Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh spoke at the New York Society for Ethical Culture this past October about Ritter’s new book, which reports his certainty that the movement to attack Iran is alive and well in Washington and Tel Aviv.
I’d intended to attend the event, but, if memory serves, fell asleep instead. Good then the good folks at Sound Posse have archived the conversation. Easy and worthwhile listening. Superior to anything you’ve seen on the tube since the mideast war began in 2003.
Hersh first broke the story of the Rumsfowitzian plans for attacking Iran in early 2005, then followed up across more than a year with periodic grumblings of admirals and generals, all of which helped to forestall the project. In October he seems skeptical that the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Real men want to go to IranĂ˘â‚¬Âť school has survived the bad press in Iraq. Then again, he opens the evening by warning that if you think baby Bush has been a bad boy so far, wait Ă˘â‚¬Ëśtil you see him as a true lame duck (post the now past mid-term elections).
Ritter (the former UN weapons inspector) is one of the few critics stateside who dare complain about the Likud lobbyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s influence on Bush’s foreign policy. Perhaps this is why the local Barnes & Noble does not stock his books, and why The New York Times stopped reviewing them after Endgame in 1999. (Here, however, is a better voice.) In October Ritter again head-butts the Likudists but also blasts other blameworthy Beltway powers (Bush-Cheney itself, Rice, silently suffering Pentagon brass…).
During the Q&A someone asks how Iran, if attacked, would react:
RITTER: The Iranians will use the weapon that is the most effective weapon … the Iranians realize that they have to inflict pain upfront. The pain is not going to be inflicted militarily, because we’re not going to commit numbers of ground forces on the ground that can cause that pain. The pain will come economically.
Our oil-based economy is operating on the margins, as we speak. We only have 1.0% to 1.5% excess production capacity. If you take the Iranian oil off the market, which is the first thing the Iranians will do, we automatically drop to around minus-4%, which means there ain’t enough oil out there to support the globe’s thirst for oil, especially America’s thirst for oil. … You think for a second the Chinese and the Indians, the world’s two largest developing economies, are going to say, “Hey, Uncle Sam, we’ll put everything on hold, so we can divert oil resources, so you can feed your oil addiction, because you attacked Iran”?
And it’s not just Iranian oil that will go off the market. Why do you think we sent minesweepers up there? We’ve got to keep the Straits of Hormuz open. The Iranians will shut it down that quick. They’ll also shut down oil production in the western oil fields of Saudi Arabia. They’ll shut down Kuwaiti oil production. They’ll shut down oil production in the United Arab Emirates. They’ll shut down whatever remaining oil production there is in Iraq. They’ll launch a massive attack using their Shia proxies in Iraq against American forces. That will cause bloodshed.
The bottom line is, within two days of our decision to initiate an attack on Iran, every single one of you is going to be feeling the consequences of that in your pocketbook. And it’s only going to get worse. This is not something that only I recognize. Ask Dick Lugar what information he’s getting from big business, who are saying, “We can’t afford to go to war with Iran.”
HERSH: Final question Ă˘â‚¬â€ť given all this, are we going to do it?
RITTER: Yes, we’re going to do it.
Also during the Q&A the prospect of the Dems re-taking Congress is raised. Ritter responds that the attack on Iran will go ahead in any case. My own guess, as a mere reader of dispatches, is that the publicity wars have shifted a bit such that Israel, alone, is now the likely first-striker. But perhaps I’m naive.