Huntingdon College: program in Political Science, Public Affairs & International Studies
Notes on International Terrorism and Response.
U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation
Reprinted from e-mail for the benefit of students.
Compiled by Jeremy Lewis_Mail IconComments.  Posted on 4 Mar  2003.
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This is really a powerful statement coming from the (former) Political
Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens....

February 27, 2003
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

reported by the New York Times

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

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