By Scott Ritter
This is America's war.
This is Bill Clinton's war. This is the Congress of the United States' war. This is an indifferent American public's war.
This is our war. We're to blame. We're responsible. We're the ones that facilitated this mad rush to insanity that has occurred
in Iraq today.
November 28th, 2005
On November 17, 2005 in Amherst, MA, 110 heard Scott Ritter speak on war with Iraq and Iran at this Traprock sponsored
Audio may be replayed on radio with email notice to charles[AT]traprockpeace.org and attribution to Traprock for producing
the program. Otherwise, it is for private non-commercial use only. Audio copyright 2005 Traprock Peace Center; all rights
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mp3 audio of talk - 1:04:46 - 64 kbps mono
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Thank you very much for the kind words of introduction. It’s certainly an honor and privilege to be here tonight
to talk with you. Look, it’s an honor and a privilege to be here tonight. I wish it was under better circumstances.
I wish we were here to talk about how good things are happening in the cause of peace, how congress has reversed course and
they’re bringing our boys and girls home, how the Bush administration has woke up suddenly and said, ‘you know,
this concept of global domination through the unilateral application of military force is not sound policy,’ and the
Democrats woke up for the first time in a long time and said, ‘you know, we facilitated this war in Iraq. We’re
as much to blame as George W. Bush.’ But that’s not the case. We live in a time where bad things are happening.
.. . The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we live in very sad times, and, if you reflect long and hard on the reality of the
issue, as I’m sure everyone in this room does, not just sad times but depressing times. I’m not going to say much
here tonight that’s going to give you hope because there’s not much to be hopeful about. We are in a war that
shows no inclination of ever ending. Yes, there’s a lot of rhetoric in congress now about ‘let’s create
new benchmarks that need to be fulfilled in Iraq so that we can have a time table of bringing the troops home.’ But,
ladies and gentlemen, that’s just political rhetoric because the benchmarks they talk about putting in place are unrealistic.
Therefore, there will never be a time line. And let’s keep in mind that this is a congress that voted for the war, Republican
and Democrat alike, and they are trapped by that vote to the extent that they cannot meaningfully interfere with the Bush
administration’s plans on Iraq, and the plans of the Bush administration regarding Iraq was most recently articulated
by Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, when she told the congress of the United States that we will be in Iraq for at
least ten years. All right, this is the reality. See, I told you that it wasn’t going to be very uplifting. This is
the reality, and we have to deal with the reality, because if we don’t deal with the reality, if we don’t have
a true grasp of what is happening as we speak, there cannot be a solution. Now one of the things that they pounded in my head
early on when I joined the Marine Corps was that, before we talk about solving a problem, Lieutenant (because every Lieutenant
has a solution to every problem in the world. We were the smartest people on the face of the Earth. I’m sure you businesspeople
see that with your young executives. High school teachers see that with every new student that comes in. They’re the
smartest, the brightest. They have the answer to everything. ) But the answer to what? What problem are we solving? Don’t
talk to me about a solution until you’ve defined the problem, and right now, In Washington, D.C. and right across the
country, we’ve got a whole host of people now that suddenly are anti-war. It’s amazing how many anti-war people
have come out of the woodwork now that President Bush’s popularity ratings have plummeted down to an all-time low. Where
were these people of courage when we needed them? Where were they when they could have made a difference, when they could
have stopped the war? Well, they weren’t anti-war back then because it wasn’t convenient to be anti-war. You see,
the President had high popularity ratings.
People were trapped by their own ignorance and the fear that is induced by ignorance so that they could not stand up and
speak truth to power because, frankly speaking, most people didn’t know what the truth was. We were told that Saddam
Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and, to be honest, most Americans
didn’t have a clue what a weapon of mass destruction was. They didn’t know what chemical weapons were, biological
weapons were, long-range ballistic missiles. They might have a vague understanding of what a nuclear weapon is, but not really,
not what it takes to build a nuclear weapon. They were so ignorant about nuclear weapons that they bought into the argument
that Iraq, a nation that is sitting on many tons of yellow-cake uranium ore, would have to go to an African country to buy
new stockpiles. They were so ignorant about nuclear weapons that they bought at face value Dick Cheney’s proclamation
that Iraq was acquiring aluminum tubes to build a new family of centrifuges to enrich uranium when everybody who deals with
the enrichment of uranium using the centrifuge method knows that aluminum tubes will never work. We don’t build them
with aluminum tubes. It doesn’t happen. But, no, the American people, informed as always about the complexities of these
very difficult issues, said ‘my gosh, the President has said yellow cake, and Dick Cheney has said aluminum tubes, and
there must be a nuclear threat because Condoleezza Rice has told us ‘we don’t want to wait for the smoking gun
to become a mushroom cloud.’ So like the compliant little sheep that we are, we *bah, bah* get led down the path towards
a war that has been a disaster, an unmitigated disaster, a war based on a lie, a war based on not just the ignorance of the
American public but the moral indifference of those whom we elect to hire office to represent us in our name, namely the congress
of the United States of America.
A lot of people want to call this George W. Bush’s war. It’s a little convenient to say that, especially if
you are a Democrat or somebody who is not very fond of the Republican Party, either a progressive, a Green, etc. It’s
George W. Bush’s war. Well, you know, if that’s what you’ve been calling it, you’re wrong, and, remember,
we’re looking for a solution here tonight. We’re trying to find the way forward. I already told you there’s
not going to be a solution until you’re honest about the problem, and, if you call this George W. Bush’s war,
you already have a problem of definition because this isn’t George W. Bush’s war. This is America’s war.
