From Three Decades as a Colonel and Diplomat to Six Years as a Peace Activist
Friday 20 March 2009
by: Ann Wright, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Ann Wright speaks at an international meeting calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. The former US Army colonel and career diplomat resigned in opposition to the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration six years ago. (Photo: Getty Images)
It was six years ago today that I resigned from the Bush administration and the US diplomatic corps in opposition to the war on Iraq. I remember the day so well. I woke up about 2 in the morning.
Like so many mornings in the past months, I could not sleep through the night. I was very worried and upset hearing the comments out of Washington, that we, the US government, were being forced into taking military action against Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi government.
I, like so many US diplomats and US citizens, was wondering, why must the United States attack Iraq right now? Should we not wait and hear the results of the United Nations weapons inspectors on whether there was a weapons of mass destruction program in Iraq? How could we take military action without the agreement of the member states of the United Nations Security Council?
When President Bush launched “shock and awe” on Baghdad on the morning of March 19 (Mongolia time) and March 18 in the US, I decided I was not going to continue working in the Department of State.
Upon arriving at the Embassy, I asked our communications officer to send my letter of resignation from the United States government to my boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell. I expected to join quickly the two other federal employees who had resigned (both were also US diplomats.)
Several minutes later, the communications officer came back to my office and said “Ms. Wright, I read your telegram to the secretary of state and I wish that you would reconsider your resignation. I don’t agree either with the Bush administration’s decision to attack Iraq, but I’m not going to resign. I haven’t yet sent your telegram to Washington and wish you would not resign!”
I told the communications officer that I appreciated very much what she felt, but I needed her to send my resignation telegram. She went back to her office visibly disturbed. Fifteen minutes later, I called her and asked: “Have you sent my telegram?” She answered, “No, I was hoping you would reconsider.”
I told her of my appreciation of her concerns about my resignation, and repeated my request/order that she send the resignation telegram to Washington. A few minutes later, she brought me my copy of the telegram that she sent to Washington announcing my resignation from the federal government.
As the telegram went to Washington, I forwarded emails to friends in US diplomatic missions around the world, explaining why I felt I must resign in opposition to the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. Within hours, I received over 400 emails in support and not one email in opposition to my decision.
One week later, I left Mongolia. It took that long for packing materials to be brought from China into Mongolia, as there were no household packing/moving companies in Mongolia.
Now, six years later, many have asked whether I have had any regrets about resignation from the US government.
I must say that, honestly, my only regret has been that so many people who felt the same way that I did, did not resign too. For me, my resignation freed me to speak freely about my concerns over the Bush administration’s war on Iraq, the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and the unnecessary curtailment of civil liberties under the Patriot Act.
I cannot imagine working the past six years in the Bush administration, and I fully intend to hold the Bush administration accountable for what it has done.
Since that fateful day, March 19, 2003, I have worked for peace in Iraq and have traveled for peace in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran and Gaza.
After six years of no longer working for the United States government, I have no regrets. I have met and become a part of a strong movement within the United States that works for peace in the United States and in countries throughout the world – Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran and Gaza.
As I was honored to serve my country by working within our government for over 35 years, I am now honored to be serving my country by actively and visibly confronting our government, demanding peace and justice and accountability for actions of government officials. Challenging government policies that are harmful, much less illegal, is a responsibility for us as citizens.
There are many ways to serve one’s country. I fully believe challenging policies that one feels are harmful to our nation is service, not treason.
So, six years after my resignation, I am proud to have resigned and value so much the new friends I have made, as well as the old friends from the past.
I will continue working for peace and justice every day.
Ann Wright is a retired US Army & Army Reserves colonel and former US diplomat, who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war. She was a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience”. Her March 19, 2003, letter of resignation can be read at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/032103wright.htm.
Alan Cohen on the Economy
An ancient Chinese blessing wishes recipients, “May you live in interesting times.” Well, we now have the answer to that prayer. Actually, all times are interesting, just in different ways.
During the last week and month the economy seems to be at the top of most people’s list of urgent issues to think and talk about. Today the U.S. government is issuing a new policy to deal with the economic upsets of late. Below are some suggestions on how to get to a better feeling place about the economy, and generate practical results for yourself and others.
Here is my six-point plan. I am not an economist, and frankly I don’t understand all of the complexities of the current market. I do, however, understand the relationship between thought, belief, feeling, attitude, expectation, identity, and practical prosperity. So here is my six-point plan, which will surely work if you apply it:
- Vision. A visionary sees and remembers the Big Picture in the face of current appearances to the contrary. The Big Picture of life is utter abundance. There are vast resources, economic and otherwise, for those who recognize and claim them. A visionary thrives under all conditions. There are always people who do well in difficult economic times, as well as those who flounder in prosperous times. It is not the economy at large that determines your well being; it is the consciousness you hold in relation to it. So you have the power to create a prosperous personal economy â€“ and as you do, you will uplift the economy at large. The two greatest achievements of the twentieth century — the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building — were funded and built at the height of the great depression. Some individuals with a broad perspective were not limited by the prevalent beliefs of the masses. There are, and will be, people who prosper now and in the near future. I know people whose businesses are booming now. So can yours, and by your example you can manifest abundance that will inspire others and help them in material ways.
