Interview: Author of War On Iraq - William Rivers Pitt
William Rivers Pitt and Scott Ritter have written the book War on Iraq to inform people on critical issues regarding whether or not the US should take up arms again against Saddam Hussein.
With President Bush pressing Congress for a resolution
to allow use of force against Iraq right now,
understanding the issues involved is more critical
than ever. William Rivers Pitt and Scott Ritter have
written the book War on Iraq to inform people on
critical issues regarding whether or not the US should
take up arms again against Saddam Hussein. I recently
discussed this with War on Iraq author William
AFS: Please introduce yourself.
Pitt: William Rivers Pitt, from Boston, MA. I'm a high
school teacher and writer.
AFS: One doesn't usually find writers who get
mentioned in Associated Press national wire news
stories teaching in secondary schools. Please share
what it means to you to be a public school teacher.
Pitt: First off, I teach at a small private school. I
came to teaching because, aside from writing, teaching
has always been what I have wanted to do. I got the
job three years ago, before any of my writing was
getting noticed by anyone. The summers off provided
the time I needed to concentrate on politics, but
being a teacher has been an extraordinary experience.
I teach English Literature, Writing, Grammar and
Journalism - a good mix.
AFS: You were discovered as a result of the "buzz"
created by essays you write for several Internet
sites. Today, when one thinks of ways for a writer to
embark on their chosen profession, writing essays
would not jump to the top of very many people's Top 10
lists of ways to become big-time writers. Why essays,
and how did they get you discoved?
Pitt: I think the work I have been doing has gotten
noticed because it has been riding this internet wave
- people email stuff to other people, email
listservers are everywhere, and internet forums are
populated by thousands of people.
I write essays because that is usually all I have time
for. I can remain topical and keep my comments current
AFS: It is very difficult for a new writer to get a
first book deal. Yet you, Mr. Pitt, seem to find
yourself in the enviable position of getting signed by
two publishers for what is, in essence, two first book
deals. How in the world did that happen?
Pitt: Insanity. I have no idea. Both publishers
reached out to me. The first - Pluto Press out of
London - did so on the advice of someone who works
with Greg Palast, whose book "The Best Democracy Money
Can Buy" is published by Pluto. The second publisher -
Context Books in NYC - found me after the essay I
wrote in late July about Scott Ritter, "The Coming
October War in Iraq." Basically, I'm the luckiest
person I know.
AFS: You wrote War on Iraq with Scott Ritter, the
former UN weapons inspector. Scott Ritter has emerged
as the leading American critic of a US invasion of
Iraq. The President says Saddam Hussein is going to
build nukes and biological weapons and we have to get
him now before he gets us. Mr. Ritter states there is
no risk from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. What's
going on here, Mr. Pitt?
Pitt: November 5, 2002: The midterm elections. In
July, the GOP was in terrible trouble with these
midterms - Enron, Halliburton, Harken and the rest of
the economic mess foreshadowed a cataclysmic wipeout
at the polls for the Republicans. If the GOP loses the
House and a Democratic margin is widened in the
Senate, the next two years for Bush will be terribly
Also, there are a number of neo-conservative
super-hawks in the Bush administration - Cheney,
Rumsfeld, Perle and Wolfowitz to name a few - who very
much want to make war not only on Iraq, but Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and a good deal of the Middle
East. This is why Bush's recent resolution for war on
Iraq sent to Congress does not only say "Iraq," but
"the region." They want it all, and they're gunning
for it hard.
As for Ritter's comments, they are well-articulated by
him in my book. He believes the threat posed by Iraq
has been horribly and cynically overblown, for all the
reasons stated above and more.
AFS: Please tell us Scott Ritter's background.
Pitt:Mr. Ritter is a Marine Corps officer who served
in the Gulf War. Prior to that war, he was a weapons
inspector for America in the former Soviet Union
helping to enforce a missile treaty signed by Reagan
and Gorbachev. After the Gulf War, he was assigned by
the UN to the weapons inspection teams in Iraq
(UNSCOM), where he spent seven years tearing Iraq's
WMD programs to pieces.
AFS: Why should we trust what Mr. Ritter says about
the situation in Iraq?
Pitt: Because he was there, and saw it all. None of
the talking heads or politicians who crow for war on
your television have ever set foot in Iraq, and almost
none of them have worn the uniform of a Marine Corps
officer. Ritter is a soldier who took an oath to
defend his country, and was over in Iraq destroying
this stuff. In military parlance, he has "seen the
elephant." He is a Republican who voted for Bush in
2000, to top it off. I trust him on matters of WMD
implicitly, because he has all the data at hand, and
because I know of no other 'expert' out in the media
realm who has anything even remotely equalling his
AFS: In preparing your book, you probably had more
access to Mr. Ritter than another other journalist.
It's important to understand more about him as a
person than one can learn in the sound bytes we get
from the media. What do you think is important to know
about Scott Ritter that has escaped coverage that you
believe is critical to understanding him.
Pitt: He's damned proud of being a Marine, he loves
his country with a pure devotion, and he is deeply
afraid of what will happen if we instigate this war
without the international community, and without proof
that Iraq posesses these weapons. His documentary
film, 'On Shifting Sands,' demonstrates his anguish
over the plight of Iraqi civilians. Beyond that, I
don't know too much more about the man. He loves his
AFS: When those protesters interrupted Sec. Rumsfeld
in his testimony to Congress, the protesters yelled
about inspections and oil. We've heard a whole lot
about inspections lately. We haven't heard much about
oil. What part does oil play in the Iraq equation?
Pitt: Everything circulates around the oil. On this
point, Ritter and I disagree. Ritter dismisses oil as
a motivation, and he has good evidence to back this
up: We get 60% of Iraq's oil production right now. The
American warships patrolling the Gulf to enforce the
sanctions against Iraq are fueled and lubed by Iraqi
oil. The Iraqi oil minister has stated that if the
sanctions are lifted, Iraq will make sure American
strategic oil needs are met.
However, we're talking about the Bush administration
and the oil barons who stand behind it. A good deal
isn't enough; they want the whole pie, which is why
Perle and Rumsfeld have cast their eyes towards Iran
and Saudi Arabia. Plus, you have to factor in the
political angle. I think oil plays the pivotal role
AFS: So we haven't caught Bin Laden. Bin Laden and Al
Queda are the ones who were behind the events of 9/11.
How will an invasion of Iraq get us closer to bringing
Bin Laden and
Al Queda to justice?
Pitt: It won't. It *will* create the Islam vs. The
West conflict that Osama bin Laden wanted when he
attacked us. It *will* guarantee more terrorism here
in America. It will not help the War on Terrorism one
iota, which, frankly, casts doubt in my mind whether
the War on Terror is a real policy to protect America.
Saddam Hussein is a secular dictator who has viciously
repressed Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq for 30 years.
He would no more give WMD capability to al Qaeda than
he would walk into a chainsaw. If Hussein gave WMD to
bin Laden, bin Laden would use those weapons on
So, no. There is nothing about this that helps the War
on Terror...unless the War on Terror is a domestic
political ploy and an international hegemony grab.
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