Updated: Apr 2, 2022
“Most Americans thought that we fought ISIS. We didn’t. ISIS was fought by the Iranians, by the Iraqis, by the Shia militias who were mobilised. We came in afterwards as a support, we played a role, but we weren’t the pre-eminent fighters. Iran defeated ISIS.” Ritter, April, 2021.
Pretty bold statement, but he was a ferocious man. A scathing critic of US foreign Policy and the US in the Iraq War, Scott Ritter truly is the Unsung Hero calling out the Pentagon and their protected peers. He doesn’t care, and rightly so.
He was seen as The Alpha Dog, an animal, an ex-marine corp who had more bollocks than a football fan pissed off his head, up for a fight at a derby. Those may seem like he was all for going out to Iraq and bombing the shit out of the Saddam Regime, but ironically, no. Now seen as one of the most controversial figures in the Pentagon, Ritter has championed the anti-War campaign, the war that killed over 200,000 Iraqi civilians (an underestimated figure due to the lack of reporting both by the Iraqis and the US) and thousands of soldiers from all sides of the globe.
Scott Ritter says that, “The mission that I was on was the mission to find the truth,” and he did, but the bar for evidence disproving the existence of WMDs in Iraq was set much higher in America within the intelligence services, compared to that which proved that they did exist. It is fair to say that, in plain terms, you could give the CIA a shovel with shit on it, but if there was any smell of mustard gas, cyanide or any other chemical, they would put it in their dossier of concrete evidence, giving them more of a reason to go to war.
Ritter was called upon by the United Nations in 1991 as a weapons inspector, sent to Iraq with a team to hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) that would prove the theory held by the West that Saddam Hussein was an international threat; although Hussein was a dangerous leader, he ended up not having these weapons that solely formed the forefront piece of evidence to launch military invasions. However, the Iraqis at the time had a reputation for wholeheartedly lying about their weapons programmes, and when called up to question by UN lawyer Rolf Ekéus, they provided him with a list that might as well have said the words “Hussein isn’t even President.”
Ritter and Ekéus had to go far back in the history of Iraqi production of chemical weapons, and what Ritter found was that although Hussein did have weapons prior to 1991, they were destroyed completely before the Iraq war happened in 2003, well before, ten years before. However, due to Hussein’s strategy to do anything but comply with the UN investigation, led by the American Pitbull, the growing initial impression on Ritter was that the Iraqis were still lying through their teeth. You can’t blame him for thinking that they held the weapons, not after the first Gulf War. Saddam still posed as a threat to the neighbouring Middle Eastern countries and far beyond, to the West as well.
One inspection that Ritter led was attacked by demonstrators, growing in numbers to well over one thousand people, an unhinged man was given a knife by Iraqi security forces, resulting in this man lunging through a window and attempting to stab an inspector. That was when Ritter said that he had had enough. He put his foot down, and it was this determination that hindered his ability to recognise the truth at first when that was what the evidence was presenting to him. Ritter said that they “were not there to fight, but they were there to work in a cooperative environment,” but the Iraqis were not playing ball.
Enter Hussein Kamel al-Majid; the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein who was the previous head of the WMD programme, but he defected to Jordan for extremely unclear reasons. He was previously known as untouchable, seen as the elite of Iraqi politics, standing shoulder to shoulder with Saddam. In his youth he had an air of arrogance about him, Rolf Ekéus remembered him as a young man, laxly lying across a sofa and tapping his hand gun on his side, listening in and laughing during a serious meeting that Rolf was having with the Iraqi Prime Minister at the time. However, it was this that is what struck Ekéus when he came to meet Kamel later on; the change was incomprehensible. There were reports of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s younger son, Kamel's brother-in-law, setting off a machine gun at a party held by Kamel, killing six women involved. These were just glimpses of the stone cold, remorseless regime that had no regret when it came to making its people suffer, and contributed to why Kamel left.
Kamel defected to Jordan and started his independent political career, posing himself as a future leader for a peaceful and progressive Iraq. Ekéus saw this as an advantage to find out the truth behind Saddam’s programme, but before he flew to Jordan to talk to Kamel, the Iraqi PM called him and told him to come to Iraq for a meeting before, that there were scientists who could give him new intel on the WMD programme; this was not the case though. As Ekéus was about to go to the airport after the interviews he was taken to what he saw as a chicken farm. Rolf was intrigued, had the door broken into and went in to find that there were copious documents that he and Ritter had been searching for; they revealed that Hussein had a Nerve Programme, a Biological Weapons Programme and to add to this, a Germ Warfare Unit. Rolf had a theory that this was Hussein’s way of telling Ekéus what they feared Kamel would, so they led him to this ‘chicken farm’ to break the news.
