For Gulf War veteran and former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the question was always the same. Following his resignation from the United Nations Special Commission in 1998, Ritter spearheaded a war on the war on terror, organized around a single refrain. At hearings in the House and Senate, in the European, Danish, and Italian Parliament, and in the Iraqi National Assembly, he was unswerving: “Where are the weapons, Mr. Bush?” In articles, interviews, and op-eds: “Where are the weapons, Mr. Bush?” On CNN, MSNBC, and Fox: “Where, Mr. Bush?”
Frontier Justice represents the culmination of Ritter’s ill-fated campaign against “Sheriff Bush” and his “west Texas lynch mob.” In this detailed exposé, he deconstructs the president’s “Big Lie”: that “Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in defiance of international law, and . . . refused to abide by its obligations to be disarmed.”
“Rancher Bush,” Ritter writes, “was wrong.”
His evidence includes a history of American misconduct during more than a decade of weapons inspections in Iraq and a dissection of documents and speeches that advanced the case for war, including Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003, presentation to the UN Security Council and Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address.
Ritter also traces the gospel of military pre-emption to a 1997 Statement of Foreign Policy Principles signed by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz—a “moralizing lynch-mob intent on re-asserting . . . Reaganite moral clarity to a new world order solely defined by the United States.”
Though Ritter’s “I know you are, but what am I?” rejoinders to critics seem almost childishly defensive, and though some of his analogies—between Bush and Hitler, between 9/11 and the Reichstag fires preceding World War II—are overblown, his credentials and expertise are nevertheless impressive, and his argument is indispensible to any thorough understanding of the war with Iraq.