This is Bill Clinton’s war. This is the Congress of the United States’ war. This is an indifferent American public’s
war. This is our war. We’re to blame. We’re responsible. We’re the ones that facilitated this mad rush to
insanity that has occurred in Iraq today.
In defense of Bill Clinton, and I don’t often speak in defense of Bill Clinton, but, in defense of Bill Clinton,
he inherited a problem. You see, the Iraq problem wasn’t something that Bill Clinton made up. When he came into office
in 1993, we already had an Iraq policy in place, the Iraq policy of George Herbert Walker Bush, Papa Bush. You know, the big
Bush as opposed to the Shrub. And Papa Bush had a policy that, in itself, was a reactive policy on Iraq. See, this is one
of the problems that we face, not just in terms of foreign policy, but I’ll tell you it’s a problem we face as
an anti-war movement, and I call myself part of the anti-war movement even though I’m not a pacifist. I’m anti-war,
and I’ve been to war. I know what war is about. War is the most horrible thing mankind can inflict on mankind because
war is only about man killing man. There’s nothing else. That’s what it does. What happens when you go to war?
I’m anti-war, and here we are reacting. Where’s the proactive thought in the peace movement? We’re reacting.
Bush does this; let’s have a demonstration against what Bush does. Congress does this; let’s have a demonstration
against what congress does. Well, what the hell do we stand for? I know what we’re against, but what do we stand for?
Where’s our proactive policy? But this isn’t just a problem of the peace movement. It’s a problem of the
United States. This is how we got into Iraq to begin with, because we’re reacting. We’re not proactive. When we
first started with Saddam Hussein’s government, he was a terrorist sponsor. He was a client of the Soviet Union. He
was an enemy of the United States of America. This was in the 1970’s. He was somebody who gave safe haven to the Peoples’
Liberation Organization of the Palestinians, and then, in 1979, the good ally of America, the Shah suddenly isn’t in
power in Iran, Iraq’s neighbor, anymore. Someone named Ayatollah Khomeini takes over, and Iran, instead of being a bastion
of western-style, American thinking and defense against the Soviet Union, becomes this festering cesspool of anti-American
sentiment, and Iraq, which was a state sponsor of terror, suddenly becomes an ally of convenience, a secular bulwark against
the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism coming out of Iran, and Saddam Hussein, a state sponsor of terror, now becomes a critical
ally of the United States. So critical, in fact, that we turned a blind eye to Iraq’s policies against the state of
Israel. We turned a blind eye against Iraq’s oppressive policies at home. We turned a blind eye to Saddam Hussein’s
acquisition of chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and long-range ballistic missiles. So long as Iraq is
in the business of killing Iranians and holding the Iranians in check, Saddam’s a good guy, so good, in fact, that George
Herbert Walker Bush sends a delegation to Iraq in the spring of 1990, led by a Republican Senator named Bob Dole, who embraces
Saddam Hussein and calls him a true friend of the American people. A true friend of the American People. This state sponsor
of terror in the 1970’s now, in March of 1990, is a true friend of the American people. And most Americans turn on their
TV, take a look at the news, read the headlines, and go ‘that’s Saddam. Good guy. Two thumbs up for Saddam. He’s
a true friend of the American people.’ Except in August 1990, this true friend of the American people invades Kuwait,
and now the President of the United States has to convince the American people that it’s in the national interest to
mobilize 700,000 American troops to go off and fight in a war against this true friend of the American people. Now how does
he explain the shift? Is the President going to be honest and talk about the complexities of the relationship? Is he going
to talk about the fact that we had a policy of constructive engagement with Saddam, that, yes, we recognized how bad this
man was, but we needed him to stand up against the Iranians, and, now that the Iran-Iraq war is over, we need to make sure
that Saddam doesn’t depart out of the fold, so we constructively engaged with him. We gave him billions of dollars of
agricultural loans that he diverted to acquire chemical and biological weapons, and we knew this but we didn’t do anything
to stop it, that we knew that he was building weapons that threatened the state of Israel, which was why Israel threatened
to attack Iraq, which was why Iraq threatened to burn half the state of Israel? Do we get into the honesty and the complexity
of this problem? Is that the kind of relationship we have with our politicians? Of course not. A general ones told me, “when
you’re explaining, you’re losing, son. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. If you’re explaining,
you’re losing.” And to have the President to stand up before the American people and explain why we’re going
to war, he’s losing politically. I’ll give you a little insight into how politicians really interact with the
people of the United States of America. They think we’re stupid. They think we’re dumb. They don’t think
we understand complex issues. And as a result, they treat us like simple little children. That’s why the President got
up in October 1990 in an effort to convince the American people that Saddam was no longer a true friend. He said Saddam Hussein’s
now a personification of evil, one of the most amazing transformations that’s taken place in modern history. A man went
from being a true friend of the United States in March of 1990 to being the personification of evil in October of 1990. Had
the President left it at that, we would not be at war with Iraq today. He took the next step, and he was on a role, you see.
He was explaining things now to the American people. Saddam Hussein is not just a personification of evil. He is the Middle
East equivalent of Adolph Hitler, requiring a Nuremburg-like retribution for the crime of invading Kuwait and occupying Kuwait.
