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Sunday, October 30, 2005

What they said

Two of the most knowledgeable members of the reality-based community are Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter. They got together for a chat on October 19. A partial transcript was published online on October 26, and I just found out about it today. The whole transcript is definitely worth reading, but I'll tease you with a few quotes:
Hersh: "[M]y own personal view is we have two options in Iraq. Option A, we can get all our troops out by midnight tonight, and option B, we can get them all out by tomorrow night at midnight."
...
Ritter: "I view that Iraq is a nation that's on fire. There's a horrific problem that faces not only the people of Iraq but the United States and the entire world. And the fuel that feeds that fire is the presence of American and British troops. This is widely acknowledged by the very generals that are in charge of the military action in Iraq. So the best way to put out the fire is to separate the fuel from the flame. So I'm a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.

Today's the best day we're going to have in Iraq. Tomorrow's going to be worse, and the day after that's going to be even worse."
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Ritter: "[T]he fact of the matter is the United States was never interested in disarming Iraq. The whole Security Council resolution that created the UN weapons inspections and called upon Iraq to disarm was focused on one thing and one thing only, and that is a vehicle for the maintenance of economic sanctions that were imposed in August 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait."
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Ritter: "[D]isarmament was only useful insofar as it contained through the maintenance of sanctions and facilitated regime change. It was never about disarmament, it was never about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. It started with George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued through eight years of the Clinton presidency, and then brought us to this current disastrous course of action under the current Bush Administration."
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Ritter: "I want to highlight that point that Clinton wasn't so good. You know, there's a lot of talk today in the Democratically controlled judiciary committee about going after the Bush Administration for crimes, for lying to Congress, and etc. And I'm all in favor of that, bring on the indictments, but don't stop at the Bush Administration. If you want to have a truly bipartisan indictment, you indict Madeleine Albright, you indict Sandy Berger, you indict every person on the Clinton Administration that committed the exact same crime that the Bush Administration has committed today. Lying during the course of your official duty: That's a felony, that's a high crime and misdemeanor. That's language in the Constitution that triggers certain events like impeachment. So let's not just simply turn this into a Bush-bashing event. This is about a failure of not only the Bush Administration but of the United States of America, and we have to look in the mirror and recognize that, well, all the Bush Administration did is take advantage of a systemic failure on the part of the United States as a whole, a failure that not only involves the executive, but it involves the legislative branch, Congress.

Congress has abrogated its responsibilities under the Constitution, and they've abrogated it for years. Then there's the media, and, yes, we can turn this into a media-bashing event. But you know what? The media only feeds the American people the poison they're willing to swallow. And we the people of the United States of America seem to want our news in no more than three-minute chunks with sound bites of thirty seconds or less, and it can't be too complicated. So what we did is allowed ourselves during the decade of the 1990s to be pre-programmed into accepting at face value without question anything that was negative about Saddam Hussein's regime, and this made selling the war on Iraq on the basis of a lie the easiest task ever faced by the Bush Administration."
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Ritter: "Why don't we vote out of Congress everybody who voted in favor of this war?"
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Ritter: " Ladies and gentlemen, there's not going to be an elegant solution in Iraq. There's no magic wand that can be waved to solve this problem. If we get out and we have a plan, you know, it's still going to cost 30,000 Iraqi lives. Let's understand that, there's going to be blood shed in Iraq. They're going to kill each other, and we're not going to stop it.

If we continue to stay the course, however, that 30,000 number may become 60,000 or 90,000. At the end of the day, we've created a nightmare scenario in Iraq, and the best we can do is mitigate failure. And that's what I'm talking, and, unfortunately, that's a politically unacceptable answer. People say, no, we have to win, we have to persevere, there has to be victory. There's not going to be victory."
The interview was based on Ritter's new book, Iraq Confidential : The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein. Sounds like a must-read to me!