Former U.N. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, has been making the rounds of TV new programs and vociferously sounding an alarm that the Bush Administration is being dangerously confrontational with Iraq. He’s what he told FoxNews last night:
RITTER: It is enough for us to be extremely concerned about, but when you want to take action, there has to be justification found in an international law. Let's remember there's two documents --
ASMAN: Isn't that what just happened today when George Bush went to the United Nations?
RITTER: No, actually George Bush was dictating to the United Nations and not trying to work with them.
ASMAN: In what way?
RITTER: He said you must hold Iraq accountable for its actions and if you fail to do so, we will step forward.
The trouble is, when he resigned from the U.N. inspection team in 1988 it was, he said, because the United States was not being confrontational enough! Here’s what he said then on the PBS NewsHour:
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: [The Clinton Administration said] Iraq must be held accountable for the agreement that they have signed with the Secretary-General and which was endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 1154. If Iraq didn't, there would be the severest consequences.
You had this statement on the one hand, but on the other hand, this administration's saying, wait a minute, we can't go forward with aggressive inspections because they will lead to a confrontation with Iraq, but let's understand the confrontation is because Iraq will not comply with the law passed by the Security Council.
So we weren't allowed to do our job out of fear of a confrontation in which the United States would not be able to muster the required support of the Security Council to respond effectively.
A stinging indictment of the Clinton Administration for having the temerity to defer to the Security Council on such a vitally important issue. But wait, today Ritter is indicting the Bush Administration for not deferring to the Security Council:
ASMAN: That's not dictating -- that's just mentioning their obligations under the U.N. Charter.
RITTER: Well, the United States' obligation is to go to the Security Council and seek permission.
Gee, I know this arms control stuff is complicated business, but isn't Ritter contradicting himself? Back in 1998, Ritter was painting a pretty grim picture of Iraq without adult supervision:
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months, reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.
A matter months before he has anthrax-tipped ICBMs and a nuclear bomb factory? YIKES!! Ritter must be really scared now that fours years have gone by . . . right? Well, not exactly:
ASMAN: So you think Saddam Hussein still has these chemical weapons capabilities?
RITTER: No, I said Saddam Hussein has the potential of having chemical weapons capability. We haven't completely confirmed the final disposition of these capabilities and they must be of concern. But to say that Saddam Hussein retains chemical weapons -- there's a big difference between weapons and capability.
Holy smokes. My neck is sore from the whiplash. Is Saddam a threat or not? Was Ritter telling the truth then or now?
I have a possible explanation. Scott Ritter is one of those guys who loses touch with the real world in the course of their work in what one CIA legend called the Wilderness of Mirrors. Other totally unhinged spooks include former NSA chief Bobby Ray Inman, FBI traitor Robert Hannsen, JFK confidante Pierre Salinger, and the man who’s name practically means nutjob, Lyndon LaRouche.
These are people who desperately need structure in their lives. They may be highly intelligent and have strong opinions, but they are unable to make sense of a world where the points of reference have been deliberately obscured.
Foreign policy, and especially national security, is just such a world. To thrive there you need to be able to consider many seemingly valid points of view without constantly changing your own.
Ritter can’t seem to do that. He appears to be absolutely convinced that he is as right now as he was then even though he’s saying two totally different things.
I think the television networks should take it easy on Ritter and give him some peace and quiet far away from the lights and cameras where he can sort out everything.
And make sure to take away any sharp objects.