Ritter: What Katie Couric Should Be Asking About Iraq

At Truthdig former UN chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter writes:

There is no reason to believe that the compliant war facilitators who comprise the “anti-war” Democratic majority in Congress will do anything other than give the president what he is asking for.  No one seems to want to debate, in any meaningful fashion, what is really going on in Iraq.

Why would they?  The Democrats, like their Republican counterparts, have invested too much political capital into fictionalizing the problem with slogans like “support the troops,” “we’re fighting the enemy there so we don’t have to fight them here,” and my all-time favorite, “leaving Iraq would hand victory to al-Qaida.”

In my opinion he overstates the case. I believe many among the Democrats, particularly among the Out of Iraq Caucus, truly do want to bring the war to a close as speedily as can be done without adding to the disaster. But it can hardly be doubted at this point that the leadership would prefer not to take the political risks of actually dealing with the issue now, preferring to wait until they have clearer margins of power in 2009.

Ritter goes on:

Nearly 4 1/2 years after President Bush’s ill-fated (and illegal) decision to invade and occupy Iraq, few people in a position to influence policy formulation and implementation in America have actually grasped the horrible truth about what has transpired, and what is transpiring, in Mesopotamia today. As the United States places the finishing touches on Fortress America, the new half-billion-dollar Embassy complex in the heart of the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, and more troops pour into mega-bases throughout Iraq, the reality (and futility) of permanent occupation has yet to sink in. What could be going through the minds of those members of Congress who keep signing blank checks for the president?  Is there no oversight of how and why this money is spent? How can someone fund permanent infrastructure one day, then speak of the need to get out of Iraq the next?

Good point, that.

He then suggests three questions the media should be asking about Iraq instead of the idiotic ones that “journalists” like Katie Couric are asking:

The real big three [questions] she should be addressing are “Why do Americans keep dying?” “Who is killing them?” and “Why?” Of course, answering these questions would undermine the very fantasy world Couric is being sent to cover, one where Americans are doing good deeds in the name of peace and justice for downtrodden Iraqis.

Under no illusions that any of the Very Serious talking heads might be asking those questions any time soon, he answers them himself:

If Couric and her ilk won’t answer these questions, I will.  “Why do Americans keep dying?” Simple:  Because we are in Iraq.  We don’t belong there.  Our presence is derived from our own violation of law, not someone else’s, and as such any effort to sustain our presence is tainted by this same foundation of illegitimacy. In short, Americans will keep dying in Iraq as long as we remain in Iraq…

“Who is killing them?” Another easy answer:  Iraqis.  We are occupying their homeland.  We are violating their sovereignty.  We are butchering, abusing and torturing their citizens.  Our continued presence is an affront to the socioeconomic-political fabric that is (or was) Iraqi society.  If someone occupied my hometown in the same manner Americans occupy Iraq, I’d be killing them any way I could.  And I would be called a hero by my own people, not a terrorist.  The Bush administration, in an effort to deflect public attention away from this reality, has created the fiction of a massive al-Qaida presence in Iraq, working in parallel with a similarly large Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command presence, which apparently is responsible for the majority of anti-American violence and dead U.S. troops….

Now we come to the third and perhaps most difficult question: “Why?”

I’ll let you go and read the rest of the piece yourself for that answer – I’ve excerpted enough. He says it comes down to Americans not truly caring. But personally I think it isn’t a matter of not caring, only that people haven’t been informed about the truth. The fact that the people here who have become informed care so much tells me otherwise. But I do think his final point is a good one, and well worth some thought:

In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the “Petraeus Report” will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq.


  1. Orange.

  2. Ritter’s suggested questions to ask about Iraq and his assessment of how “Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today” reminds me of the scene from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – the original version that went on BBC radio – where a whale suddenly comes into existence some miles above the surface of a planet.

    Ah! What’s happening? Er, excuse me, who am I? Hello? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Calm down, get a grip now. Oh, this is an interesting sensation … what is it? It’s a sort of yawning tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach. So … a yawning tingling sensation in my stomach. Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Head, that sounds good, yeah, head, good solid ring to it … and the whistling roaring sound, that can be wind … is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for, because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey, what’s this thing, this … let’s call it a tail … yeah, tail, hey I can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow. Wow. Hey. Doesn’t seem to achieve much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet? No. Oh. Hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation … or is it the wind? Hey, there really is a lot of that now isn’t there? And wow, what’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast … so big and flat and wide it needs a big wide sounding word … like round … round … ground! That’s it, ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?

    And then the whale hits the ground and splatters into chunks of whale meat. The U.S. is the whale and its falling fast towards the earth. We’re still asking the wrong questions and naming things…

    We basically still are thrashing our tail about and not achieving anything, but sooner rather than later the ground will catch up with us.

    Bush’s neo-Gilded Age economy is already popping rivets and, if anything, the pain our economy causes now will be worse when America finally splatters on the ground called Iraq.

    Sorry about the long Douglas Adams quote.

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