Once the President uses that language, he has eliminated any possibility of a diplomatic solution, because, once you invoke
Hitler, you have invoked evil itself, and no American politician can ever talk about negotiating with evil. Ladies and gentlemen,
the policy of regime change against Iraq began in October of 1990 when President George Herbert Walker Bush trapped himself
with his own rhetoric. Now how did he trap himself? Because we, the people of the United States of America, are too stupid
to say, ‘excuse me, Mr. President, you used the term “Hitler” too loosely. Saddam may be a bad guy, but
he’s not Hitler, and we disagree with your analysis.’ No, the dumb American people went, ‘yeah, Hitler,
evil. Yeah, we accept that.’ And now we trapped our politicians in congress, you see, because, if the constituents buy
into the notion of Adolph Hitler, the congressmen and women can’t deviate from this policy. Even if congress said, ‘wait
a minute. This is stupid. This is bad policy. We need to go back to the policy of constructive engagement,’ and, even
as bad as that was, it’s better than this rush to war. Now they can’t, you see, because, if a congressman or woman
says, ‘hey, I want to have constructive engagement with Iraq,’ the voters will say, ‘wait a minute. That
means you want to have constructive engagement with Hitler, and nobody has constructive engagement with Hitler. We’ve
got to go to war. We’ve got to get rid of this guy,’ because that’s what we talked about, going to war.
Even as the Security Council talked about a war of liberating Kuwait, when George Herbert Walker Bush compares Saddam Hussein
with Adolph Hitler, it becomes a war against evil, a struggle of good versus evil of biblical proportions that can only be
terminated when George H. W. Bush delivers Saddam Hussein’s head on a platter. That’s what he wanted. I fought
in that war. Yeah, we fought to liberate Kuwait, but we fought to do a heck of a lot more than that. I was part of a targeting
team that tried to track down Saddam Hussein, put a bomb on the place where he was, not because we called this assassination.
We’re far too civilized to assassinate leaders. We simply called it removing critical national command authority targets.
*Laughter* We’re cute with terminology. So we’re going to get rid of a critical national command authority target,
but we didn’t. Saddam survived the war. We liberated Kuwait, a great success for the international community that said
that Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait could not stand, that, by invading Kuwait, Saddam was acting in flagrant violation
of international law, the United Nations charter. That’s why the UN supported the multilateral approach to liberate
Kuwait. That was law, after all. The UN didn’t support the unilateral objectives of the Bush administration, getting
rid of Saddam Hussein. That was never on the UN’s books. That’s why, when the war ended, because it did end with
the liberation of Kuwait, and the troops came home, at first, everybody was wildly cheering. We had great victory parades
in New York City and Washington, D.C. Vietnam was behind us. The American military had stood up to the test and had passed
the test, defeating the world’s forth largest military in a decisive land battle, except the American people maybe weren’t
so dumb after all, because they’re sitting there, scratching their heads, saying, ‘well, Mr. President, you said
this is a battle of good versus evil, and you define evil as Saddam Hussein, and troops are home. We’re declaring victory,
but evil still resides in Baghdad.’ Ladies and gentlemen, the President has a problem, not a problem of national security,
because Saddam Hussein does not pose a threat to the United States of America, especially after the 1991 Gulf War. No, what
Saddam Hussein poses a threat to is the political fortunes of George Herbert Walker Bush. Saddam Hussein’s survival
is a political embarrassment to George Herbert Walker Bush, and George Herbert Walker Bush turns to the CIA and says ‘what
do I do? We have to get rid of this character, Saddam. He’s causing me some political problems here at home.’
The CIA said ‘don’t worry, Mr. President. Six months max, and that guy’s gone. He can’t survive the
war, the devastation, the economic consequences of sanctions that were imposed in 1990 that are squeezing the country.’
They said, ‘all we have to do is contain Saddam for six months, and he’s out of here,’ which is one of the
reasons the President said that the Iraqi people must take things in their own hands, and the Kurds rose up in the north,
and the Shi’a rose up in the south, we stood by and did nothing while Saddam Hussein turned to surviving remnants of
his military on the Kurds and on the Shi’a and crushed them.
You see, there was a calculation going on. Yeah, we didn’t want Saddam Hussein in, and here’s the ultimate
hypocrisy of regime change. See, regime change means more than just getting rid of a leader. It means getting rid of a system.
When we speak of regime change in Iraq, we’re talking about getting rid of the Baathist party, the system of oppression
that has the Sunni minority holding in check through violence and coercion the Kurdish and Shi’a majorities that exist
in Iraq. That’s regime change. We didn’t want regime change. We weren’t politically threatened by the Baathist,
and they didn’t pose a national security risk to us. In fact, the Baathist Party was an asset to the national security
of the United States because we recognized that Iraq was a nation state that was, in effect, a failed nation state, and, if
you took away the glue that was Saddam Hussein and the Baathist party, Iraq would devolve into chaos and anarchy that would
have the Shi’a fighting the Sunnis, the Sunnis fighting the Kurds, the Shi’a fighting each other, the Sunni fighting
each other, the Kurds fighting each other. No, we didn’t want regime change. We wanted the Baathists to stay in power.
We wanted Sunni domination through military force and a police state. Our problem wasn’t the regime. Our problem was
a political problem because of the name Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was equated to Adolph Hitler. The Baath Party was not
equated to Nazism, so we could live with the Baath Party. We just couldn’t live with Saddam Hussein. We had to get rid
of him, get rid of a man, because of political problems for a President. Isn’t this already disturbing, that we’re
talking about going to war because some politician has a political problem, that American boys and girls might be called upon
to die in a foreign land because of a politician’s political problem? I always thought, when I joined the military,
that I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic. It never
once crossed my mind that I might have to go out and fight and die in a foreign land because of a President’s political
problem. But that’s what’s happened. This is what has occurred here. The President has a political problem. He
tells the CIA to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The CIA says, ‘well, we could have helped the Kurds. We could have helped
the Shi’a,’ and they say, ‘no, no, no. We don’t want the Kurds or the Shi’a to win. We want
the Baathists to be in power. We just want Saddam gone.’ Ah. What we need to do then is to create the conditions in
which the Baathist Party turns on Saddam. They’re already unhappy because the military was defeated in a war. They’re
already unhappy because the economy has been shut down because of economic sanctions. If we can continue to squeeze Saddam’s
regime, somebody’s going to apply the 75-cent solution, the cost of 1 9mm bullet in the back of Saddam’s brain.
