Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq.
Question: I understand you have some concerns regarding the implementation of the Wye accord?
Ritter: Yes, indeed. The accord is to be monitored by the CIA, but the real arbiter will be the State Department, and this is a cause for great worry. The entire effort has been politicized – this is the Clinton administration’s own Camp David, and they really cannot afford to let it fail. Therefore they cannot be counted upon to be honest brokers.
Question: In what way do you mean dishonest?
Ritter: Both because the administration wants the accord to work and because they are trying to court the moderate Arab countries, they are more than likely to give the Palestinians slack. For example, if they receive information from the CIA saying the Palestinians are not complying with the agreement, they will simply overlook it. The temptation to gloss over things will be too strong to ignore, because to hold the Palestinians strictly accountable would endanger the whole process.
Question: What has lead you to these conclusions?
Ritter: During my time with UNSCOM, it became very clear to me that Iraq was not being held accountable, and this is an unsettling precedent. The US makes decisions based on politics, not on honesty, and this leads to compromises and concessions. I had a bad experience in Iraq which taught me the US can say one thing, and do another. In addition, I have noted a cooling towards Israel on the part of the State Department, coupled with an unrealistic expectation that Arafat can deliver. It is very important for the US that Arafat not be undermined, and if this means you have to turn a blind eye to an effective crackdown on Hamas, so be it.
Question: Israel has its own ways of monitoring what is going on, and Netanyahu is not one to allow himself to be bamboozled…
Ritter: True, but the Israelis will be faced with so much pressure from the US and the international community that it will be near impossible to say “Wait, the US not being a good monitor.”