Scott Ritter’s Overdue I Told You So
(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)
There’s a bit of news on Iraq, which has yet to be deciphered fully. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari is "ready" to give up his bid for Prime Minister. But consider that written in pencil. Saturday is the next date the Iraqi legislators will deal with the issue of forming a government. Let’s just say the people of Iraq deserve their utmost commitment to move forward.
Via Juan Cole comes a heads up on Scott Ritter’s most recent conversation and interview. It’s a long overdue "I told you so."
Back in the fall of 2002, six months before George W. Bush sent U.S. troops rumbling across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, a Time reporter noted to Scott Ritter that some right-wingers were calling Ritter “the new Jane Fonda” and wondering what he’d call his new exercise video.
“If they want to have an exercise video,” snorted Ritter, “then why don’t they come here and say it to my face and I’ll give ’em an exercise video, which will be called, ‘Scott Ritter Kicking Their Ass.’”
But don’t think this chat is a slam on all things Bush without bringing in past administrations. It won’t make anyone in the Clinton administration happy either. However, the real nuggets have to do with Iraq and Iran. The following assessment from Mr. Ritter is addressed to the American people, but I believe should first be directed straight at George W. Bush.
They can’t even find it on a map. Let’s start with that. And those who get the superficial coverage in the news say, “Oh, well, Iraq”—they can say three words about Iraq: Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd. And now they think they understand Iraq. The fact that many Americans feel affronted that Iran, Iraq’s neighbor with a long history of interaction with Iraq, would somehow deign to get involved in what’s going on and say, “Iran has no right to get involved”—well, again, that just shows ignorance of the situation.
When Americans can start parsing out the different Kurdish factions, tell me their history, who they’re politically aligned with, the nature of their own internal conflict, when they can spell out the huge number of Shi’a factions and tell me the difference between a secular Sunni and a tribal Sunni and a religious Sunni, then we can begin to come to grips with the complexity that is Iraq. But right now Americans, if they even know anything about Iraq, will simplify in terms of Kurd, Sunni, Shi’a, and, again, that’s just reflective of an overall ignorance of a very, very complicated situation. (source)
The biggest problem with the Iraq war is that our government misunderestimated the damage, the task, the culture we were entering and the history of the people Bush and the neocons wanted to drag into democracy. The Iraqis didn’t ask for this blunder. They didn’t expect such carnage and incompetence. Now, Bush and Rumsfeld have brought Iraq into civil war, with no honorable way out. Even the Iraqi people are frustrated with their legislators, who live in the Green Zone, while the people of Iraq face death every day.
As for Iran, Ritter raises what worries me the most and it isn’t going nuclear. It’s regime change.
That’s why when I speak of Iran, I say be careful of falling into the trap of nonproliferation, disarmament, weapons of mass destruction; this is a smokescreen. The Bush administration does not have policy of disarmament vis-à-vis Iran. They do have a policy of regime change. If we had a policy of disarmament, we would have engaged in unilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranians a long time ago. But we put that off the table because we have no desire to resolve the situation we use to facilitate the military intervention necessary to achieve regime change. It’s the exact replay of the game plan used for Iraq, where we didn’t care what Saddam did, what he said, what the weapons inspectors found. We created the perception of a noncompliant Iraq, and we stuck with that perception, selling that perception until we achieved our ultimate objective, which was invasion that got rid of Saddam. With Iran, we are creating the perception of a noncompliant Iran, a threatening Iran. It doesn’t matter what the facts are. Now that we have successfully created that perception, the Bush administration will move forward aggressively until it achieves its ultimate objective, which is regime change. (source)
What Ritter has to say about Ms. Cindy Sheehan will likely upset some folks, but challenging people on subjects some consider sacred is a good thing. It’s an eye opener.
Added note: Please also see what Senator Harry Reid had to say about Iran. Give ’em hell, Harry.