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The following article
is reprinted from the Gannett Newspapers chain in Indiana. Shannon Lohrmann,
reporter, covered the Scott Ritter talk in Indianapolis on August 21, 2002
for The Journal and Courier, Lafayette; the Chronical-Tribune, Marion; The
Star Press, Muncie; and the Paladum-Item, Richamond. The following copy of
the article serves as a "fair use"
for educational purposes. This website has no authority to grant
permission to reprint this article.
inspector says Iraq not a menace to U.S. War
talk more for 'domestic political reasons'
talk more for 'domestic political reasons'
By Shannon Lohrmann, Journal and Courier
INDIANAPOLIS -- It may seem an unlikely position for a U.S. Marine and former weapons inspector to take, but Scott Ritter does not think the United States has a national security problem with Iraq.
Instead, he thinks current discussions on going to war with Iraq by the Bush administration are for "domestic political reasons."
Ritter, who spent seven years in the 1990s as the chief weapons inspector of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq and served 12 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke to a crowd of more than 150 in Indianapolis on Wednesday night.
"I am against war, not because I am a pacifist, but because I think war is a bad thing," he said. "Before we send Americans off to fight, kill and be killed, let's exhaust all of the other options first."
The town hall discussion, which included six other panelists, was sponsored by the unlikely pairing of the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center and the Hudson Institute.Ritter's controversies started when he was a weapons inspector. The Iraqi government accused him of being a spy for the United States while investigating Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs.
He resigned from UNSCOM in 1998 in protest of policies of the administration of then-President Bill Clinton.
Ritter questions recent reports that Iraq holds stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, most of which was destroyed when he was a weapons inspector."It's clear to me that the issue is not weapons of mass destruction," he said. "It's not a national security issue. When you do this for domestic political concerns, you have a problem.
"That is why I am speaking out."
A retired member of the U.S. Marine Corps disagreed that the military should wait for more of a threat before attacking, arguing it is in the United States' best interests to remove Saddam.
"It's easier to fight a small brush fire than a major forest fire," said Gen. Carol Mutter. "Nobody likes to fight, but somebody has to know how. And sometimes there are times when you have to do that. It's much better to fight before the weapons of mass destruction are there."
Other panelists talked about the consequences of a full-scale attack against Iraq.
Political science professor Pierre Atlas of Marian College agreed that Saddam is an evil man, but said attacking his country might not help the other residents.
"What comes after there is no unifying vision for a post-Saddam Iraq?" he said. "There needs to be more discussions on options other than war."
John Clark of the Hudson Institute agreed, saying just because the United States' military is larger than all other national militaries is not reason to attack.
"We struck Afghanastan with a very big hammer and the rest of the world looks like nails," he said. "When we are thinking about consequences, we can't just think about whether we are going to succeed or not."
Several prominent Republicans and U.S. allies have raised concerns about an imminent attack.
Iraq has not allowed U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country since they left in late 1998.
Major U.S. allies, including Germany and Canada, hinted recently they would not join President Bush in a military strike against Iraq unless a better case for an attack could be made.
Many of the countries surrounding Iraq also have not agreed to serve as launching pads for military forces.
Ritter charges that is because none of the countries near Iraq see that country as a "grave and immediate concern."
"That's why we are standing alone," he said. "There is no immediate threat."