- Trust. When human affairs appear to falter, the hand of the divine becomes very real and practical. A Higher Power is currently running the universe far more intelligently and successfully than even the best economists. The more you stay connected to that Higher Power, the richer will be your inner peace and your ability to make healthy, productive decisions.In a Greek myth, the King of Crete sent Theseus through the labyrinth to kill or be killed by the dreaded monster Minotaur. The king’s daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him a thread that he let unwind on his way into the labyrinth, which guided him out once he slayed the monster. Whenever you feel trapped or lost in the labyrinth of worldly life, your strongest move is to take hold of the thread of your connection to Spirit, hold firm to it, and let it lead you back to well-being. One of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books is entitled, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, and no advice could be more appropriate than the economic situation we face at the moment.
- Reframe. The Chinese written symbol for “crisis” is a combination of two other symbols: “Danger” and “Opportunity.” Yes, there is a danger in our current position. And yes, there is an opportunity. Perhaps we are receiving a wake-up call to live within our means rather than leverage ourselves and our institutions beyond a healthy level. Or we are being invited to recognize that money does not make us rich, or its temporary absence of restriction make us poor. Perhaps this situation will influence the upcoming election in a way that will help us in the long run. Maybe there is a natural balancing occurring that will make our economy stronger. I cannot say exactly how this crisis will serve, but I do know that whenever I have faced and handled the experience of crisis in my personal life, I have been moved to make decisions that have made improved my world. A Course in Miracles tells us that “All change is good,” and this should be no exception.
- Reset Priorities. In an episode of the popular television series, Fantasy Island, called, “The Luckiest Man in the World,” a gambler achieved his fantasy to create an unstoppable winning streak. True to form, Mr. Roark arranged for the man’s young son to visit him at the same time. When the gambler became hypnotized by winning, he distanced himself from his son, and the boy was about to leave him. Finally the father realized he is the luckiest man in the world — not for his gambling winnings, but for his family. When money seems tight, we have a window of insight to recognize how rich we are, no matter how much we have in the bank. If many of us use this time to grow closer to our families, homes, nature, activities that truly bring us joy, ourselves, and our Higher Power, this upheaval will have served us well.
- Circulate. Keep moving your energy, financially and otherwise. The brilliant metaphysician Florence Scovel Shinn noted, “All disease is due to congestion and all healing is due to circulation.” This dynamic applies impeccably to an economic congestion. When people are afraid to spend money, there is less money in circulation; then people grow afraid to spend, and the cycle goes on. The dynamics shift when consumers act not from a sense of lack or fear, but from abundance and faith. So now would be a great time to spend your money. When you do, you affirm that you have enough and you keep the circulation moving — not just from you, but to you. If you don’t have money to spend, or would rather not, then circulate your energy in other ways. Express your creativity, volunteer, paint, play music, journal, and do anything to move energy rather than let it stagnate. (Pressing buttons on the remote control to watch talking heads discuss the economy does not qualify as circulating energy.)
- Milk Every Moment. It would be easy to think that you will be able to relax and enjoy your life as soon as the current crisis is averted or offset. But that’s the carrot at the end of the stick — the one that you never get to bite. Either life is rewarding now, or it never will be. From the sense of the ego, or small self, if it’s not the economy you have to wait to handle, it’s something else. So now would be perfect opportunity to practice enjoying your day, regardless of what money is doing. Stop and chat with the clerk in the supermarket, play with your kids, call someone you love, walk in the park, or tinker with your hobby. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for — don’t miss it!
Everything will work out. It always does. Be of good cheer. Be uplifted and be an uplifter, and your contribution to the economy, financial and spiritual, will be paramount.
Quotes and Affirmations
(Sources with known authors acknowledged; other source unknown)
The tide always comes back in.
— Norman Vincent Peale
Every dollar I spend enriches the economy, blesses everyone it touches, and returns to me multiplied.
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
— Psalm 23
I am an abundant being, living in an abundant universe that is capable, willing, and glad to meet all of my needs and the needs of everyone.
I am rich in many, many ways. I always have been, and always will be.
It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
— Luke 12:32
God does not owe, and as a Child of God, created in God’s image and likeness, neither do I.
Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that; it lights the whole sky.
My cup runneth over.
— Psalm 23
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
— Timothy 1:7
Abundance is right where I stand.
You can afford to be generous because you have access to an unlimited supply.
Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.
Thank God for what you have, and you will always have everything you want.
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
— Peter Drucker