|From Three Decades as a Colonel and Diplomat to Six Years as a Peace
After Downing Street.org
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel and former US diplomat
It was six years ago today that I resigned from the Bush administration and the U.S. 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 U.S. government, were being forced into taking military
action against Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi government.
I, like so many US diplomats and US citizens, were 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
members 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 U.S., 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
U.S. Federal employees whom had resigned (both were also U.S. 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. 15 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 U.S. 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 U.S.
I must stay 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 of 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 image working the past 6 years in the Bush administration and I fully intend to 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 travelled 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.
About the Author: Ann Wright is a Retired US Army & Army Reserves Colonel and former US diplomat who
resigned in opposition to the Iraq war. She served in as 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” www.voicesofconscience.com. Her March 19, 2003 letter of resignation can be
read at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/032103wright.htm