Scott Ritter: Former U.N. weapons inspector talks tough to Mohawk students
PDF File With Verbatim Remarks
December 19,. 2003
Gulf Veteran & Weapons Inspector
BUCKLAND - Read the Constitution and become an informed citizen to avoid a situation like the Iraq War, a former U.N. weapons inspector told Mohawk Trail Regional School students Friday.
"Our Constitution wins hands down," said former Marine Scott Ritter, who has become an unabashed critic of George W. Bush and his Iraq policy.
And he minced no words telling the students how wrong he thinks the war and Bush are, during a visit to the school sponsored by Traprock Peace Center of Deerfield.
After questioning both the United States' and the United Nations' resolve to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, Ritter resigned from his post in 1998 after seven years of service following the first Gulf War.
Ritter plunged dramatically into his Mohawk presentation, which he characterized as "in your face," and challenged students to come back at him in the same vein. He offered a graphic description of being shot and how a young soldier's life becomes gratitude for "one breath after another."
Ritter's message is resoundingly that the war did not have to start and ought not have and that President Bush is "either incompetent or a liar" to have told Americans he had proof Iraq was proliferating weapons of mass destruction.
"After nine months we haven't found any," Ritter said of the weapons claim. He said during his years on the ground in Iraq searching for them, he believes there were weapons, that they were hidden and that the Iraqis did "lie." But, he added, after four or five years "taking sites apart" to search for them, inspectors were "able to ascertain 90-95 percent of the weapons produced by Iraq had been destroyed."
"The system we call the United States of America failed, it failed miserably," Ritter said of the subsequent move to war. "Iraq is the manifestation of all the failures of American citizens. If you don't live citizenship, you're a consumer. Iraq is your issue; you're going to pay the price. My generation failed you."
"This is your life, what are you going to do about it?" he challenged students. "I can train a monkey to wave an American flag. That does not make the monkey patriotic."
Saying he is probably "the most anti-war person you're ever going to meet," the 12-year veteran said he's also "no pacifist."
"If someone threatens my country, if someone threatens you I'm willing to lay down my life for you," he said.