This is the third of RAW STORY's series of conversations with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. In the first installment, Ritter spoke about the situations as regards weapons in Iraq, Iran and Russia. In the second, Ritter enumerated what he saw as the failings of the U.S. intelligence operation, calling the CIA 'terminally ill.'
In this final part of the three-part series, the former weapons inspector details his beliefs about the neoconservative movement, the American legislative process and his hopes for the future.
Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna: Paul Wolfowitz stated prior to the Iraq invasion that Iraqi reconstruction would pay for itself. It seems that Mr. Wolfowitz, now charged with handling the World Bank, miscalculated. What is going on with the oil in Iraq?
Former UN Weapons Scott Ritter: Paul Wolfowitz was a salesman; his job was to sell a war. He acknowledged this in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, in which he acknowledged that WMDs and the threat they posed, was nothing more than a vehicle to sell this war to America. Now you come to the war itself and selling it to Congress and questions: How long will this take? Or how much will this cost? etc…
Paul Wolfowitz lied to Congress about the costs of war. There is not a responsible member of government who thought this would be quick and cheap. There was nobody who believed that Iraq oil would pay for itself, no one in the oil business thought so.
Raw Story: What about oil companies, were they for the war or against it?
Ritter: No oil professional in their right mind would support what is happening in Iraq. This isn't part of a grand 'oil' strategy; it is simply pure unadulterated incompetence.
Raw Story: So they are concerned about their bottom lines, and chaos doesn’t forward that goal.
Ritter: Right. Oil company executives are businessmen and they are in a business that requires long-term stability. They love dictators because they bring with them long-term stability. They don’t like new democracies because they are messy and unstable. I have not run into a major oil company that is willing to refurbish the Iraq oil fields and in invest in oil field exploration and development. These are multi-billion dollar investments, that in order to be profitable, must be played out over decades. And in Iraq today you cannot speak out to projecting any stability in the near to mid-future.
Raw Story: Okay, so now to Congress. They approved the war. I know we have discussed the post-9/11 reality and the pressure of not seeming unpatriotic.
Ritter: Yes, but they also approved the war because Congress had been locked into a corner by the NeoCons in 1998. Our policy in Iraq since 1991 has been regime change.
How many times did G H. W. Bush have to say “we will not remove sanctions until Saddam is removed from power?” Bill Clinton inherited this policy of regime change, but the Bush policy was not an active policy, it was a passive policy to strangle, as it were, Saddam. It was not our policy to take him out through military strength. Saddam, however, was able to out-maneuver this policy, he did not get weaker he got stronger. The NeoCons played on the political implications of this, to box the Clinton administration and Congress into a corner.
When you declare Saddam to be a threat with WMDs and then do nothing, you have a political problem. The NeoCons played on this. In 1998, the Heritage Foundation, Paul Wolfowitz and the American Enterprise Institute… basically drafted legislation became the Iraq liberation act. This is public law. So when people ask why did Congress vote for the current war in Iraq, it is simply that they had already voted for it in 1998, they were trapped by their own vote.
Raw Story: So your implication is that in our current foreign policy the NeoCons have set the tone via thinktanks or supposed thinktanks?
Ritter: Yes. Look at who funds the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, and I think you'll have your answer.
The American Heritage Leninist
Raw Story: What do you think these institutions are trying to achieve? I know the public claim is conservative values, but there is a some speculation regarding what appears more like Leninist, even Trotskyite values, especially given the current domestic government involvement and control or attempt at control of almost every facet of society, economy, family, etc. Even the term Leninist was used by the Heritage Foundation to describe their approach to Social Security during the 1980’s (read it here - PDF).
Ritter: A high level source, a NeoCon at that, within the system has said to me directly that “John’s Bolton job is to destroy the UN, Rice’s job is to destroy the State Department’s and replace it with a vehicle of facilitation for making the Pentagon’s national security policy.”
Raw Story: And what of Karen Hughes’ appointment?
Ritter: Hughes she is a salesperson; she will sell the policy. She is irrelevant. She is nothing. Her appointment means nothing. Rice has already capitulated to the Pentagon and the White House, and Hughes' appointment is but a manifestation of that larger reality.
The NeoCons are parasites. They build nothing. They bring nothing. They don’t have a foundation. They don’t stand for business. They don’t stand for ideology. They use a host to facilitate and grow their own power. They are parasites that latch onto oil until is no longer convenient. They latch on to Democracy until it is no longer convenient.
Rice’s appointment to the State Department is simply to reshape it into a NeoCon vehicle.
Raw Story: Why the State Department? Why Rice?
Ritter: The State Department still has free thinkers in it. Rice is a dilettante. Anyone who was there during the Reagan era and her advising on Soviet policy knows how inept she is. She is not there because she is a brilliant Secretary of State.
The media has bought into this, because the NeoCons cleverly put a woman, an African American woman at that, into this position. So when Rice goes abroad, people do not look at the stupid things she says, they look at what she was wearing and such.
‘Godless people who want power, nothing more’
Raw Story: So you believe the NeoCons are elitist parasites?
Ritter: Yes, elitism is the perfect term.
Raw Story: Do you consider it localized or global elitism?
Ritter: The NeoCons believe in what they think is a noble truth, power of the few, the select few. These are godless people who want power, nothing more. They do not have a country or an allegiance, they have an agenda. These people might hold American passports, but they are not Americans because they do not believe in the Constitution. They believe in the power of the few, not a government for or by the people. They are a few and their agenda is global.