Ekéus now needed to get to Jordan, so he went to see Saddam’s ex-right hand man. Kamel met the Rolf, the intelligence agents and an interpreter at his residing palace, but Kamel immediately let Rolf know that the interpreter accompanying was in fact an Iraqi spy; Saddam had infiltrated the investigation, Rolf had been set up. However, the investigation had to continue, and Ekéus needed to confirm whether the documents were true, so the interpreter was sent out of the room and lo and behold, Ekéus hit the fucking jackpot; and not only that, and bear this in mind because this is key, Kamel revealed that by 1992 and 1993, due to the high skill of the UN Ritter-led inspectors, there weren’t any weapons to find, they had been destroyed, there were only documents because although the Iraqis knew they couldn’t get away with acting like they were innocent (that would be fucking unrealistic for a start), the documents couldn’t prove evidence, but only ideology and future interest. The investigation ends and Rolf and Kamel talk fondly, off the record. Kamel tells Rolf about his future plans, that he regretted being involved in the ruthless regime and that he believed that it was time for Saddam to step down from leadership in a dignified way. Kamel had great plans to create a peaceful Middle East, with Iraq at its centre.
Although positive to hear, Saddam hadn’t been dealt with; and sadly Kamel fell ill and his relationship with the king of Jordan had deteriorated. Rumours began to swirl that he wanted to return home to Iraq, and Rolf made another visit to Jordan to see Kamel who he found in a dire, sickly state; Kamel revealed that he knew deep down he didn’t have enough power against Saddam, that the opposition against Saddam had given up and that his support internationally wasn’t nearly as strong enough as it needed to be. Rolf returned to a man in a hopeless state. Kamel’s once glistening vision of a peaceful Middle East was now dead in the water. He wanted to go home, but Rolf begged him to stay in Jordan. Yet, Kamel’s reply was patriotic. “They need me.” Those were his words, and so he returned to Iraq, later to be separated from his children and wife; he retired to his family home, and his house was attacked by the Iraqi Security Forces, led by a senior in Saddam’s Regime, and fathers, cousins and brothers were all murdered along with Kamel. The only person to survive was his mother, who was later killed (cut to pieces) in the early 2000s.
Rolf was devastated, and turned to Scott Ritter, deciding that it was time to unleash the War Dog side of him.
Ritter completely changed his techniques, which were already thorough; he began to train his subordinate inspectors to do it his way, and wanted to make them, “the most powerful source of intelligence in the world.”
He said that he told the inspectors “When we go into Iraq there’s one boss and there’s one boss only. That’s me.” His words to them weren’t that of briefings which you would get in an intelligence room, or an update on any information from the top, but intense adrenaline-pumping speeches getting not only the inspectors riled up, but Ritter too. He said “When you look at me you’re looking at an Alpha Dog. I don’t back down…We don’t back down, I will be in their face, when we inspect a facility they will know we inspected the facility.” And then my personal favourite, “I am going to piss all over their walls. I am going to leave my mark and you are too.”
And why did Ritter have such an ego, so much confidence, a fucking massive chip on the side of his wall of a shoulder? Because no one else was on the ground in Iraq, and the Saddam Regime was the then-day ISIS. Finding WMDs was like finding Bin Laden’s cave when the time came about, and it was a trophy that no one could denounce. Ritter wasn’t doing it necessarily for the title however, but the ex-marine had an attitude like no other, and when I say he was a War Dog, I mean it. He had no fear, he was investigating the centre of the Saddam Regime, in the actual Palaces tearing them up like building sites, due to the fact that the theory was the Iraqis would do anything to hide proof, even put documents or actual weapons under Saddam’s own bed. The inspectors and the Iraqis relationship crumbled, gun confrontations occurred, but that, in Ritter’s eyes, was just all part of the job, even when he was almost killed by soldiers at Iraqi checkpoints.
So confrontational that the Iraqis had to deny Ritter access, and you have to remember that he was being employed by the UN, not the USA. In 1998 he appeared on the front of the New York Times with the headline ‘Ritter Blocked’ and his team of inspectors were labelled as US spies by the Iraqis, which ultimately wasn’t the case, but the Iraqis used the testimony of Ritter’s aggressive dog-tag character to put him down and put his career with the UN in the mud.
Ekéus resigned after the CIA informed him of an Iraqi plan to murder him, and Ritter’s new boss telephoned Madeleine Albright, the then Secretary of State, and all of Ritter’s inspections were put a stop to. He came to the resolution that he wouldn’t be able to do his job anymore in the future, and resigned. In his statement in front of a committee, he stated he resigned, “Out of frustration because the United Nations Security Council, and the United States as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce post-Gulf war resolutions designed to disarm Iraq.” He accused the US of having a lack of policy to properly enforce investigations, and that he sincerely hoped that his “actions might help to change things.”
