Scott Ritter: 'IRAN IS NOT A THREAT'
Author, Former UN Weapons Inspector
Scott Ritter: Former United States Marine. Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector in Iraq. Author. Lecturer. Conservative.
Since prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Scott Ritter has become a major opponent of the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East. As UN Weapons Inspector, Ritter found no evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, a finding that differed with the Bush regime's pre-conceived plans for regime change. He categorically opposed the Iraq war, and utterly opposes any attack on Iran, a country he has visited and covers extensively in his 2006 book Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change, which follows his 2005 book Iraq Confidential.
Yet even a respected author, career military man and former Intelligence Officer needs to be enlightened on certain issues. Despite his regular, urgent warnings of a pending U.S. attack on Iran, he has repeatedly parroted the utterly false rumor that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to nuke Israel, blow it up, and kill everyone living there. Even as recently as September 2007, Ritter has continued to spread this falsehood in interviews and appearances, despite the fact that it undercuts his own arguments against conflict with Iran.
Yet in an October 8, 2007 article The Big Lie: 'Iran is a Threat', Ritter finally reverses himself on this longstanding rumor. To quote from the article:
Iran as a nation represents absolutely no threat to the national security of the United States, or of its major allies in the region, including Israel. The media hype concerning alleged statements made by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has created and sustained the myth that Iran seeks the destruction of the State of Israel. Two points of fact directly contradict this myth. First and foremost, Ahmadinejad never articulated an Iranian policy objective to destroy Israel, rather noting that Israel’s policies would lead to its “vanishing from the pages of time.” Second, and perhaps most important, Ahmadinejad does not make foreign policy decisions on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the sole purview of the “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Khomeini. In 2003 Khomeini initiated a diplomatic outreach to the United States inclusive of an offer to recognize Israel’s right to exist. This initiative was rejected by the United States, but nevertheless represents the clearest indication of what the true policy objective of Iran is vis-à-vis Israel.
Clearly, Scott Ritter has been edified by Professor Juan Cole, as well as The Mossadegh Project's ubiquitous article "WIPED OFF THE MAP" - The Rumor of the Century by Arash Norouzi, first published on this site in January 2007. In fact, Ritter was quoted in our article deliberately-- not only to represent the extent the rumor had infected even the peace movement, but also as a kind of siren song to prompt Ritter to modify his remarks.
When it was published on Antiwar.com in May 2007, the piece was prominently displayed right next to Ritter's own radio interview with the site. If he had checked the web site then, he couldn't have missed it. It took 10 months, but evidently, Ritter has finally been informed of the facts and now knows that the other "big lie"-- that 'wiped off the map' myth- is just that.
Here is Scott Ritter interviewed on Democracy Now! one year earlier, in October 2006:
AMY GOODMAN: Scott Ritter, one of the things you talk about in your book is that no attention has been paid to the Supreme Leader's pronouncement in the form of a fatwa, that Iran rejects outright the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
SCOTT RITTER: Well, when we say “Supreme Leader,” first of all, most Americans are going to scratch their head and say, “Who?” because, you see, we have a poster boy for demonization out there. His name is Ahmadinejad. He’s the idiot that comes out and says really stupid vile things, such as, “It is the goal of Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the world,” and he makes ridiculous statements about the United States and etc. And, of course, man, he -- it’s a field day for the American media, for the Western media, because you get all the little sound bites out there, 'Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad', President of Iran. But what people don't understand is, while he can vocalize all this, his finger is not on any button of power. If you read the Iranian constitution, you’ll see that the president of Iran is almost a figurehead.
The true power in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is the Ayatollah Khamenei. He is supported by an organization called the Guardian Council. Then there’s another group called the Expediency Council. These are the people that control the military, the police, the nuclear program, all the instruments of power. And not only has the Supreme Leader issued a fatwa that says that nuclear weapons are not compatible with Islamic law, with the Shia belief system that he is responsible, in 2003 he actually reached out to the Bush administration via the Swiss embassy and said, 'Look, we would like to normalize relations with the United States. We’d like to initiate a process that leads to a peace treaty between Israel and Iran.' Get this! Israel and Iran. He’s not saying, “We want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” He is saying, “We want peace with Israel.” And they were willing to put their nuclear program on the table.