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Ritter told students ‘We went to war on a lie.’
Former United Nations chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter blasted the Bush administration’s decision for waging war in Iraq. He told an Alumni Hall audience of 400 on Nov. 14, that the administration deliberately mislead American citizens in claiming Saddam Hussein’s government possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
“I’m here to tell you it was not an honest mistake. Ladies and gentlemen, we went to war on a lie. They deliberately deceived us,” Ritter said.
Ritter, who took part in 54 U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, said that the real reason the Bush administration deployed American troops into the nation in March 2003 was to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government, and not because of any existence of weapons of mass destructions.
“This is not democracy. Democracy cannot be imposed on anyone. Democracy must grow from within,” Ritter said, referring to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The speech was sponsored by the university’s International Education.
Patrick Frazier, director of International Education, said the university chose Ritter because it “wanted someone who was a leader to tell students about” the importance of being engaged in global affairs.
Kathleen McCourt, university senior vice president for academic affairs, said it is important for all Americans to try to understand the facts behind the war in Iraq in order to arrive at one’s viewpoint about the war.
Ritter said that in 1992, he reported to the then U.S. President George H. W. Bush administration, that the U.N. weapons inspectors had found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after performing an exhaustive search throughout the country. This report came one year after the Central Intelligence Agency told the United Nations that Hussein possessed 100 weapons of mass destruction.
Rather than celebrating the news of the disarmament, though, the administration shunned the report and said that it needed to maintain the public perception that Saddam Hussein constantly possessed weapons of mass destruction, Ritter said.
“The policy was never disarmament. It was always regime change,” Ritter said.
In August 1998, Hussein’s government evicted Ritter and the other U.N. weapons inspectors from Iraq, claiming that they acted as spies for the United States. This came after a failed CIA-backed attempted assassination on Hussein, Ritter said.
“People say, ‘Why didn’t Saddam cooperate with the U.N. weapons inspectors?’ Well, the truth is, he did,” Ritter said.
Ritter criticized the mainstream media as being a mouthpiece for the administration. Moreover, he said the media belittles the severity that is war.
“What’s going on in Iraq is not a Hollywood adventure. . I was saddened and distraught to see the way the war in Iraq was depicted this Veteran’s Day,” Ritter said.
Ritter concluded his speech by encouraging Americans to adopt a global mindset that will in turn foster congenial relations throughout the international community.
“We need to recognize that while we are the only superpower today, we – as a nation of 280 million people – need to coexist in a world of billions of people.”