Targeting Iran

Don’t ask what your country can do for you, says former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Ask what you can do to stop your country.

Illustration By robert armstrong

Former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter speaks in Davis at the Varsity Theater, 616 Second Street; Monday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20; proceeds go to U.S. Tour of Duty and the Teach Peace Foundation. For more info, go to or call (530) 554-7061.

Can you feel it? America’s war machine is ratcheting up, like a great catapult preparing to hurl yet another fireball of death and destruction into the besieged fortress of the Middle East.

You can read it between the lines of General David Petraeus’ testimony on the Iraqi surge last week, when he told Congress that Iran is arming and training “special groups” in Iraq, without offering any evidence to support the claim, not that anyone asked.

You could hear it in President George W. Bush’s address immediately after the general’s presentation. “The regime in Tehran also has a choice to make,” Bush warned. “If Iran makes the right choice, America will encourage a peaceful relationship between Iran and Iraq. If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners.”

You could see it on the front page of the London Times the day following Bush’s speech. “Satellite exposes Iran rocket site,” the headline screamed breathlessly. It seems the terrorists in Tehran are developing a multistage ballistic missile capable of delivering a payload—explosives, anthrax or, considering the present state of Iran’s technological development, a sack of old rusty nails—some 6,000 kilometers, far enough to strike at the heart of Europe.

Scary stuff. Fortunately, according to former United Nations weapon inspector Scott Ritter, almost none of it is true.

“It’s much ado about nothing,” Ritter says via telephone, commenting on the Times article. He ticks off the earmarks that identify the story as bogus: The satellite that purportedly took photos of the rocket factory is civilian, not military, as is the agency that examined the data, Jane’s Intelligence Review. Furthermore, Jane’s doesn’t name the weapons expert it consulted with for the analysis. Like much of the evidence supporting Bush’s war on terror, Ritter characterizes the report as “speculative in the extreme.”

If anybody outside of official intelligence circles knows, it’s Ritter. The former Marine Corps intelligence officer served as the United Nation’s chief weapons investigator in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He resigned after President Bill Clinton ordered inspectors out before bombing Iraq in 1998, using intelligence data gathered by the inspectors to pinpoint weapon strikes, which was prohibited by the terms of the U.N. inspection agreement.

Ritter became an outspoken critic of U.S. Middle East policy, and in 2002, famously declared that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, a year before the Bush administration, with the tacit approval of Congress, used the WMD pretext to attack Iraq. As it turned out, Ritter was right. Next week, he appears in Davis to talk about his concern that the Bush administration is trying to pull the same sort of scam in Iran.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Bush is planning an attack on Iran,” Ritter says. “I think that the administration’s full ideological objectives are a strategic design for global domination. This is an administration that truly believes the world is their playground.”

Again, he ticks off a list of items that point in one direction. Modifications to B-2 bombers enabling them to carry heavy bunker-busting munitions, the deployment of a third aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf, the filling up of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, activities that were all planned to be completed by this month, signaling that an attack may be imminent.

“That doesn’t mean an attack is inevitable,” Ritter says, noting that in an “elective” war, the antagonist can pick and choose when the shooting starts. He first began raising concerns about a possible invasion of Iran in 2005, after intelligence sources revealed a U.S. military base was being beefed up in Azerbaijan, which sits on Iran’s northwest border. That the attack hasn’t happened yet is no guarantee it won’t happen, particularly in the closing days of the Bush administration.

“Securing the Middle East in terms of stability and being able to expand into Central Asia was and is the goal,” Ritter says. Having achieved neither, the Bush administration may now be desperately trying to preserve its legacy by launching another illegal war against Iran.

“It’s all wishful thinking,” Ritter says. “If they can’t solve the problem, they want to make sure the person coming behind them can’t solve it either. Therefore, it’s not all their fault.”

Can anyone stop the Bush/Cheney juggernaut from invading Iran? Ritter offers up a surprising answer—the American people.

“Fear is the ultimate political weapon,” he says. Knowledge is the antidote to fear, and today, Americans have more knowledge at their fingertips than ever before. If we just dig a little deeper than the nightly news, we just might discover what Ritter already knows.

“There is no global radical Islam,” he states confidently, noting that all of the terrorists who planned and carried out 9/11 died in the attacks. “We’re talking about a handful of people. Jihad? Not on your life. It’s a false flag. The global war on terror is the one of the biggest frauds perpetrated in history.”