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Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2003 / 27 Shevat, 5763

Julia Gorin

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Ritter: On the anti-war path | It's funny how soliciting sex from an underage girl can be the difference between Iraq having nuclear capability and not having nuclear capability.

Just ask former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. In 1997, before Ritter was arrested for soliciting sex from a police officer posing as a teenager, Saddam Hussein indeed had been furtively building a nuclear arsenal, according to Ritter. But in 2002, the year after Ritter had acquired a dirty little secret of his own, Hussein suddenly became beyond suspicion.

Ritter has said that the timing "stinks," and lamented that "it's a shame that somebody would bring up this old matter, this dismissed matter, and seek to silence me at this time."

But this didn't surface because he is an opposing voice. He is an opposing force because he knew this might surface. And the timing couldn't have been better. The day his 2001 arrest hit the national press last week Ritter was supposed to be on a plane to Baghdad to offer alternatives to military action.

Barring the possibility that Ritter was blackmailed by the Iraqis into resurfacing into public life and speaking out against a war, the reasoning behind his anti-war stance may have been a combination of three frequent motivators which often drive men to the wrong positions they take in life: fear, immorality, and moral confusion.

If Ritter were to confirm that a clandestine Iraqi weapons buildup was underway, thereby implicitly recommending war, he would be at the mercy of the Left's vengeance, which would work more swiftly and loudly to dig up dirt on him than the other side might. Allowing for the possibility that it would get dug up anyway, Ritter knew that an anti-war stance would bring less furor than a pro-war stance. He wagered well: A week later, there is still barely a peep from the media big wigs.

So on the one hand, Ritter feared exposure of his immoral character. But he also suffered a bout of confusion, wherein he subconsciously asked himself, Who am I to tell a man he can't seek world domination, when I sought sex with a minor?

Examples of such mental machinations are rampant. In Illinois, recent Republican ex-governor George Ryan, whose administration was rife with corruption (with criminal trials currently pending), this month commuted the sentences of all the state's death row inmates, in effect making victims' families pay for his sins. The greater example in recent memory, however, would be the tail end of the Clinton presidency, which during Monicagate found defenders on the Right--mostly men whose own guilty hearts didn't want to condemn a cheating man for fear that some day fingers could just as well point at them.

Of course, the case study for political overcompensating is Bill Clinton himself, who bombed Yugoslavia, which was weeding out terrorists whom we now have to weed out, in order to change the headlines from Lewinsky to something else. The semantics games that were employed at the time utilized words like "genocide," "Serbian butcher" and "preventing a wider conflict"--to no dissent. But now that the focus is on Iraq--which has committed genocide and which will indeed lead to wider conflict if left unchecked and which is run by a butcher--"dissenters" like Scott Ritter have found their voices again.

For personal reasons, Ritter decided he couldn't take the moral high ground on Iraq, and he was ready to sacrifice world security for his sins.

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JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a journalist and comedienne residing in Manhattan. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2003, Julia Gorin