That’s what we were hoping for. The best way to contain him? Economic sanctions. They were in place as we speak in 1991,
but they were linked to the liberation of Kuwait, which has been achieved.
And so now, many people are sitting here going ‘hey, you know, Iraq’s sitting on the second largest proven
reserves of oil in the world. We’d like to gain access to that oil, because oil means money, and money means that I
get to buy a yacht and a vacation in the Bahamas. I like oil, but I can’t get to the oil as long as sanctions are in
place. Let’s lift the sanctions.’ But, if you lift the sanctions, you break containment, and the CIA’s saying,
‘you can’t break containment. We’ve got to squeeze Saddam for six months.’ So we need a new justification
for economic sanctions. A justification comes in the form of weapons of mass destruction: chemical weapons, biological weapons,
nuclear weapons, long-range ballistic missiles. Saddam’s got them. Prior to 1991, we knew he had them. We didn’t
view him as a threat to international peace and security. It was a regional issue. If you’re Israeli, you should be
concerned. If you’re Kuwaiti, you should be concerned. If you’re Saudi Arabian, you should be concerned. If you’re
Iranian, you should be concerned. If you’re American, you’re yawning because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t
impact you in a decisive fashion. But, suddenly, in March and April of 1991, Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction become
a threat to international peace and security of such a great magnitude that the Security Council has to pass a Chapter 7 resolution,
the strongest kind of resolution, saying that Iraq must be disarmed of these weapons. Furthermore, they say that economic
sanctions imposed in August of 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait will be continued until Iraq is found to be disarmed,
so the lifting of sanctions is now contingent upon Iraq’s compliance with their obligation to disarm. Now this is important.
This is critical not only for what happened historically but what I’m going to talk about in a little while regarding
Iran. What is the onus behind the sanctions, the onus behind extending the sanctions? Would you say it was more linked to
disarmament or regime change, and the answer is regime change. Disarmament was a vehicle used to facilitate regime change
by creating the framework for the continuation of economic sanctions that would contain and squeeze Saddam Hussein. The United
States was a drafter of this resolution. The United States voted in favor of this resolution, and the language of the resolution
makes it sound as if this is about disarmament. It says Iraq must declare the totality of its weapons holding, turn them over
to inspectors for inspection and eventual dispossession, and then, and only then, will economic sanctions be lifted. The United
States voted for this resolution in April of 1991. Immediately, members of congress came up and started whispering to Bush.
‘Hey, boss, what are you doing?’ ‘What do you mean, what am I doing? I passed a resolution.’ ‘Yeah,
but that resolution holds within it the key for Saddam Hussein to break out of containment. If he cooperates with the inspectors
and gives up his weapons, we’ve got to lift sanctions, and, if we lift sanctions, we’ve broken containment, and
Saddam Hussein comes back into the fold of the international community as the head of Iraq. That means that we’re letting
Hitler survive.’ And bush said, ‘don’t worry.’ In May of 1991, the Secretary of State, James Baker,
issues a speech. The speech goes along these lines. Even if Iraq complies with its obligation to disarm, economic sanctions
will be maintained until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power. Do you see the utter hypocrisy of the American position?
While we vote for a Security Council resolution to continue economic sanctions based on Iraq’s obligation to disarm,
and then we turn around a month later and say it’s irrelevant, we’re going to keep the sanctions in place forever,
even if Iraq disarms, until Saddam Hussein is removed from power.
Do you understand why weapons inspections were never a valid, legitimate process to begin with? It didn’t matter
what the weapons inspectors wanted. It only mattered what the policymakers wanted. In fact, disarmament becomes the enemy,
especially after six months when Saddam Hussein continues to survive. The wildly little crafty dictator didn’t just
roll over and play dead. He sustained his rule. He expanded his rule. He became more of a viable leader in Iraq. And now Bush
is stuck. What do you do? We don’t have a plan. The plan was to wait six months, and Saddam’s gone. So what do
you do? So Bush reacts, ‘just keep the sanctions in place, contain, and we’ll come up with a solution here, but
nothing dramatic. Nothing dramatic because I’ve got to run for re-election in 1992, so I don’t want a new war.
I don’t want a new war which highlights the fact that I didn’t accomplish the mission in the first war. I want
to build on the notion that we won a grand victory in the first war.’ That’s a hard notion to sustain when you’ve
got the Iraqi government at first confronting the inspectors, not cooperating with them, and thereby maintaining the impression
that Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at the United States. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were actually
on the ground doing their job. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were actually succeeding in disarming Iraq.
It didn’t matter that, in June of 1991, after Iraq failed to declare a nuclear weapons program, that weapons inspectors
found a convoy of 100 vehicles on the back of which was enrichment equipment related to a nuclear weapons program, forcing
the Iraqis to admit they lied, forcing the Iraqis to turn over the totality of their nuclear weapons program. It didn’t
matter that the weapons inspectors … with the fact that the Iraqis had failed to declare almost a hundred missiles,
through the perseverance and tenacity of their work, compelled the Iraqis to admit, oops, we lied, here’s your missiles.
