Iraq, US Politics

John Brady Kiesling,

is – or rather, has been – an American career diplomat who has written an open letter to Colin Powell to inform him as well as the rest of the world [ via NYTimes, or Sueddeutsche Zeitung , link in German ] of his resignation from the Foreign Service of the United States and from his position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens, effective March 7. You might have read his open letter somewhere during the last two days. If not, read it, it is quite interesting.

My initial reaction was „wow, where can I sign this“ and „My God, courageous guy. He is surely going to be lynched for alleged treason should he ever return to the US“.

His letter of resignation is a reminder that there is a „Bush, the Cowboy“-perception similar to that in many European Capitals even within the US State Department (which, if I am informed correctly, has always been regarded by „real“ hawks as a breeding ground for multilateral weasels anyway…), and that Colin Powell has not been able to successfully „contain“ George W. Bush –

„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.“

But then again, I don’t know John Brady Kiesling. So I take his own words as a useful reminder –

„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.“

So now, after the appropriate motive scepticism disclaimer, I would like to quote some more parts of his letter.

„… 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.“

„… 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. …“

„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. …“

„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? …“

„I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. Administration. „

In related news, I find it quite interesting that it appears as if the letter is only reaching those parts of the public which already agree with the points made, if the blogdex-trackback should actually be a useful indicator of public perception. It seems, pro war blogs are not too active linking Mr Kiesling’s criticism of the current administration’s policy. So, again, everybody is talking to his home market and no real interaction and discussion occurs. Too bad. I think, Mr. Kiesling’s remarks deserve to be taken seriously.

Does anybody know if he got some big media attention in the US – apart from the NYTimes printing the letter?

Is he still alive?

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