From 1992 to 1998, Ritter had admittedly painted a disingenuous picture of Iraq in his own head, but he had a revelation thinking about why he never found weapons, but only documents when his career came to a close before the Iraq War began. This was the moment he confirmed in his mind that they just simply didn’t exist.
As I say, he was an anti-War campaigner when it came about in 2003, because as he notably said, “We ain’t found shit,” he knew the truth. They hadn’t found the evidence because, to put it simply, it just wasn’t there. This is something Ekéus denies, he believes Ritter was too enthusiastic, and that is why the evidence was never discovered when Ritter was conducting the inspections for the UN, but Ritter is adamant that even if he had tried harder to find any evidence of WMDs, they weren’t there, and as the future went to show, the Iraqis had destroyed the WMDs by the time the investigation was in full swing.
Now bears the point, why was Ritter labelled as a rogue inspector? Was it because Ekéus’ reputation was one of peace and diplomacy, or was it because Ritter was such a Pitbull in the field?
Clinton bombed Iraq for four days soon after Ritter had resigned from his post, stating that it was a retaliation against the Iraqis for lying about having WMDs, but why would the Saddam Regime admit to the WMDs if they didn’t actually have them? Although they lied about their history to Ekéus before the inspectors arrived, at the present time of the inspections the WMDs didn’t exist.
The bombings were the final nail in the coffin that completely turned the Saddam Regime against the West, why wouldn’t it have? Baghdad had been damaged, the West had no concrete proof but theory, all in all Clinton fucked up; but the revolutionary attitude against the West, intimidated by Saddam spurred them on. It only got worse from there. As soon as the inspectors left and the bombings occurred, this had effectively ended all intelligence on any kind of Iraqi Weapons programme for the US, the UK and additionally Israel, the West had effectively fucked themselves, and this is where the assumption that because the Iraqis had lied in the past about their Weapons programme, and the fact that there was no proof that they weren’t lying at that point in time, they must have been continuing to lie, and therefore were still at the top of the agenda when it came to threats.
I look at Ritter, and there is no doubt in saying that he is the human form of marmite; you love him or you hate him. I happen to love him. He’s confident, he admits his mistakes, and he isn’t scared to speak up against the powers that be, who know that they can’t escape his comments or his scrutiny, because he does speak the truth. He doesn’t condone Trump, but the two share the same view on Afghanistan, “The man was the only President in modern history who went to the pentagon, sat down with all of his generals, and called them out for the losers they were.”
Losers. That’s how Scott sees them now, and upon reflection into his own actions that’s how he saw himself as well. It’s true, they were losers, clinging on to their egos and blatant pride by the skin of their teeth. Ritter knows that the fact the US still view themselves as the centre of the modern world will come back to bite them in the ass, because this egoism has caused President upon President to make repeated assumptions about the influence of the US. “The United States will fail in Syria…It’s just a question of how and when.”
And it’s true, after over twenty five years of war, four (five if you count Biden’s early career) Presidents, and an unchanged internal view from the White House and the Pentagon on the United States’ power, surely mistakes will continue to be made. He put it in simple terms in a tweet three days ago, “The US is leaving Afghanistan roughly as it found it two decades ago, with the Taliban intent and largely in charge, and Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups such as the Islamic State intact and continuing to operate from Afghan soil.”
Does that not show my point? There has been little change in the view on foreign policy from the United States, for over twenty years their ego has been at the centre, and to put it simply, those who they are attempting to fight have the same amount, if not more ego but also relentless passion for their respective beliefs, so why would they listen or make changes? Peace Talks at face value may be one thing, and may improve relations on the surface, but what you couldn’t see before still goes on, and take it from Ritter, we don’t even see a percentage of the truth in these countries.
I admire the man, and I hope that others would too. He put it well in 2002 before invasion, and after, the truth, his truth, prevailed.
“The sad thing is that the American people will only wake up once we invade Iraq. Once the international community explodes in a wave of anti-American sentiment, once American bodies start coming home, once we realise our position off Iraq is untenable, once we realise that by invading Iraq we’ve actually lost the war on terror because we no longer have the moral high ground. We'll win the war on terror as long as the world agrees that America was attacked, that America was wronged, but when America becomes the arrogant international bully, we will lose the world on this. We will no longer have consensus to pursue Osama bin Laden or anybody else. We'll be the bad guys.”
"That's when America will wake up. But it will be too late at that point.”
That’s exactly what happened.