhere that might
contain seed stock for a biological weapon.  But if you go to that level
there is obviously no way that Iraq could prove that it had gotten rid of
weapons of mass destruction.

Scott Ritter:  We were setting the standards for determining 100%
disarmament so high that we couldn't even meet it.  We signed the Chemical
Weapons Convention, the CWC, and tried to abide by it, but we made mistakes
right and left.  However, we recognized the mistakes, and tried to fix them,
to be honorable about them.  On the CWC, we made a declaration. Inspectors
come to our facilities and find that our declaration is false.  Does that
mean that we have a covert chemical weapons capability?  Of course not.  It
means that we made a mistake, and now we have to correct it.  We have to do
what it takes to get back into compliance. We are the United States, and I'm
not trying to give Saddam Hussein the moral equivalency that the United
States has, but I do believe that it's disingenuous to acknowledge that we
are capable of making mistakes, and on the other hand interpreting
everything the Iraqis do as having nefarious intent.  This is a nation that
has been devastated by a war, bombed to hell and back, and then it has these
brutal economic sanctions which leave the country in disarray.  There will
be mistakes.  This is also a nation that is ruled by people whose single
intent is to stay in power.  They will cover as many bases as they can.
Right now such people see their neighbors' weapons
of mass destruction, they see the inevitability of conflict with the United
States, and they're not going to give up their weapons.  When Madeleine
Albright made the awful statement in March of 1997, that economic sanctions
would continue while Saddam was in power regardless of weapons disarmament,
she basically closed the door on any hope that the Iraqis would get rid of
their weapons.

Bert Sacks: Both secretaries of  state, and both presidents have maintained
that as long as Saddam Hussein is in power, we will maintain economic
sanctions. So what we're saying is that we're going to maintain economic
sanctions to coerce the population of that country into rising up. The legal
definition of  terrorism is an act dangerous to human life done to coerce a
civilian population or its government. If it is done outside the territorial
boundaries of the United States it's international terrorism. I can't see
any way to look at our public statements except as admissions that we are
attempting to coerce the civilian population of the country to rise up and
overthrow its leader, or to coerce the leader to abide by resolutions. And
the price is, as you correctly quoted in the book, 43,000  children every
year. Is this not terrorism? If not, why not?

Scott Ritter:  There is no way I'm going to call the US government a
terrorist government.

Bert Sacks:  But that's not what I asked.  Is this action not an act of
terrorism?

Scott Ritter: If it's an act of terrorism then the people perpetrating it
are terrorists.  I think that we are a good country; the best country on the
face of the earth. No one will ever get me to change that.  We make mistakes
- horrible mistakes.  I believe we are making a horrible mistake right now.
Sometimes the people who formulate policy have to make very, very tough
decisions.  If the threat that Iraq posed to international peace and
security was so great that it required us to undertake these actions in
Iraq, I would be supportive of it.  When you look at the grand scheme of
things, and you have two hundred fifty-eight million Americans who are being
threatened by the Iraqi regime, then I will balance the two-hundred-fifty
million Americans as being more valuable than twenty-two million Iraqis if
their government is wrong.  But that's not the case. That is not what is
happening. I think the US has totally skewed the equation by giving Saddam
more weight to his threat to the point that they think their policies are
justified. Saddam doesn't pose that threat.  Therefore these policies are
not justified.  There's no way you can justify what the US is doing in Iraq
right now. I will call them unjustifiable, immoral, but there is no way I
can call them terrorist acts.  The United States is not a terrorist nation,
the government is not a terrorist government.  We have some pretty poor
formulators of policy in place right now.  I often have internal debates.
There's this concept of indicting Milosevic.  I look at the hypocrisy of
what we say about Milosevic and I compare our support of Tudjman and what he
did in Krajina, where we basically encouraged him to ethnically cleanse a
quarter of a million Serbs.  Thousands were butchered, raped, brutalized.
Where do we start drawing the line?  Tudjman? Or do we go further, to people
who encourage Tudjman? Are we saying that Bill Clinton is a war criminal? I
am not saying that. We are very loose with our morals. We will say that
Milosevic is a war criminal but we won't say that  Tudjman is a war
criminal.

