Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ritter vs. Ritter (Tim Blair)

Since 2002, the former US marine and former Iraq weapons inspector Scott Ritter has been a prominent and outspoken opponent of the 2003 Iraq war. It is worth noting, however, that many of the arguments he has made during this period drastically contradict arguments about Iraq that he was making as recently as 1999. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with changing one's mind on important issues. On the contrary, sometimes it's a sign of intelligence and intellectual integrity. But the curious thing is that Ritter has never really explained how and why he came to change his mind so drastically sometime between 1999 and 2002--or, in substantive terms, why we should conclude that the arguments he was making in 1998-1999 were incorrect. For my part, I continue to find his position in 1998-1999 more convincing and well-grounded.
In October 2005, just before Ritter made a visit to Australia, The Australian journalist & blogger Tim Blair put together a collection of some of the most significant shifts (and contradictions) in Ritter's position between the 1990s and the present.
And so on, and on, and on. Seymour Hersh, whose interview with Ritter produced last month’s quotes, failed to ask a single question about Ritter’s earlier views. Luckily, we’ll get to ask the, ahem, straight talking former marine officer ourselves when he visits Sydney later this month.
(For some of the larger arguments to which this is relevant, see here and here and here and here.)
--Jeff Weintraub

===========
Tim Blair
RITTER V RITTER

Scott Ritter last month:
[B]y 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.
Scott Ritter in 1999 (extract from Ritter’s Endgame):
In 1995 Unit 2001 conducted tests on live human subjects taken from the Abu Ghraib prison, using BW and binary CW agent. Around fifty prisoners were chosen for these experiments, which took place at a remote testing ground in western Iraq. The purpose of these experiments was to test the toxicity of available agent to ensure that the biological agent remained viable. As a result, all the prisoners died.
Scott Ritter last month:
[T]he whole world knew [in 1995] ... that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.
Scott Ritter in 2002:
I have never given Iraq a clean bill of health! Never! Never!
Scott Ritter in 1999:
I have grown convinced that there has been a total breakdown in the willingness of the international community to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein is well on the road to getting his sanctions lifted and keeping his weapons in the bargain.
Scott Ritter last month:
[W]e ... 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.
Scott Ritter in 1999:
A resurgent Iraq, reinvigorated economically and politically by standing up successfully to the United States and the United Nations, will be a very dangerous Iraq ...
Scott Ritter last month:
One of the reasons why we didn’t move to Baghdad in 1991 to take out Saddam was that there was wide recognition that if you get rid of Saddam and you don’t have a good idea of what’s going to take his place, that Iraq will devolve into chaos and anarchy. Well, we’ve done just that. We got rid of Saddam, and we have no clue what was going to take his place.
Scott Ritter in 1999:
No matter how difficult stopping Saddam Hussein is today, it will become more and more difficult, and extract a higher and higher price, the longer he is left to rebuild his arsenal.
Scott Ritter last month:
I’m a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.
Scott Ritter in 1999:
[Iraq] sooner or later will have to be confronted by American military might.
Scott Ritter last month:
[I]f we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we should have had a debate, discussion, and dialogue about the real reasons and not make up some artificial WMD.
Scott Ritter in 1999 (extract from Ritter’s Endgame):
Iraq has not accounted for hundreds of tons of precursor chemicals used in manufacturing the VX nerve agent, as well as precursor chemicals used in manufacturing GA, GF, and GB nerve agent. All four agents were produced by Iraq in binary form ...
The equipment for the two chemical agent production lines that remain unaccounted for could be transported in fifteen to twenty trucks. This type of mobility plays to the strength of the SSO-run concealment mechanism, and makes targeting—by weapons inspectors as well as the US military—extremely difficult ...
Iraq has probably retained several Al-Hussein warheads filled with a dry BW agent, probably anthrax.
And so on, and on, and on. Seymour Hersh, whose interview with Ritter produced last month’s quotes, failed to ask a single question about Ritter’s earlier views. Luckily, we’ll get to ask the, ahem, straight talking former marine officer ourselves when he visits Sydney later this month.

Posted by Tim B. on 10/31/2005 at 10:50 AM

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