It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were destroying more chemical agent than people could shake a stick at.
No, this was irrelevant, you see, because disarmament was the enemy. If inspectors succeeded, you create a political problem.
This is why, when I went to the CIA in October of 1992 and briefed them on the fact that we had succeeded in accounting for
all of Iraq’s ballistic missiles, instead of being greeted with high-fives and cheers, I was greeted with stoic silence.
You see, because what I was telling them was that their policy of regime change was on the brink of failure, because, if inspectors
can succeed in disarming Iraq, the world’s going to talk about lifting the sanctions. This is why the Bush administration
did two things in October 1992. The first thing they did was issue a rebuttal to the U.N. inspectors’ report saying,
‘no, we disagree. We disagree with your finding.’ They did an amazing thing, too. And we talk about the American
public and how they gain access to information. We gain access to information by watching TV. Let me give you a little insight
here. We inspectors just finished doing, in a serious of inspections over the course of several months in 1992 where we went
to hundreds of sight sin Iraq, we interviewed hundreds of people, we did forensic investigation, and we came up with a technically
based determination that we could account for almost all the missiles. The CIA, in disagreeing with us, and not only were
they disagreeing with us, but George Tenet [sic] got on national TV before the United States Senate, and said that the United
States government’s position is that there’s up to 200 missiles missing in Iraq. That’s mathematically impossible.
It couldn’t happen. But, if you’re an American citizen, you turn on the TV or you open the newspaper and see on
the front page of the New York Times, it wasn’t George Tenet at that time, the CIA director says 200 missiles in Iraq,
you’re thinking there’s 200 missiles in Iraq. You’re thinking that there’s a threat there. See, the
CIA’s job is not to disarm Iraq. They’d never received that task from the President of the United States. The
CIA’s job is to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and one key aspect of getting rid of Saddam Hussein was to contain him through
the continuation of sanctions. The continuation of sanctions required that the CIA maintain public perception of a noncompliant
Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, what I just told you should shock you. The CIA knew in 1992 that there were no missiles left in
Iraq. The CIA knew in 1992 that there was no nuclear weapons capability in Iraq. The CIA knew in 1995 that all chemical weapons
and all biological weapons were accounted for. And, yet, here we are today, and it’s amazing. Turn on the television,
and listen to the President, and listen to the Democrats. The President will say,’ we got it wrong on the weapons. We
thought they were there, and they weren’t. Oops.’ And then the Democrats said, ‘we were misled. The President
said that there were weapons there, so we voted for the war, but now it turns out there weren’t. We went to war on the
basis of a lie. We were misled. Don’t blame us.’ Blame everyone, ladies and gentlemen, because I’m here
to tell you they knew there were no weapons. They knew it. The CIA knew it. The U.S. intelligence community knew it. Congress
knew it. The Senate knew it, especially those who sat on the oversight committees and were cognizant of the intelligence information.
They knew that the policy was regime change. They supported the policy of regime change. They were part of the implementation
of the policy of regime change and the formulation of the policy of regime change. There was a Republican controlled congress
in 1994 that used Bill Clinton’s inability to deal with Saddam Hussein as a political foil to put pressure on the Clinton
administration, thereby making Bill Clinton concerned about his prospect for re-election in 1996, thereby having Bill Clinton
order the CIA to up the ante and go after Saddam in a very aggressive fashion which culminated with a coup attempt in June
of 1996 which used the UN weapons inspection process not only as a vehicle for the CIA to gather intelligence about Saddam
Hussein’s security but as a trigger for military action. Don’t tell me congress didn’t know. They knew.
They knew it was never about disarmament. They knew it was always about regime change, and Bill Clinton’s inability
to get rid of Saddam in 1996 empowered congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to unite in a bipartisan fashion, to pass
what is called the Iraq Liberation Act, which set aside $100,000,000 of U.S. taxpayers’ money to fund Iraqi opposition
groups to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Regime change not only became U.S. policy. It became U.S. law, public law, and congress
pretends they didn’t know what was going on. How absurd is that? You know, we have a guy touring Washington, D.C. as
we speak, a guy named Ahmad Chalabi, and everyone likes to boo and hiss about Ahmad Chalabi and say that he’s the man
that sold the bad information to the Bush administration. Well, you know what? Ahmad Chalabi is a creation of the Clinton
administration. Bill Clinton created Ahmad Chalabi. Bill Clinton’s CIA funded Ahmad Chalabi. Bill Clinton is the first
administration to swallow Ahmad Chalabi’s poison, but, you know, it wasn’t Ahmad Chalabi’s poison. It was
our poison. We created Ahmad Chalabi, created the poison that we would swallow, to sustain the notion of a noncompliant Iraq.
A lot of people talk about the interim Iraqi government. You know, there’s that guy Iyad Allawi who used to be the Prime
Minister of Iraq, but, before he embarked on a career of Iraqi politics, he was a paid agent of the CIA. He’s the guy
behind the 1996 coup attempt, a product of Bill Clinton, briefed to the United States congress. They knew what the facts were.
Bill Clinton gets on TV in December 1998 to sell the American people on a program of action called Operation Desert Fox, a
three-day bombing campaign ostensibly against targets of weapons of mass destruction. Read Bill Clinton’s speech. It’s
available on the Internet. Read it. Compare and contrast it to what George W. Bush said. There is no change. There is no difference.
It’s the same speech. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The United States has no choice but to act and bomb Iraq.
