Pima County Democrats were taken to school Sunday by a lifelong-conservative-Republican- turned-anti-war activist.
Scott Ritter, the buff and bespectacled former Marine and United Nations weapons inspector, made a name for himself on cable news during the run-up to the war in Iraq. He argued that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
Ritter was at the University Park Marriott hotel Sunday to speak to about 60 Pima County Democrats and to try to teach them a thing or two.
Lesson one: The term should be "war prevention," not "anti-war." It sounds better, Ritter said.
Lesson two: Act like a military operation - learn the battlefield, prepare it and anticipate the other side's moves before acting.
"We need to start waging peace with the same tenacity with which we wage war," Ritter said.
Too often the peace movement isn't ready for obvious attacks and gets defined by its own fringe political tendencies.
It's a conclusion shared by former congressional candidate, Air Force veteran and war critic Jeff Latas.
"I tend to agree with him that certain radical behavior does marginalize us," he said.
Ritter also warned that preventing war with Iran should be liberals' top priority because that war would be far more dangerous than the war in Iraq.
"As distasteful as it sounds, we have to put Iraq on the back burner for now," Ritter said.
He put the odds of war with Iran at 80 percent to 100 percent in the next six months.
The Bush administration is heating up the rhetoric against Iran and making false claims that the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons, Ritter said.
"The American public is being imprinted to accept at face value" that Iran poses a threat.
The odds of war with Iran are probably closer to 20 percent, retired Air Force general and CNN military analyst Donald Sheppard said.
America could easily get sucked into a somewhat likely military conflict between Iran and Israel, said Sheppard, who lives in Tucson.
The threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons is real and scares the Israelis, Sheppard said.
He said politics will prevent the U.S. from striking first.
"Public opinion wants us out of the war we are in and doesn't want to start another one," Sheppard said. "The American people are not going to support another war of choice in that part of the world."
© 2007 The Tuscon Citizen