Bert Sacks: Part of this work involves people in the peace camp talking to
people in the military and vice-versa. Is there anything you would like to
say to the peace movement?

Scott Ritter: Keep the military out of it. The military doesn't formulate
policy. If you are going to go to war you need to have pureness of purpose.
The military exists to kill. Plain and simple. There is no reason to have a
marine sniper other than to put a bullet through the skull of an enemy at
one thousand yards. Bingo. That's it. He exists to do that. He doesn't
formulate policy or dictate where he goes. He operates within the framework
of international law. He is trained to respect the Geneva conventions and
trained to understand that he only obeys a lawful order. He is not a robotic
killing machine. American servicemen are not that way. We are very
disciplined in our approach to war.
So keep the military our of it. The Peace Movement should be talking to the
formulators of policy, the people who put the military in the situation. I
believe that we have to have a military just like we have to have a cop,
since no matter how great society is there will be that ten per cent that
deviates from the norm. There will be that ten per cent in the world. But
there is a major difference between fending off an Adolph Hitler and fending
off an illusory Adolph Hitler. We have a tendency to demonize quickly
because we don't understand. What you see in Iraq is the fact that our
formulators of policy have no clue what Iraq is, who the Iraqis are, who the
leadership is. We try to apply own our  perceptions of morality and ideology
to an environment that we just do not understand.
You are dealing with people that are addicted to power. People who get
caught up in this national security atmosphere, it's very heady, there are
up there in rarefied air. People thinking, "If I write a memo today a bomb
can be dropped tomorrow. Wow. I am so neat." He is not special, he just
happens to have an important job. He would be special if he did that job
correctly. If he did good work. But people get lazy. They are as human as
anyone else. I don't know how to change that. You would be beating your head
against a brick wall by going after the government directly. You are going
to lose. They have all the power. You have no power. That is the reality.
They control taxes. You don't. They control law-making. You don't. But who
does the government work for? The people, and the people of the United
States are very lazy. They pull that little lever and put people in office
and it's like automatic pilot. People live in their own little cocoon of
life and they just assume the government is doing the right thing. If I turn
on the light and the power goes on people think: somebody is doing something
right, America works! But when you focus on Iraq, the government is failing
miserably. The government is doing an abysmal job. How do you change that?
What I have noticed going out speaking is that there is almost no
dissension. Everyone is disturbed by what they are hearing. They are saying
what can I do? Write an informed letter to your congressman. The realities
of American politics are such that if that fax machine keeps going off and
letters keep pouring out questioning the morality of American foreign policy
in Iraq, that Congressman is going to become a big-time activist. That is
what I recommend to you: take your argument to the people. Take your
argument to the people in a way that is palatable to the people.

Nicholas Arons: Can you tell us about Ameriyah.

Scott Ritter: There is no comparison between Ameriyah and Auschwitz [as FOR
literature has in the past suggested]. Auschwitz was genocide of the most
brutal kind; Ameriyah was a legitimate military target, which had women and
children in it and we didn't know. The Iraqis were using it as a command and
control facility, for routing messages. This is irrefutable. If we had known
that it had women and children we would never have targeted it. Never! We
were so focused on preventing those sort of casualties among the Iraqi
civilians. We didn't know. We dropped the bomb. People died. It was
horrible. This is not Auschwitz. That's one of the problems - you lose
people with statements like that. I am not saying that Ameriyah was not a
horrible thing - it was - there were so many children there. I have seen the
shelter. It is not a nice thing. It is a gruesome reminder that if there is
any way to avoid war we must. In war, innocents suffer, even
unintentionally.

Bert Sacks: I do not think of Ameriyah as Auschwitz. I do view sanctions as
Auschwitz.

Scott Ritter: Now we are on a different plane altogether.

Bert Sacks: Not only are we willing to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths
but we are willing to accept this because they are Arabs, Semite peoples-

Scott Ritter: It's racial politics-

Bert Sacks: They are not Christian.