The only difference was Bill Clinton wasn’t sending in troops to invade. He was bombing, but it was the same story,
the same lies, and Bill Clinton knew they were lies. In April of 1998, Bill Clinton appeared before the United States congress
to explain why inspectors might believe that the United States wasn’t supporting the inspection process, and Bill Clinton
was aghast. He said, ‘no, no. It’s the policy of the United States of America to give the inspectors all of the
support they need. We’re behind the disarmament of Iraq 100%.’ He came back from congress, turned to Madeleine
Albright, his Secretary of State, and Sandy Berger, his National Security Advisor, and ordered them to have a secret meeting
to redraft American policy not to support the inspectors but to undermine the inspectors, to disengage the United States away
from the inspectors because the inspectors were causing Bill Clinton a huge problem. We were disarming Iraq. We were succeeding,
and the United States could never allow the inspectors to succeed, so the United States put the break on the inspectors, started
undermining the inspectors even more than they did, and, in December, 1998, popular mythology may hold Saddam Hussein kicked
the weapons inspectors out of Iraq, but this is wrong, ladies and gentlemen. They were ordered out by Bill Clinton. He ordered
them out and then said that Iraq is not cooperating with the inspectors, and that’s why we need to bomb. The purpose
of the bombing wasn’t to get rid of weapons of mass destruction because there were none and they knew it. The purpose
of the bombing was two-fold. To target Saddam Hussein using intelligence information gathered by weapons inspectors. The first
four cruise missiles that went into Iraq tried to knock out Saddam Hussein because U.N. intelligence said he might be sleeping
either in Baghdad or in Tekrit. Of the 120 targets hit, 111 dealt with the security of Saddam Hussein. The others hit factories
that we knew not to have any relation to weapons of mass destruction. Now they didn’t get Saddam, but what they did
do is kill inspections because, when the Iraqis woke up after three days and walked through all the targets that were bombed,
they realized that these targets were the exact same places inspected by United Nations weapons inspectors. They realized
that the only way the United States could have received precise coordinates of where to strike was through the intelligence
gathered by UN weapons inspectors. The Iraqis said the inspectors are not welcome back in, which is a victory for the United
States because, without weapons inspectors, we can’t disarm Iraq. If you can’t disarm Iraq, economic sanctions
will not be lifted, and they’ll continue. Now a lot of people like to talk about weapons inspections and disarmament
of Iraq as if it’s a big victory for us. We weapons inspectors did a good thing, but let me educate you on a couple
of things, ladies and gentlemen. Weapons inspections do not exist in isolation. They didn’t just happen. They were an
outgrowth of a war. United Nations weapons inspections were extensions of the war. We cannot treat them as separate events.
UN weapons inspectors may not have had guns, but we actually inflicted more harm on Iraq than military weapons did because
we were responsible for the continuation of economic sanctions, economic sanctions that devastated Iraq for a decade, economic
sanctions that killed between 700,000 and 2.5 million Iraqi civilians, and yet we sit here and talk about disarmament and
weapons inspections as if it’s something neat. Disarmament only works if you can isolate it from war. Disarmament is
a proactive measure in its own right, but disarmament is simply an extension of the war and war objectives using disarmament
as a cover. It’s not disarmament. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled. UN weapons inspections in Iraq were
not about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. They were about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. They were about continuing
economic sanctions to destabilize Saddam Hussein. Why is this important? Well, it’s important, first of all, because
we’re talking about our politicians today, our brave politicians who are taking advantage of George W. Bush’s
low popularity ratings to suddenly come out of the woodwork like rats on a sinking ship and declare how they’re against
the war, but they’re not really against the war, because talk to them in depth. They’re against what’s happening
now. They’re against the quagmire we face today. They’re against the fact that the Bush administration did not
plan adequately for a post-Saddam environment. They’re not against the war. They’re political opportunists. To
be against this war, you have to say that we shouldn’t be in Iraq to begin with. To be against this war, you must say
that Iraq was better off with Saddam Hussein in power than it was with Saddam Hussein out of power. To be against this war,
you must recognize that the congressional vote for war in 2002 was a complete abrogation of Constitutional responsibility.
That’s being against this war, and there isn’t a politician out there today that is against this war using that
terminology, or very few politicians, none that aspire to national political leadership. No, all the great politicians out
there who say ‘I want to run for President’ are saying it’s good to have gone to war to get rid of Saddam
Hussein. They say it’s just that we’ve done badly in the post-war phase. No, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t
be half against this war. You have to be all against this war, and, sadly, there’s far too few politicians who are all
against this war.
It is this type of political half-stepping that creates a quandary not only for Iraq but for Iran. You see, a lot of people,
when I started talking, and Sunny knows this, in 2001 and 2002, we traveled around the country and talked about the impending
war with Iraq. And everyone went, ‘well, there isn’t going to be a war with Iraq. That’s insane. The President’s
embarked on diplomacy. There’s going to be a diplomatic solution. They’re going to give inspectors a chance. There
will not be a war.’ I kept saying no, war has been decided upon because it is the policy decided upon to remove Saddam
Hussein from power. No one wanted to recognize that policy. Then the war came. Then today there’s a growing recognition
that we were misled into this war. But now I’m mentioning the war with Iran that’s already occurring, and everybody
goes ‘no, there’s no war with Iran. Don’t be crazy. We can’t go to war with Iran. We don’t have
enough troops. We’re bogged down in Iraq. No one would be crazy enough to go to war with Iran.’ Ladies and gentlemen,
the same man that got us involved in this war in Iraq (I should say men, Clinton and Bush), got us involved with a future
war with Iran. The die has already been cast. The decision has been made, and, as much as Bill Clinton facilitated war with
Iraq, he facilitated war with Iran by embarking on a policy of dual containment in the 1990’s, putting unilateral U.S.