Raw Story: You suggest the Republican Party is simply an organizational host. Is there any vestige left of the host or has the entire party been devoured?
Ritter: The Republicans have been neutered by the NeoCons
Raw Story: Your concept of NeoCons seems confusing because, using your host/parasite paradigm, they cannot tell between the host and the parasite which invades it.
Ritter: I know people who have worked for George H. W. Bush, both when he was Vice President and President. Bush Sr. called the NeoCons the “crazies in the basement.” I think it is dangerous to confuse the two, because there are Americans who love their country and are conservatives who do not support what is going on. Until the host rejects the parasite, it is difficult to separate the two. Brent Scowcroft for example is not a NeoCon, yet people call him one. Scowcroft worked hard to reign in the “crazies in the basement,” as did Reagan.
Raw Story: Many have defined the NeoCon movement based on the highly intellectual, albeit warped, musings of Strauss and Bloom. Yet one could hardly call the current leadership intellectual or even capable of digesting this philosophy. Even NeoCon thinkers are jumping off the ship. Do you believe this is simply trickle-down Machiavellianism in much the same way that Communism trickled down as an aberration of its original intent?
Ritter: No plan survives initial contact with the enemy. The NeoCon ideology was always hypothetical in its pure application until now. What we are seeing today is what happens when theory (bad theory at that) makes contact with reality. You get chaos, through which the NeoCons are now trying to navigate.
Raw Story: Is Karl Rove a NeoCon?
Ritter: Karl Rove is not part of the neo-conservative master group; he is a host.
Raw Story: Then who is in steering the ship?
Ritter: An oligarchy of 'public servant' classes who are drawn from business, and serve naked economic interests. This is true whether you are Democrat or Republican.
Raw Story: Several insiders have expressed concern over possible oil shortage riots. Would the Patriot Act be put to use, in your opinion, to address such riots?
Ritter: [The Patriot Act] is simply the NeoCons putting their judicial agenda in place by other means. It was a compilation of all of the conservative initiatives, not NeoCon initiatives, which the conservative Republicans have been pushing for, including a more conservative law enforcement element.
This is not unhealthy as long is it is done properly, through legislation, proper channels of debate and discourse. A lot of this had been submitted in the past, but was rejected. After 9/11 all of these initiatives were lumped together.
There are some things in the Patriot Act I agree with, but the Patriot Act requires a responsible society. The NeoCons they have no interest in a responsible society; they simply used the conservatives as a vehicle to push an agenda to assault the individual civil liberties.
As the Patriot Act is now, how it came about, is entirely un-American. It is extreme legislation that does nothing to address the issues it professes to, but moreover, it is as an existing law, un-American. What makes it un-American is that no one read it before they voted for it. So the process was un-American, and the motivation behind it was un-American. We cannot have a nation that is governed by fear. The patriot act is un-American simply because it exists.
Raw Story: So how do citizens address this situation since the very means of addressing it via Congress seem to have been closed off?
Ritter: Congress has ceased to function as a viable tool of government. What is needed is for leaders of honor to resign in protest.
Raw Story: I have had this conversation some in Congress and have asked about their thoughts on shutting down Congress and cleaning house. Their counter is that they are afraid to “leave the crazies in control.”
Ritter: They are already in control. If the people want to heal this country, the people have to purge the failing of this country. Vote them out, it might take two or three cycles, but it will happen and it will take time.
Everyone who voted for the war in Iraq should be voted out of office because it violated the violated article six of the Constitution. Everyone who voted for the Patriot Act needs to go because they did not represent the people by voting on legislation they did not read. They have to go, regardless of party. They have through their actions decided who stays and who goes.
Hope, and worries, for the future
Raw Story: You suggest Americans vote out all who voted for these measures. If New Yorkers voted out Hillary, who voted for both the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq, and who is also leading pack of the Democratic Party for the 2008 nomination, what then?
Ritter: Hillary is the manifestation of all that ails the Democratic Party. She stands for nothing. She has been compromised by her voting record...how can she stand for anything worth supporting? And yet, she will be the Democratic nominee in 2008, thus guaranteeing another NeoCon/Republican victory. 'Dump Hillary Now' would be the smartest move Dean could make as the new Democratic National Committee Chair.... Like I said, it might take two or three cycles, but it will happen and it will take time.
Raw Story: What about Dean?
Ritter: Dean has to be part of the process of rebuilding and that will take time. Dean cannot run for President, because Dean cannot run as a Democrat--the party is not set up to sustain someone like him. He is one of the exceptions in a corrupt party. He is also not corrupted by his voting record. He is someone who represents something, he did not vote for the war in Iraq, for example.
Raw Story: We talked about this current social crisis as a closed loop during the second installment. Have you ever seen a loop like this throughout the history of the US? What does this mean?
Ritter: The American experiment is much too complex to be destroyed by the NeoCons. In the end, the NeoCons will lose. It may take ten to twelve more years, and the costs will be horrific, but America will survive. There will be one hell of a mess to clean up, though, after the fall of the NeoCons.
Raw Story: Where do you see America, should things continue as is, in five years from now?
Ritter: At war, bankrupt morally and fiscally, and in great pain....and only half-way through the nightmare. Ten to twelve years is what we will have to get through, but we will get through it.