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Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change Paperback – September 28, 2007
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As a U.S. Marine officer in the Gulf War, Ritter served as a ballistic missile advisor to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and then became a high-up UN weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998. Now he is a vociferous, controversial critic of the Bush II administration and the Iraq War. In his latest expose, Ritter trains his inspector's eyes on Iran, meticulously analyzing the rhetoric about Tehran beginning with the first Bush presidency when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, then skeptically parsing the protracted, politically tangled wrangling over Iran's nuclear program, and vehemently objecting to what he sees as excessive American alignment with Israel. The most interesting figure to emerge from Ritter's flinty yet invaluable inquiry is John Bolton, current U.S. ambassador to the UN and a neo-con instrumental in pushing for regime changes in the Middle East "at any cost." In closing, Ritter offers shrewd observations about why things have cooled off regarding Iran as the midterm elections loom and cautions that war with Iran would be catastrophic and must be averted. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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It is Mr. Ritter's contention that the Busch administration's primary tool of foreign policy is that of regime change. Any efforts by those nations that are so targeted to engage us in diplomacy have and will be rebuffed. This administration will not talk to those it considers it's enemies. This has been challenged in the media by the James Baker group, but it remains to be seen if they will effect any changes.
Target Iran, according to Mr. Ritter, in based on press coverage in the Middle East and private confirmation of those stories by members of our intelligence community. The story is that America is already working inside Iran with dissidents to identify targets. We are also said to be negotiating the details of staging areas for our base of attack for this widening of the Middle East war. Once that is completed, this administration intends to attack.
The public is and will be sold the same scenario in which (ala Downing Street memo), the facts will be fixed around the policy.
Why will this happen? One element is the influence of Israel. Iran is perceived, and not incorrectly, as a major threat to Israel. But Ritter makes the point that Israeli and American interests are not identical. After the recent events in Southern Lebanon, watching our congress and our administration give their complete support to whatever Israel was going to do, it's hard to see much separation.
Whatever the threat to us from Iran, Mr. Ritter says it's very much overblown at this point and should not lead to war. Iran, according to Ritter, approached this administration several years ago to normalize relations and limit it's nuclear research. They were rebuffed. Mr. Busch can only visualize regime change.
If this goes forward as Mr. Hersh and Ritter both seem to think is inevitable, what are the chances of success? According to these gentlemen, the results will be utter catastrophe. Iran will immediately shut off the oil spigot. Venezuela will create a hemispheric crisis by acting in sympathy and fail to honor their US contracts. US troops in Iraq will be under attack by the Shia and possibly because of a religious fatwa in response to our attack. Iranian missiles will be directed against the Saudi oil fields to further disrupt the world markets. The world economy will be plunged into a massive recession. This could lead to a ground invasion of US troops most likely from Uzbekistan that could easily turn into a trap. Our ground troops are seriously depleted and under equipped at this point already. Here is where Ritter says this administration could use field grade nuclear weapons to break the back of Iran. He thinks this is the ultimate deal breaker because it absolutely assures us that radical Arabs will find a way over time to deliver a nuclear bomb to an American city.
These scenarios seem outlandish, except there are so many radical Republican sources cheering on war with Iran, that one cannot expect this administration to not once again respond with a military solution as the first order of business. Of course, they visualize success not the failure predicted by Ritter.
The massive failure of our government during Katrina and the fiasco in Iraq are both symptoms of the same problems in the Busch administration. What if war with Iran leads to the doomsday scenario that Ritter and Hersh talk about. This book is a sober assessment of these issues and should be read widely by the public.
The potential of a Democratic House of Representatives in the near future will not change the scenario described by Ritter. American militarism is ascendant. As Ritter says, if the war in Iraq were going well, the public would be very satisfied. The fact that the war is against all tenets of international law and was an immoral act on our part is not something that most of us seem to worry about. Too many Democrats only talk about running a competent war.
This detail packed book, which strikes me as even-handed and objective, begins in the early 1990s and follows more or less chronologically the U.S. relationship with the government of Iran. It describes in depth how the U.S. administrations of Clinton and then Bush have descended into increasing states of distrust of Iran as it has become obvious that the development of nuclear technology is an urgent priority for that country, particularly as the finite limits of future oil production are becoming visible. It rightly points out the hypocrisy of the U.S. position in this matter since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Iran is a signatory specifically stipulates the legitimate rights of nations to pursue the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In fact the entire flaw in the post WWII nuclear conundrum is the near impossibility to discern a separation between peaceful nuclear activities and military applications.
The book takes us through the arcane details of the inspection process as it has evolved under the direction of the chief of the IAEA, Mohammed el Baradei, and the increasingly complex and often confrontational relationship between the Iranian regime, the Bush administration, and the often awkward role played by the EU3 (Britain, Germany, France), Russia, and China in attempting to formulate a UN policy to deal with an issue that is perceived widely differently by these various parties. The U.S.-Iran relationship has taken a number of forms but the underlying premise on the part of the current U.S. government is regime change, though never acknowledged in these specific terms. It is strongly justified in our most recent National Security Strategy statement of March 2006. And always just below the surface is the powerful influence of Israel and the "Israel Lobby" on U.S. policy.
The Bush administration has used various forms of subterfuge to try to convince the world of an Iranian program to build nuclear weapons although proof of this is lacking as Ritter painstakingly documents. This then becomes justification for preemptive military action that our neoconservative leadership is pushing for, while they tell us that U.S. aims in this matter are peaceful. It is apparent that Iran is being asked to prove a negative here, much like Saddam Hussein was prior to our invasion of Iraq. This has been further aggravated by Bush's recess appointment of the confrontational John Bolton as our representative to the UN. Our Iraq debacle is very possibly on the verge of being repeated in Iran and Scott Ritter is on a crusade to inform the American people of what is happening before it is too late, and the tragedy that awaits us if we give in to the neoconservative plans to overthrow the government of Iran by military force.
Toward the end of the book Ritter takes off the gloves and confronts the danger of conflating the interests of the U.S. with those of Israel. In his final chapter he spells it out and it is a powerful message. This is really the meat and potatoes of the book. Ritter details in horrifying yet convincing style just what will happen if the U.S. succumbs to Israeli pressure and mounts military action against Iran. It would jeopardize the very foundations of our civil society and economy. You have to read the book because I can't do justice to the compelling arguments this highly qualified and passionate expert makes. This is really so important that I want to downplay one obvious flaw of the book. It is literally filled with typographical and grammatical errors. At one point, for example, a page says Iraq when the author undoubtedly meant Iran. On another page it describes an event in 2005 which obviously occurred in 2004. I believe the Nation Books rushed this volume into print because of the urgency of the message and it needs another visit to the editors to clear up these flaws. However, this in no way compromises the essential content of the book.
A further point is in order here. Any public utterance that criticizes Israel risks the wrath of many Jewish people and the label of anti-Semitism. I agree with Scott Ritter that Israel has far more to lose by pursuing a military solution to her differences with the Islamic world than by the rational use of diplomacy. Israel is unique and deserves American guarantees of protection. Scott Ritter has no argument with this.
This is a book that cries out to a complacent and uninformed American public. It needs to be read widely.