Global Policy Forum

Waging Peace


By Shea Howell

Michigan Citizen
October 3, 2007

Waging Peace: the Art of War for the Anti-War Movement is a new book by Scott Ritter who served as the United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998.

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ritter, a former Marine and a Republican who voted for George Bush in 2000, publicly argued that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass destruction. He has been a consistent critic of the administration, opposed the invasion of Iraq, and has recently been warning about the buildup toward war with Iran. In an interview with Democracy Now last October he said, "The path that the United States is currently embarked on regarding Iran is a path that will inevitably lead to war. Such a course of action will make even the historical mistake we made in Iraq pale by comparison."

In Waging Peace Ritter brings his military training and critical skills to bear on the peace movement. His central challenge to the movement is clear. He says: "The anti-war movement has come face to face with the reality that in the ongoing war of ideologies that is being waged in America today, their cause is not just losing, but is in fact on the verge of complete collapse. Many in the anti-war movement would take exception to such a characterization of the situation, given the fact that there seems to be a growing change in the mood among Americans against the ongoing war in Iraq. But one only has to scratch at the surface of this public discontent to realize how shallow and superficial it is. Americans are not against the war in Iraq because it is wrong; they are against it because we are losing."

Ritter offers this critique out of both a deep respect and concern for the anti-war movement. While he attributes much of its lack of impact to poor organization, the absence of a single clear message, and the confusion of tactics, strategies and objectives, he raises two fundamental issues that are of critical importance in waging peace.

First, he argues that the anti-war movement does not appreciate the power and tenacity of the pro-war forces currently running the country. Quoting Dwight Eisenhower, Ritter talks about the military-industrial-Congressional complex. He notes that Eisenhower was forced to drop Congress from his oft-quoted phrase, but the reality is that Congress is essentially controlled by profiteers who seek to promote war as a way of life.

Second, the anti-war movement has failed to project an alternative vision of a peaceful America. It has failed to answer the fundamental question of what we believe in. Ritter suggests we need to be more than an anti-war movement. We should be a pro-Constitution movement. For all its imperfections, the Constitution, the rule of law, the protection of basic human rights, and the defense of freedom and liberty are the values that have long defined America at its best.

Ritter understands that such a patriotic defense of American values is troublesome to many in the anti-war movement. But, because we have not provided a clear set of alternative values, our nation has been symbolized to the rest of the world by the B-2 bomber, M-1 tank and M-16 rifle. As Bush now offers perpetual war, as he increasingly invokes the specter of war against Iran, and as Congress proves incapable of stopping this war, Ritter offers an important challenge. He is asking us to love America enough to change it. As James Boggs often said, "I hate this country for what it has done and what it is doing. But I love it for what it can become."

More Information on NGOs
More Information on the Future of the Global Peace Movement
More Information on Opposition to the War and Occupation in Iraq
More Information on Public Opinion: Decreasing Support for War and Occupation
More Information on Iraq
More Information on Empire?


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