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403U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Mar 3, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/27/international/27WEB-TNAT.html>

      U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation

      The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's
      letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L.
      Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has served
      in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca
      to Yerevan.

      Dear Mr. Secretary:

      I am writing you to submit my resignation from the
      Foreign Service of the United States and from my
      position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens,
      effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart. The
      baggage of my upbringing included a felt obligation to
      give something back to my country. Service as a U.S.
      diplomat was a dream job. I was paid to understand
      foreign languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats,
      politicians, scholars and journalists, and to persuade
      them that U.S. interests and theirs fundamentally
      coincided. My faith in my country and its values was the
      most powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.

      It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State
      Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical
      about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that
      sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it
      is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding
      human nature. But until this Administration it had been
      possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my
      president I was also upholding the interests of the
      American people and the world. I believe it no longer.

      The policies we are now asked to advance are
      incompatible not only with American values but also with
      American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq
      is driving us to squander the international legitimacy
      that has been America's most potent weapon of both
      offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We
      have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective
      web of international relationships the world has ever
      known. Our current course will bring instability and
      danger, not security.

      The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics
      and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it
      is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we
      have not seen such systematic distortion of
      intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American
      opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11
      tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us
      a vast international coalition to cooperate for the
      first time in a systematic way against the threat of
      terrorism. But rather than take credit for those
      successes and build on them, this Administration has
      chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool,
      enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as
      its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror
      and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking
      the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The
      result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast
      misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military
      and to weaken the safeguards that protect American
      citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11
      did not do as much damage to the fabric of American
      society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the
      Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish,
      superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction
      in the name of a doomed status quo?

      We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade
      more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary. We
      have over the past two years done too much to assert to
      our world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S.
      interests override the cherished values of our partners.
      Even where our aims were not in question, our
      consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is
      little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan
      to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and
      interests. Have we indeed become blind, as Russia is
      blind in Chechnya, as Israel is blind in the Occupied
      Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming
      military power is not the answer to terrorism? After the
      shambles of post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny
      and Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner who forms
      ranks with Micronesia to follow where we lead.

      We have a coalition still, a good one. The loyalty of
      many of our friends is impressive, a tribute to American
      moral capital built up over a century. But our closest
      allies are persuaded less that war is justified than
      that it would be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift
      into complete solipsism. Loyalty should be reciprocal.
      Why does our President condone the swaggering and
      contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this
      Administration is fostering, including among its most
      senior officials. Has 'oderint dum metuant' really
      become our motto?

      I urge you to listen to America's friends around the
      world. Even here in Greece, purported hotbed of European
      anti-Americanism, we have more and closer friends than
      the American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even
      when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know
      that the world is a difficult and dangerous place, and
      they want a strong international system, with the U.S.
      and EU in close partnership. When our friends are afraid
      of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now
      they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that
      the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty,
      security, and justice for the planet?

      Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your
      character and ability. You have preserved more
      international credibility for us than our policy
      deserves, and salvaged something positive from the
      excesses of an ideological and self-serving
      Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes
      too far. We are straining beyond its limits an
      international system we built with such toil and
      treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and
      shared values that sets limits on our foes far more
      effectively than it ever constrained America's ability
      to defend its interests.

      I am resigning because I have tried and failed to
      reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the
      current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our
      democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and
      hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside
      to shaping policies that better serve the security and
      prosperity of the American people and the world we
      share.


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