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Ritter told one side of a complex story
When I decided to attend Scott Ritter’s speech on November 14, I knew going in that I probably wouldn’t agree with what he had to say. However, since he was the Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector in Iraq in the early 1990s, I felt he was definitely worth seeing.
Ritter, to say the least, did not agree with the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. He spent a good portion of his speech, which was billed as a discussion of an exit strategy, talking about his experiences in Iraq after the Gulf War. Ritter alleges that all of Iraq’s banned weapons were accounted for by his inspection teams within a couple years of the end of that war. Therefore, his thesis is that the current Iraq War was never really about weapons of mass destruction, as President Bush and his administration said, but rather about regime change and getting rid of Saddam Hussein.
There are a few problems here, though. Number one, if all of the weapons were handed over by 1994, as Ritter said, why did the U.N. Security Council continue to pass resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament? Why couldn’t Saddam Hussein’s government, right up to the very end, provide evidence that all of the weapons were destroyed.
Ritter’s story mainly dealt with long-range ballistic missiles, but Iraq had more than that. Biological and chemical weapons, such as those Saddam used on the Kurds in northern Iraq, also needed to be accounted for. By all accounts, they couldn’t be, and Saddam was never the most forthcoming person. I didn’t hear Ritter make one mention of these weapons in his entire speech. If I had a chance to ask him a question, it would be about that.
Toward the end, Ritter did begin talking about what we can do to get out of the “quagmire,” as he called it, in Iraq. He called for the removal of American troops and was greeted with a round of applause from the liberal lions in the audience. I wanted to throw up at that point. What’s interesting is that the conservative response to this is usually that if we remove our troops, Iraq will descend into civil war. But Ritter is of the opinion that a civil war is inevitable, so bringing the troops home won’t matter.
Without a doubt, Iraq is in trouble right now. But however we got into this war, it is important to complete the mission. Cutting and running should not be an option. And people should not treat the words of Scott Ritter on Iraq as gospel. He provided one side of the story. Don’t expect Quinnipiac to ever invite someone in to provide the other side.