Scott Ritter: We would never allow 500,000 Jewish children to starve to
death. We would never allow 500,000 British children to starve to death.
It's racial politics, we all know that. We allowed about 1.9 million
Sudanese to live on the brink of disaster. It's pure racial politics, there
is no doubt about that. The difference between Auschwitz and what is
happening now is that legally speaking Saddam Hussein has the key to turn
this off. The concept of us trying to save the Iraqi people from Saddam
Hussein is ludicrous. He is a brutal dictator. He may torture to death 1,800
people a year. That is a lot. That is terrible. I am not saying this is
acceptable. We kill 6,000 a month. Let's put that on a scale. Why does he
torture these people to death - to stay in power. There is a cause and
effect relationship to everything that goes on. Economic sanctions have
created a tremendous amount of instability in the regime and so the regime
cracks down harder to stay in power. Maybe if you lifted the sanctions there
wouldn't be this instability. These facts should be shouted out to the
American people. This is insane what we are doing. Totally insane.
Especially if you go back and reevaluate Iraq's disarmament from a
qualitative standpoint. They have no weapons of mass destruction capability
worth the terminology. Iraq can be used positively to start regional
disarmament. We need to get weapons  inspectors back in Iraq, and I think
the Iraqis will accept them. They will. We need to lift sanctions. There can
be an immediate trade-off. We have discredited our moral authority.

Bert Sacks: The other problem in Iraq is that the infrastructure is
destroyed.

Scott Ritter: The UN system for distribution is working. The UN receives
food and distributes food. The UN receives medicine and distributes
medicine. The UN system is functioning. But, Iraq is not functioning. So it
does not matter if we can distribute food because the effects of economic
sanctions are such that we will never relieve the suffering of the people
unless billions of dollars are infused. But the US says: the system is
working. The problem is that the Iraqi society is devastated.

Nicholas Arons: Tell us about how the promotion for your book is going and
what your plans for the future are?

Scott Ritter:  I am not promoting the book. The book I have written,
Endgame, is a spring-board of ideas. It is a way of communicating with the
American public. It has not been as successful at communicating as much as I
would have liked. If people want to find out more about Iraq it is there. I
have to stay on target. I made a commitment to get US policy changed so I
will do what I can.

Nicholas Arons: Tell us about depleted uranium. It has been used in Iraq and
Kosovo. There is speculation that it relates to high increases in cancer
rates.

Scott Ritter: I just do not have the data. I know we used DU extensively.
The former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has called the US war criminals for
using depleted uranium. There is a lot of speculation. People go in and say
that the background radiation already in Iraq is higher than what would be
caused by depleted uranium. Others say the cancer rates have shot up after
the Gulf War. That could be depleted uranium, or it could be the fact that
oil refineries were bombed and people consumed lots of carcinogenic
chemicals, or that the water table has been polluted. The environment of
life is drastically different than before the Gulf War. It's like Gulf War
syndrome: is it only depleted uranium or is it other things too. No one
knows. It is there. Is it a combination of a sand flees, stress, tension,
and depleted uranium? We do not know the answers. In my opinion there is a
problem in southern Iraq, no one can deny that there is a problem. The
question is what caused this and what can we do about it? I am not jumping
on the depleted uranium bandwagon since I do not have enough data to make
those linkages. No one has enough data. We are not going to help the
deformed children until the sanctions are lifted.
I am not absolving ourselves of responsibility. There is a moral
responsibility for the consequences of war. When we get into a war we have
to think long-term. It is more than putting troops on the ground and winning
a political dispute. We need forward thinking policies.

Bert Sacks: Why did you take this risk of publicly resigning? Why did you
step off  the cliff?

Scott Ritter: I know what makes me tick. I just know that when I look in the
mirror in the morning I need to be pretty happy with myself. I was waking up
looking in the mirror saying why are you in Iraq and what are you doing? You
are supposed to be carrying our UN mandate and you are not being allowed to.
Then there is a choice: do you go quietly or do you go noisily and try to
change things. My training as a marine corps officer taught me that you
cannot back away from a problem. You have to tackle it head on, whether that
problem is sniper who I have to kill or that problem is failed foreign
policy in Iraq. We were being ambushed by the Administration on Iraq so I
jumped off the cliff and I am still falling. I would never hold other people
to my standards of what made me do that. I am married, I have two children
who are helpless, her parents are refugees who have nothing.
--
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