FERNDALE- Scott Ritter, one of the former United Nations inspectors who didn't find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, denounced the Bush administration for going to war with WMDs as the primary rationale in March 2003.
Now he fears the United States is on the brink of war with Iran. Ritter points to a military buildup in the region, the so-called threats to the U.S. Navy from Iranian speed boats last week and a U.S. Senate resolution that labels elements of Iran as a terrorist organization.
"It's like filling up a house with gasoline and flicking matches at the door," Ritter said. "Sooner or later it will connect."
Ritter spoke to the Daily Tribune via telephone Friday while on the road in Colorado. He and media critic Jeff Cohen were driving to meet with school and church groups in Boulder and Denver this weekend for U.S. Tour of Duty, a series of public forums aimed at starting a national dialogue about global engagement.
The tour will bring Ritter and Cohen, a former Detroit resident who refers to mainstream media as the "weapons of mass distraction," to First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, 22331 Woodward Ave., from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.
The local tour stop is sponsored by the Huntington Woods Peace, Citizenship and Education Project. Spokeswoman Linda Ashley said the church can hold 700 people and she urges area residents to attend.
"We think Iran and U.S. foreign policy is a real important topic," Ashley said. "This is a unique forum that gives our community the chance to participate in a national discussion."
Ritter said he will present factual data that the country is heading toward another military conflict in the Middle East.
"I draw heavily on the words of the Bush administration and people can draw their own conclusion," he said.
To him, President George W. Bush has been waging a war of words with Iran for years. He points to the president saying "all options are on the table" regarding Iran and its alleged nuclear program in 2005 and then calling Iran "a threat to world peace" last week.
"The president isn't talking about sending Condoleezza Rice to Iran as an option," Ritter said. "We're not on the path of peaceful resolution through diplomacy."
His conclusion: "What's really going on is a road map for global domination. The war in Iraq initiated a long-term strategy neo conservatives have been formulating to divide the world into spheres of influence and dominate them economically, militarily and diplomatically."
Wouldn't some savvy, headline hungry reporter be following the story if that were the case? Cohen says not if they work for corporate media.
A former on-air commentator and senior producer at MSNBC, Cohen was assigned to Phil Donohue's show before it was canceled in February 2003. He says he obtained a memo criticizing Donohue for seeming to delight in presenting guests who were anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives.
"It's because we practiced journalism and had opposing views that were terminated," Cohen said.
After the show's cancellation, Cohen said MSNBC issued ordered that every anti-war guest needed to be countered by two pro-war guests.
"That was their quota system to shift the debate for pro-invasion forces," according to Cohen, who has a book out called "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media."
Where does he get his news? Cohen said his home page opens to www.commondreams.org, which bills itself as a news center for the "progressive community."
"The good news in the realm of media is that amazing things are happening with independent journalists," Cohen said. "They are filling a huge vacuum left by corporate media that practice jingoism when it comes to war and tabloidism in general."
Cohen and Ritter scoffed at the USA Today headline in Friday's edition proclaiming "75 percent of Baghdad secure."
The article says data given by the military to the newspaper provides a clear snapshot of how security has improved in Baghdad since 30,000 additional American troops arrived in Iraq last year.
"The average citizen will say things are working, but the small print shows it's a smoke and mirrors game," Cohen said. "It's really quieter in Baghdad because of ethnic cleansing, concrete walls, checkpoints and al-Sadr declared a cease fire. We haven't defeated them or got them on our side. USA Today is a misrepresentation of reality.
© 2007 The Daily Tribune