There will be a flood of "commemorations" tomorrow, the eve of the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, and we will be on the road (and will miss Brussels' "Literary Wake").
So this would have been my March 19 entry, marking the fifth anniversary of the resignation of American diplomat Mary Ann Wright. Her resignation letter is on the web in its entirety on "Government Executive.com," but here are key excerpts:
I strongly believe the probable response of many Arabs of the region and Moslems of the world if the US enters Iraq without UNSC agreement will result in actions extraordinarily dangerous to America and Americans. Military action now without UNSC agreement is much more dangerous for America and the world than allowing the UN weapons inspections to proceed and subsequently taking UNSC authorized action if warranted.
I strongly disagree with the use of a "preemptive attack" against Iraq and believe that this preemptive attack policy will be used against us and provide justification for individuals and groups to "preemptively attack" America and American citizens.
We should give the weapons inspectors time to do their job. We should not give extremist Moslems/Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give moderate Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic "holy soil" of Saudi Arabia will be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems as long as the US military remains and a strong reason, in their opinion, for actions against the US government and American citizens.
Reading this five years on, I think you might agree that Ann Wright knew her stuff: after all, she had served in Sierra Leone (where she was decorated for heroism), Micronesia, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, Panama, and Nicaragua. Not exactly a list of soft assignments.
I have written about the other two Foreign Service Officers who resigned over the US invasion of Iraq, Brady Kiesling and John Brown. Ann (as she is known) Wright's case is different, in that she resigned on the very eve of the invasion, while serving as the Deputy Chief of Mission (no. 2 person after the ambassador) at the US Embassy in Mongolia. Ann Wright was also a Colonel in the US Army Reserve, and had spent a combined total of almost thirty years in active duty and the reserves. When she wrote her letter, she was leaving a lot.
Ann Wright has become well known in activist circles, and has penned a book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq" with co-author Susan Dixon. Folksy, articulate, and extremely well-informed, Ann Wright can be seen discussing the book here on "Fora.tv" with fellow dissenter Daniel Ellsberg (of "Pentagon Papers" fame during the Vietnam War), who has written the foreword to her book. The Ellsberg/Wright duo speak of those American (and British) civil servants and soldiers who risked their careers (and risked imprisonment) to challenge their government's actions in bringing the US and UK to war.
Ann Wright is obviously an authoritative source when it comes to dissenting government insiders. For those who wish to register their principled opposition but yet not go as far as she, Brown, and Kiesling did, the State Department does have the "Dissent Channel," one of the Secretary's "Open Forum" means of presenting alternate policy views. It was instituted in the wake of Foreign Service resignations over the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Now that the US is again mired in a seemingly interminable foreign war, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) is trying to get the State Department to breathe life into these internal dissent mechanisms.