By agreeing to allow the unconditional return of weapons inspectors, Iraq has done well to expose – sadly, not halt – the Bush administration’s unstoppable agenda.

This gesture by Iraq was not so much a “stunning turnabout” – as the media characterized it – but a culmination of a plain (and quite reasonable) attempt by an economically desperate Iraq to tie the return of inspectors to the lifting of sanctions. This failed!

Its predictably disgruntled response confirms that the Bush administration doesn’t want Saddam to roll over, but wants, very plainly, to sock it to Saddam!

During his address to the U.N.’s General Assembly, Bush thundered about “Free societies” not being in the habit of intimidating “through cruelty and conquest.” Was this, I wonder, a Freudian projection? Because “cruelty and conquest” are realistically what the Bush administration has in store for Iraq.

In the process of promising to wage war in the name of cherished American values, Bush has forgotten a pesky little detail: The U.S. government is beholden to the Constitution, which prohibits the president from declaring war, something he has, to all intents and purposes, already done. (The U.S. is already flying sorties over Iraq.)

The Congress alone can declare war on another nation. And only then can the president wage it. Waging war is separate from – and predicated upon – Congress’ declaration, pursuant to deliberations.

Rather than go the constitutional route, Bush began by declaring his commitment to topple the regime in Baghdad, believing somehow that such a prerogative was a policy privilege he commandeered on being elected. The unconstitutional implications of Bush’s audacious imperialism never really hit home with Americans.

Flouting his obligation to get “the consent of the governed,” to quote the Declaration of Independence, Bush ended up seeking approval from the U.N., a World Hegemony entirely unrepresentative of – even hostile to – the American people. He is now bullying Congress to authorize war against Iraq before, you guessed, November’s midterm elections. At this rate, Congress’ vote will be no more than a formality. War will have been declared unconstitutionally by executive order!

By doing what Bush dreads, namely, acquiescing on inspectors, the Iraqis will inadvertently also unfurl the lattice of lies about Iraq that is serving to propel Bush’s war.

The president’s swirls of rhetoric before the U.N.’s General Assembly were not even tangentially related to the original indictment against Iraq. Remember that Iraq was accused of having a hand in Sept. 11, and directly supporting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Iraq is a secular dictatorship profoundly at odds with Islamic fundamentalism. It made sense, then, when no less an authority than the former head of the CIA’s counter-terrorism office, Vincent M. Cannistraro, stated categorically that there was no evidence for Iraq’s links to al-Qaida. Soon the putative Prague meeting between Muhamad Atta, the ringleader of Sept. 11, and Iraqi intelligence, turned out to be bogus as well.

What remained for Bush to do was to pirate the old, pre-Gulf War narrative for his U.N. address. Devoid of new substantive facts, the speech is outdated by 11 years and one war. Lacking proof of Iraqi links to al-Qaida, Bush switched course and speculatively fixed on accusing Iraq of re-acquiring chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as long-range ballistic missiles. Essentially, Iraq is being convicted based on a redux of her record during – and prior to – the Gulf War, not based on the current threat she poses to the U.S. and the region.

Enter Scott Ritter, true American patriot.

Ritter is a 12-year Marine Corps and Gulf War veteran. He is also a Republican. Most pertinent, Ritter was a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, and is much less cavalier than the president about sending Americans to die in Iraq. Equally grave are Ritter’s misgivings about killing innocent Iraqis.

Ritter’s case against such an attack is founded in reason and fact, not in political expediency. He understands the technology that goes into making, acquiring and detecting weapons of mass destruction. Having spent seven years inspecting and turning Iraq inside out, Ritter says Iraq has been 95 percent disarmed and has no weapons of mass destruction, an assessment backed by many experts in strategic studies.

This Third World nation – whose military prowess is now a fifth of what it was when hobbled during the Gulf War, the nation that has no navy or air force – is not a threat to American national security!

Based on Iraq’s current behavior, an attack on her would defy the very foundations of international law, “which calls for the peaceful resolution of problems between nations.” There is no moral argument for attacking a nation that has not aggressed against the U.S. According to this strapping ex-warrior, basic morality doesn’t justify a war on Iraq.

Judging from the bipartisan slobbering the president’s moral preening has elicited, Ritter’s morals are like pearls before swine.


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