Sunday, April 24, 2005

Frontier Justice, by Scott Ritter

Shakespeare said in Hamlet that one in ten thousand men were honest. I feel Scott Ritter may be one of those few honest men. Of all who have argued against the war in Iraq, his is the most compelling case.

Why I say that, primarily, is because Ritter is from the military. He’s a former Marine intelligence officer; he also served in the Gulf War. This guy is no Michael Moore, he doesn’t push that sort of agenda. What motivates him is a solid belief that his government is simply lieing in order to implement the ‘vision’, if you can call it that, of a small group of neo-cons, more specifically the group pushing their Project for a New American Century, or PNAC. Indeed, Ritter constantly rails against this group throughout the book, calling them a posse, with ‘Sheriff Bush’ as their ringleader.

Everyone of course knows that Ritter worked as a weapons inspector in Iraq, under the United Nations. He quit when Australian Richard Butler took over, taking issue with what he believed were directions coming from the US government on how the inspections should be proceeding, when it was the UN that was in charge of the inspections.

With his extensive and deep experience with weapons inspection in Iraq, Ritter takes us though all the obvious dodgy intelligence that was used to take us to war, and blames a docile and compliant media in not taking the Bush administration to task. The right questions were just not asked.

The most alarming aspect of this book, besides the lies that we were told about weapons of mass destruction, is the dim future Ritter sees for his country, and by extension, the rest of the world. He believes democracy is rotting and the American Constitution is at risk of being undermined.

On the American Constitution he writes:

‘The constitution defines the United States as a nation of law, a civilized society functioning as a democratic republic that guarantees each citizen the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Inherent in this social model is the concept of deomocratic representation, where government officals are elected by, and held accountable to, the free will of the people.’

Ritter is straight to the point on the dangers of disengagement from the political process:

‘When citizens stop actively participating in democracy, they run the risk of ceding control to power elites who may not have the best interests of the republic in mind. Such power elites – corporate entities, special interest groups, political ideologues, and others – often seek to maintain their influence by convincing the citizenry that the well-being of the collective is best decided by handing power and influence to a few, and trusting in these few to do right by the majority. Power elites sometimes exploit feat and ignorance as a means of selling a given policy. In this manner, power elites seek to wrap the citizen in a cocoon of comfort and security, promising a life journey of relative peace and prosperity if the citizen agrees not to rock the boat.

‘But this is not citizenship – it is consumerism, and consumerism at the expense of citizenship represents the death of the American democratic republic.’

The last chapter is a doozie. Ritter firmly believes that the US is on the road to fascism, and drastic steps – by that I mean drastic democratic steps by citizens – need to be taken. He compares the new neo-con dream, the Project for a New American Century, as being very close to the ideology of Mussolini and Nazism. He spells right out that Americans need to confront this:

‘Americans need to come to terms with two words – oligarchy and fascism.’

I’m not one for comparing George W. Bush to Hitler, but when Ritter does it, with such conviction, I’m willing to listen:

‘It is our responsibility as citizens to be ever vigilant in defence of our society. This means we should be honest in our evaluation of what is transpiring around us in the name of government. Bush as Hitler? You’re damn right. For Americans, Bush is worse than Hitler. Hitler never came close to destroying the American way of life; Bush is accomplishing that objective in spades. Hitler dreamed of global conquest; Bush is doing his utmost to achieve it.’

I wonder what Scott Ritter would be doing with himself if his work as a weapons inspector had not exposed him to the abuses of American power? He writes so well and so convincingly of the responsibilities of democracy. He’s certainly put himself on the line for what he believes in, and has been demonised and ridiculed by the Fox network, only to have events prove him right.

Chalmers Johnson has written the American empire is in a state of inexorable decline. Gore Vidal thinks the same thing. Norman Mailer has long thought the US is lurching towards fascism. A lot of great minds seem to be calmly accepting such a state of affairs as inevitable.

Frontier Justice is a must read book. Ritter’s predictions have so far been proven right. It’s in our best interests to pay more attention to him.

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