economic sanctions against Iran, creating the politics of demonization where the American public on a daily basis has been
bombarded with nothing but negative visuals, negative information about Iran, nothing positive. According to the U.S. media,
Iran is populated by 50 million anti-American whirling dervishes who want nothing more than to come out of the country and
cut off our heads. We don’t recognize the cultural diversity of Iran. We don’t recognize the fact that Iran is
populated by human beings that care about life just as much as we do. We don’t recognize that the Iranian mothers want
a good future for their children just as much as the American mothers want a good future for their children. We don’t
recognize that Iranian men just want to have a job, a job that pays the bills, so that they can go home and maybe have a nice
weekend with their family. That’s the reality of Iran, but we don’t have that. You see, we’re told that
Iran is a threat. We’re told that the mad mullahs in Iran must be done away with in the same way that the mad dictator
in Baghdad was done away with. The policy of regime change is in place today. This is why, when the Bush administration speaks
of regional transformation, it’s not just hypothetical. They mean it, and, just like the Downing Street Memo, that British
document that refers to meetings that took place in July, 2002, says that the United States had a policy of regime change
already in place that was not going to be changed and they were fixing intelligence around the policy, I’m here to tell
you today that we have a policy of regime change in place about Iran, and we are fixing the intelligence around the policy.
We have a congress that is unwilling to stand up and talk about the reality of Iran. And listen to Hillary Clinton when she
asks ridiculous questions, when she has testimony about the Iranian threat. She doesn’t have probing questions. She
sits there and reinforces the negativity. She sits there and reinforces the notion of an Iranian threat, and the danger with
that is that the compliant beast we call the American public, these sheep that allow themselves to be led to and fro, are
listening to what she says. That’s why I could be a pollster and ask the following question. Do you think America should
go to war with Iran? And most Americans say no, it’s stupid, we’re already bogged down in Iraq, why should we
go to war with Iran? Put those polling numbers up, and everybody will go ’see, there’s not going to be a war with
Iran, Scott. What are you worried about?’ Let me get a little more tricky with you here. Do you think the Iranian government
poses a threat to the United States of America? 78% of the American public says yes. How does the Iranian government pose
a threat? Do they pose a threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons? The same numbers, 78%, yes, Iran
poses a threat in the form of nuclear weapons. Now comes the cute part: how should we deal with this threat? Oh, we’re
not going to that war thing because it sort of went bad in Iraq. How do you want to support? Ah, economic sanctions imposed
by the United Nations.
84% of Americans believe that we should impose sanctions against Iran through the United Nations as a manner to deal with
the Iranian nuclear weapons threat that threatens the security of the United States. That’s why we’re going to
war, ladies and gentlemen, because we have bought into the notion that Iran is a threat without question, without thinking.
We just parrot back what’s told to us by our elected officials. We bought into the notion that Iran is a threat in the
form of nuclear weapons, even though no evidence has been put forward by anybody to sustain this notion. In fact, all of the
intelligence information points to the reality that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran as we speak. Every case made
by the Bush administration has fallen apart on investigation of guess what, the eternal threat to peace and security, United
Nations weapons inspectors who had the audacity to go to Iran and investigate baseless allegations and expose them as baseless
allegations. Well, they have nuclear weapons. And, now that we’ve said there’s a threat, we say that the only
way to deal with this threat is to impose economic sanctions, but you know what? They have to be imposed by the United Nations
Security Council. The United Nations Security Council has members such as Russia, France, and China, not so much France right
now on the issue of Iran but Russia and China, who have said ‘we will not allow economic sanctions to be imposed because
we have seen what you’ve done with the Iraqi model, that this isn’t about getting rid of a nuclear threat. This
is about regime change, and we’re not going to let this occur.’ But the United States is pushing hard to have
the issue brought to the Security Council knowing full well that Russia and China will veto it. What does this mean, ladies
and gentlemen? It means that, when Russia and China veto it, as we know they will, the President has no choice. His hands
are tied. He didn’t want to go to war, but he has no choice, you see, because Iran is a threat, a nuclear threat, and
the United Nations will not do anything about this threat, and no President is going to stand by and let a threat exist. No
President is going to allow the national security of the United States of America to be held hostage by the United Nations,
and, as distasteful as war is, the President has no choice but to engage in a war with Iran. That’s why we’re
going to war, ladies and gentlemen. The President wants it. The American people have been preconditioned to accept the terms
of conflict, and the vehicle for facilitating this is in place: John Bolton, the United Nations ambassador, has already written
his speech that he will deliver before the Security Council when they refuse to impose economic sanctions. That speech will
be that America will not allow itself to be held hostage by the United Nations. Then the President will order bombing, and
this is where it gets really interesting, because one of the true things about the Iranian threat is we do not have enough
troops to invade and occupy Iran. You see, the Bush administration is amazing. They don’t believe in reality. *laughter*
Laugh. They say this themselves. They say that America has overwhelming economic, diplomatic, and political strength that
we can bring to bear on any given situation and create our own reality, that the old rules of diplomacy no longer apply, that
we have such overwhelming force that we can shape events so that a new reality is created. Now they sort of had a hick-up,
a bad one in Iraq where they thought the new reality would be greeting us with songs and flowers. They were a little wrong
on that one, but they’ve modified their formulation apparently because they believe that, if we bomb Iran with a massive
aerial bombardment, then the Iranian people will rise up and remove the Mullahs from power, even though history shows that
it’s not very likely that a nation that’s bombed is going to rise up and support those who are bombing them. But,
if that fails, the military has been told to be prepared to send troops from Azerbaijan, along the Caspian Sea coast, to the
outskirts of Tehran where it would project a force of 40-60,000. The Iranian people would be motivated by our presence and
rise up and overthrow the mad Mullahs of Tehran. We’ll even put another 20-30,000 Marines on the coast where we can
control the Straits of Hormuz, preventing the Iranians from shutting down that. .. oil shipping lane. What happens when that
doesn’t work? And it doesn’t take a mathematical whiz to figure that it’s not going to work, ladies and
gentlemen. Iran is a nation about 2.5 times the size of Iraq. Iran has a population of almost 50 million people, and we’re
talking about putting 60-80,000 troops on the ground. We can’t control a nation of 25 million people with 161,000 troops.
