SCOTT RITTER WARNS: "WE ARE ON THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS"
Synopsis by Mark Jensen
United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
January 27, 2007
The Berkshires of western Massachusetts are known for their peacefulness and tranquillity, a reputation that encouraged the Shakers to establish a community there in 1790. But it was not to speak of peace and tranquillity that Scott Ritter went to the Berkshires this week. On Wednesday, January 24, America's Cassandra arrived at the Woolman Hill Conference Center in Deerfield, Massachusetts, to warn of the likelihood of impending war with Iran.
The following is a synopsis of the principal points made by the former U.N. weapons inspector, whose warnings about Iraq in 2002 proved to be so prescient and who has so accurately predicted the development of events since the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sentences and expressions in quotation marks are verbatim transcriptons.
The Bush administration has a Middle East policy, not an Iraq policy or an Iran policy. U.S. policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are all of a piece, along with policies toward Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, as well. For the Bush administration, these constitute an entire strategic region of interest in which, motivated by "American national interests" that "revolve around energy supplies," the U.S. is seeking: a) "regional transformation" as a "single policy objective"; b) control of the "flow of oil to developing economies around the world, including China and India, so that we can control" their access to energy; and c) ways to support Israel that are at present fixated on preventing Iran from mastering nuclear technology.
George W. Bush is not, in fact, in the business of making policy for the U.S., but in the business of selling it. Thus his remarks invariably obfuscate matters rather than clarify or explain them, mingling near-opposites like Shia and Sunni, Arab and Persian. Just as "the Evil Empire" was invented by Reagan as a justification for U.S. action anywhere in the world, so Bush's "Global War on Terror" is being used as a means of empowerment for the military-industrial complex.
In the Bush 43 administration, "the crazies in the basement" that the Bush 41 administration kept under control -- the neoconservatives -- have come out of the basement and have taken over the policy apparatus. The goal of this faction has been, and remains, global domination, as expressed by the Project for a New American Century, a document that is pretty much identical to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America documents in the Bush 43 administration.
The timeline of events at present is being determined not by external necessity, but by imperatives defined by the Israel lobby.
Bush claims the authority to act, and as matters stand he is right. Congress in 2002 ceded to him the authority to carry out these designs. Thus on Jan. 23, in his State of the Union address, Bush linked Osama bin Laden to Iran, and no one in Congress objected.
The window of strike opportunity against Iran, Ritter believes, will open in March, after a third U.S. carrier battle group moves into place. (The USS Ronald Reagan will be leaving San Diego for the Persian Gulf sometimes in February, following the USS John C. Stennis, which left Bremerton this month.)
A significant risk exists that a situation will develop in which what the administration considers to be "usable nuclear weapons" will be employed in a "preemptive" fashion. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the edge of the abyss. We can sit here and talk about Iraq all we want. . . . But the bottom line is, this Congress has so abrogated its responsibilities of oversight that it has diluted whatever power it once had to affect American foreign national security policy. Unless this Congress somehow awakens, there's no hope of preventing armed conflict with Iran."
Bush has not so far been challenged by Congress. The judiciary has already said it will not get involved. If Congress abrogates its constitutional powers to a unitary executive, the courts cannot stop the president. "The only thing we can do is to somehow implore our representatives to invoke the power of the purse. They can't stop the president from attacking Iran, but they can certainly say, 'You're not going to attack it with U.S. taxpayers' money.' The Boland Amendment in 1982 .&nbps;. . [led to] a crisis when President Reagan went around [it]. . . . Congress in the end dropped the ball, because this was a constitutional crisis. This is one that should have brought a presidency down, with people going to jail. It didn't happen. . . . It's time Congress came back and reengaged this unilateral executive on the power of the purse." Ritter advocates the passage of an amendment forbidding the use of funds to attack Iran.
The fact that Democrats are in control must not lead to complacency on the issue of Iran. Eighty per cent of the Democrats in Congress attend AIPAC meetings, and give speeches strongly in support of its notion of supporting Israel. "Congress is predisposed toward conflict with Iran. That's the situation we find ourselves in. While we are focused on Iraq, we have an even bigger problem brewing over the horizon. As I said, it's no longer over the horizon, it's done crested the hill, and it's starting to roll straight at us picking up momentum every day that goes by."
Audio link to Ritter's Jan. 24, 2007, talk:
Link to a Don't Attack Iran petition: