President Eisenhower warned us of the perils of "the military-industrial complex,"
asking the all-important question: "What can the world, or any nation in it, hope
for if no turning is found on this dread road" to increasing militarism?
And before Ike there was Truman, who, despite having used the A-bomb, wasn't
without a moral conscience. In their new book, "Prophets Without Honor: A Requiem
for Moral Patriotism," William Strabala and Michael Palecek recount how in 1945
Truman toured "the rubble of a devastated Berlin while en route to the Potsdam
Conference." Has President Bush toured the rubble of a devastated Afghanistan?
To quote a bumper sticker I once saw: "I miss Ike. Hell, I even miss Harry,"
especially after reading the war philosophy of one of the main Gulf War planners.
In a 1996 USAF Air Power magazine article, Col. John Warden wrote: "strategic
war is war to force the enemy state or organization to do what you want it to
do...It is...the whole system that is our target, not its military forces."
The "whole system" is our target? Pardon my naiveté, but I thought attacking
non-military targets - a.k.a. targeting civilian infrastructure - is considered
to be terrorism.
Comparing "enemy systems" to five overlapping rings, each marked for varying
degrees of destruction, Warden wrote: "The fourth most critical ring is the population.
Moral objections aside...." Say what? Isn't our moral sense precisely what makes
us human? How else to explain Truman's trepidation: "I fear the machines (of war)
are ahead of morals by some centuries," he wrote.
Cut from the same mold as Ike and Truman is former U.S. Marine intelligence
officer and UNSCOM chief inspector Scott Ritter. A ballistic missile expert who
served on the staff of Gen. Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War, this guy is no bleeding-heart
peacenik squeamish about war.
But as one who has witnessed the horrors of battle, he believes military might
ought to be reserved for defending clear national interests. When it comes to
Iraq, Ritter told me last week, U.S. military action would be justified if there
was evidence linking the Iraqi government to the Sept. 11 attacks, or if there
was evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Problem is, no such
There are few people on the planet who know more about Iraq's military capabilities
than does Ritter. When UNSCOM realized that Iraqi officials had been lying about
its weapons program, Ritter was the expert they called in to find what Saddam
was hiding, and where, and then to destroy it.
"I bear personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector
in Iraq for the United Nations to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
programs and the effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating
them," Ritter explained.
From the beginning Ritter and his UNSCOM team refused to believe any official
declarations of the Iraqi government. So they meticulously tracked down and destroyed
nearly every hidden bomb, missile, and weapons factory in Iraq. By the time they
were finished Iraq had been stripped of 90 to 95 percent of its weapons of mass
The missing 10 percent, Ritter said, was mostly destroyed in the Gulf War,
making 100 percent quantitative compliance with the U.N. disarmament mandate an
impossible benchmark. Talk now of Iraq's refusal to allow inspections is a red
"With the exception of mustard agent, all chemical agents produced by Iraq
prior to 1990 would have degraded within five years. The same holds true for biological
agents, which would have been neutralized through natural processes within three
years of manufacture," not to mention the fact that chemical weapons emits vented
gasses that can be detected by U.S. eavesdropping. The same holds true for the
manufacture of nuclear weapons, which emit detectable gamma rays. We've been watching,
via satellite and other means, and have seen none of this, Ritter said.
So why would the expertise of this "card-carrying Republican in the conservative-moderate
range who voted for George W. Bush for President" be left out of the recent senate
hearings on whether or not to attack Iraq?
"The hearings were a sham," he said. "The national security of the United
States has been hijacked by a handful of neo-conservatives who are using their
position of authority to pursue their own ideologically-driven political ambitions.
The day we send our soldiers off to die for narrow political reasons is the day
we fail as an American democracy."
Any chance to stop the war?
"The Bush administration is dead serious about this," Ritter said. "I'm hoping
the media and the American people will wake up to this direct assault on the Constitution
and on our moral standards as a nation."
Sorry Col. Warden - morals matter. I miss Ike. And Harry too.
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist.
His column runs on Tuesdays. Call him at 508-775-1200, ext. 719, or e-mail him
Copyright © 2002 Cape Cod Times