What makes us think we’re going to control 50 million with 80,000? It’s not going to happen. Now is where it gets
really frightening, because the Bush administration, if they go down this course of action, will have no choice at that point
in time but to use nuclear weapons, and they have already developed the weapons — they call them usable nukes. It’s
funny that term, usable. This is not about mutually assured destruction anymore. This is not about deterrence. The Bush administration
has radically departed from past doctrine to say that we will have a family of nuclear weapons that are usable nuclear weapons,
meaning that we can conceive of using them, and then they’ll say we could use them preemptively in a non-nuclear environment,
meaning that it’s not about opposing somebody with nuclear weapons or biological weapons or chemical weapons, it’s
we can use them any time we want to if it’s in the strategic national interest of the United States.
This war, ladies and gentlemen, has a good chance of beginning in 2007. What are you going to do, peace movement? What
are you going to do? Sit back and go, ‘oh my God, this is too much to think about. I’m going to hit the delete
button and pretend that Ritter never spoke.’ Or do what others do? ‘Na, he’s a crazy wild man. Na, I’m
not buying into that garbage. We’re just going to move on thinking that Iraq’s bad and they’ll never going
on into Iran.’ Study the facts I’ve just put on the table. You will not contradict a single one of them. You cannot
contradict a single one of them because they are facts. I’m not making it up. It’s all based on written and spoken
statements made by Bush administration officials, past and present. What are you going to do? Wait for congress to do the
right thing? Congress has already sold out. Congress isn’t going to oppose this President. Congress has already bought
into the notion of the Iranian threat. What are you going to do? One thing you can do is change congress, and you have a window
of opportunity. The 2006 election may well go down in history as one of the most critical elections that this country has
ever faced, because, if I’m right, and I pray I’m not, I pray I’m wrong, I pray I’m on drugs, I pray
I’m having some hallucinations, I pray that none of this is true. What if I’m right and we don’t change
congress in 2006? We will unleash forces that will devastate this country, not just economically, not just politically, not
just militarily, not just morally. Physically, because, if we drop nuclear weapons on Iran, we will have uncorked the genie,
and that genie will not allow itself to be recorked until an American city has been vaporized in a radioactive cloud in a
terrorist counterstrike to the American initiation of nuclear holocaust, and that is the statement of fact. Right now, when
people talk about terrorism and nuclear weapons, I’m not too worried about it because I still think that we have to
be concerned about it, but there’s enough sanity that prevails in the world today where leaders such as Musharaf in
Pakistan and others will not transfer this technology to the terrorists out of fear of the devastation that will be caused.
If the United States drops nuclear weapons, all bets are off. The Muslim world will not rest until the Americans pay a price
similar to the one that’s been inflicted on them. What can you do? … Find a candidate worth supporting, and put
all of your resources into supporting that candidate and getting that candidate in position, reaching out across the nation
to other states and say ‘we need to get effective checks and balances in place in Washington, D.C. right now to hold
this administration in place, in check.’ History shows us that, when an administration starts floundering in the way
that George W. Bush has, that they take on a fortress-like mentality. Witness Richard Nixon in the aftermath of Watergate.
Things are going to get worse for George W. Bush before they get better, if they ever get better. More allegations of misconduct,
more allegation of lies, deceit, distortion are going to be put forward, and we already see how this President reacts, not
with an embrace that’s inclusive but to reject and be derisive and to go on a counter-attack. The President, unable
to generate any friction in terms of getting his policies implemented here at home because congress is starting to rise up
and revolt, will look for distractions overseas in the same way that Richard Nixon looked to create a nuclear confrontation
with the Soviet Union and the Middle East. It’s very dangerous times, ladies and gentlemen, very dangerous times, and,
therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to recognize that we cannot wait for someone to give us the solution. We must re-read
the Constitution and take strength from the words in the preamble that speak of we, the people of the United States of America.
The only way we’re going to get a solution to this dual deception that’s taken place today in Iraq and Iran is
for we, the people of the United States of America, to re-empower ourselves as citizens, to break free of this cocoon of comfort,
this consumerism we trapped ourselves into so that we are addicted to a lifestyle that can only be sustained by elected representatives
who will carry out aggressive policies. We got to elect good people, and that’s the thing. We’ve got to elect.
No one else is going to elect them. We’ve got to nominate them. No one is going to nominate them. We’ve got to
support and sustain them because no one else is going to do that. I hope I’ve put out enough challenging words and thoughts
to you, and now you can hold me accountable for every single one of them as I open up the floor for questions. Thank you.
We are very grateful to Mike Gorse, who transcribed this talk. Mike may be reached at mgorse[AT]mgorse.dhs.org
Mike’s website at http://mgorse.dhs.org:8000