U.S. Diplomat Resigns, Protesting 'Our Fervent Pursuit of War'
By FELICITY BARRINGER
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 26 - A career diplomat who has served in United States
embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan resigned this week in
protest against the country's policies on Iraq.
The diplomat, John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the United
States Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "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."
Mr. Kiesling, 45, who has been a diplomat for about 20 years, said in a
telephone interview tonight that he faxed the letter to Secretary of State
Colin L, Powell on Monday after informing Thomas Miller, the ambassador in
Athens, of his decision.
He said he had acted alone, but "I've been comforted by the expressions of
support I've gotten afterward" from colleagues.
"No one has any illusions that the policy will be changed," he said. "Too
much has been invested in the war."
Louis Fintor, a State Department spokesman, said he had no information on Mr.
Kiesling's decision and it was department policy not to comment on personnel
In his letter, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times by a friend
of Mr. Kiesling's, the diplomat wrote Mr. Powell: "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."
His letter continued: "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."
It is rare but not unheard-of for a diplomat, immersed in the State
Department's culture of public support for policy, regardless of private
feelings, to resign with this kind of public blast. From 1992 to 1994, five
State Department officials quit out of frustration with the Clinton
administration's Balkans policy.
Asked if his views were widely shared among his diplomatic colleagues, Mr.
Kiesling said: "No one of my colleagues is comfortable with our policy.
Everyone is moving ahead with it as good and loyal. The State Department is
loaded with people who want to play the team game - ”we have a very strong
premium on loyalty."