By Scott Ritter
Mar 17, 2008
Editor’s note: Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Scott Ritter reconstructs from his memories and notes one of the seminal events in the march to war.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I find myself thinking back on how we got ourselves into this predicament. Like many who played a direct role in the issues surrounding Iraq in the years leading up to the decision to invade, I have wrestled with the demons of history, wondering about the specific impact my actions (or inaction) may have had on the course of human affairs. I’ve also wondered whether or not I have been witness to any events that, if more fully reported, might enable others to have a better understanding of the events that shape our world today, for better or for worse. As I examine where we are today and contemplate our future and those who are positioning themselves to play a role in Iraq, it seems to me that there is at least one such incident, a dinner party I attended at the home of Ahmed Chalabi in June 1998 that is worthy of a more public illumination.
During my time as a weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), I frequently traveled to Washington, D.C., for liaison purposes. The usual customers, so to speak, included the State Department, the CIA and the Department of Defense. All such meetings were conducted in accordance with instructions I had received from the executive chairman of UNSCOM (from 1991 until July 1997 this post was held by a Swede named Rolf Ekéus and after July by an Australian, Richard Butler) and as such were considered “official business.”