Ex-weapons inspector and former Marine Scott Ritter is calling for regime change in Washington.
By Jan Barry

05/05/03: (VIAW)Scott Ritter may be the Bush reelection team’s worse nightmare.

The former UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq and card-carrying Republican is barnstorming America with a blunt message: George W. Bush’s war on Iraq was waged on a “bodyguard of lies.”

“We need regime change, and we need it quick,” Ritter told a gathering of peace activists in New Jersey on Sunday. “George W. Bush does not have the right…to represent the American people, if he told a lie. And he told a whopper.”

That whopper, said Ritter, was claiming that the US government had evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction and that was why Iraq must be invaded. The facts, he said, are that “the inspections worked. The United Nations did disarm Iraq.”

“I want the president impeached because he lied to the Congress of the United States,” Ritter said. “He may well go out and tell another lie about weapons of mass destruction” being found amid the rubble in Iraq. But, Ritter said, any scheme to plant evidence would run afoul of professional soldiers like those he served with in Gulf War I. “I can tell you, my fellow officers won’t sustain that lie.”

Ritter is a former Marine major who worked as a weapons inspector for the United Nations in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. These days he’s an antiwar activist on a mission to pacify Washington, DC.

“What happened in Baghdad last month was not in accordance with international law. What happened in Baghdad last month was a west Texas lynching,” Ritter said at New Jersey Peace Action’s annual dinner, where he was the guest of honor. “President Bush is implementing a policy of imperialism.”

Ritter said Americans who don’t want the United States to go the way of all empires—which, he said, die of indigestion—will have to fight an historic political battle over the nation’s future. “We can’t allow a bunch of neoconservatives to hijack America,” he said. “It’s not a right-wing fraternity pin—the American flag, we own it, the American people.”

Ritter said he has been taking his blunt message to college campuses and other forums around the country. And when anyone demands that he support the war in Iraq, he replies: “What part of war do you want to support?” and describes in graphic detail the hell hole of war.

Recounting the story of a Marine in a battle in Iraq, Ritter said that a soldier is only one face of patriotism. “Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the other face of patriotism—the people of the United States. … The other face of patriotism is the American citizen who gets up in the morning” and carries out the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.

“If you give up now, you are giving up on American democracy,” he said. Ritter urged the assembled peace activists to reach out to Republicans like himself and raise the constitutional issues and uncomfortable facts that Bush has run roughshod over. Among those facts, he said, is this glaring one:

“Bush was a deserter from his unit during the Vietnam War. He doesn’t know what it means to support the troops.”

Jan Barry, a Vietnam veteran, is a journalist living in New Jersey. Jan is also an editor of VAIW and a contributing editor of Intervention Mag.

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