Dissent for Peace, Not More War

Fifty-one mid-level U.S. diplomats signed a “dissent cable” calling for the U.S. military to launch air strikes against the Syrian military to tilt the civil war back in favor of the rebels, a mistake, writes ex-U.S. diplomat Ann Wright.

By Ann Wright

I served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat. But, in late February 2003, I wrote a dissent cable to Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing my strong concerns about the Bush administration’s hot rhetoric about the need for regime change in Iraq and predicted the chaos that a U.S. invasion and occupation would have.

My dissent had no effect on the Bush administration and three weeks later on the eve of the beginning of the war on Iraq, I sent Colin Powell another cable – this time with my resignation.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as "shock and awe."

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

I was OPPOSING the use of military force for “regime change” that was couched in the terminology of allegations of weapons of mass destruction. These 51 U.S. diplomats are now lobbying FOR military action essentially for “regime change” couched in the words of “bring Assad to the negotiating table.”

None of us condone the Assad’s government dropping horrific “barrel bombs” on anyone, but after seeing the chaos of Iraq and Libya after their leaders were removed by U.S. military action, I fail to understand how removing Bashar al-Assad by U.S. military force will have any other result than increasing chaos and violence in Syria and giving an opening for groups to gain control that may perpetrate even worse violence on the people of Syria.

Although I don’t know the names or history of the diplomats who signed the dissent cable, as mid-level officers they probably have worked in the State Department 10 to 15 years and have known nothing but U.S. wars since 2001, that is 15 years of war.

War is now the U.S. government’s norm and their viewpoints seem to be coming from that perspective, despite some resounding non-violent successes to address political disagreements in Cuba and Iran.

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the matches that lit the fires in Libya and Syria, brought thousands of international mercenary fighters to the region and precipitated the terrible attacks in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and possibly Orlando.

Sadly and dangerously, the diplomats who signed this letter either do not recognize or do not care that attempting to bomb Assad for “regime change” may satisfy Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, our “allies” in blood, but would create an even stronger anti-American blaze in the region and around the world that could be uncontrollable.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. After sending a dissent cable on the pending Iraq war, she resigned from the U.S. Department of State in March, 2003. She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

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22 comments for “Dissent for Peace, Not More War

  1. Baldurdasche
    June 24, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Dissent for war? Now there would be a refreshingly new concept. If only.

  2. June 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    One could be mistaken, but the 51 from the State Department opinion for bombing Syrian forces doesn’t include abiding by international rules by going through the United Nations Security Council. It’s important to note that the International Criminal Court has yet to achieve global jurisdiction to deter war crimes immunity, because nations remain unwilling to join the ICC. A simple United Nations reform will solve that problem. Such a reform would make it mandatory for each UN member state to decide on joining the ICC or face ejection from the UN. Any nation deciding to oppose ICC membership and its truly deterrent effect on committing of war crimes, crimes against humanity, wars of aggression, etc. would suffer international shame and extreme loss of reputation, making it near impossible to choose staying out of the ICC. With unanimous participation in the ICC by all nations on Earth, for the 1st time in history a legal institution would operate having the result of virtual elimination of war crimes. That means creating the means for putting an end to war – peace on Earth.

  3. F. G. Sanford
    June 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    A Captain bewildered, a mutinous crew, a voyage commissioned but never conceived,
    Those fairytale promises fell to logistics, the binnacle list was a plot to eschew
    That a treacherous team made of rivals and scoundrels might offer a clue:
    Why the hand on the wheel steered to points of the compass never achieved.

    Casual mutiny doesn’t exist. The collar of consequence fastens too tightly:
    A rope and a yardarm conjures that fate, a shackle to anchor chain steadies the twist,
    So quick resolution, summary judgement, ties ends in a knot just as tight as a fist.
    Fifty one names on the binnacle list, but the leader is missing, if I’m guessing rightly.

    Imperial mandates define jurisdiction, suzerainty’s pawn guards the helm underway.
    When told in its fullness, the fairytale sails, its rigging adapted to winds of prediction,
    Obscurantist rumblings muddy the plot, but the ship stays the course and defies dereliction.
    Her captain is shackled and can’t leave the wheel, unless he’s relieved by imperial sway.

    Raised by a woman embroiled in banks, (the sire and mare are a blur in the plot),
    She managed the payroll for CIA games, Bung Karno succumbed to those scurrilous pranks.
    Across the Pacific, wherever arose, if progress or sovereign dreams promised thanks
    They’d squash independence for vassalage stooges; success was achieved more often than not.

    One might imagine the list offers plotters enmeshed in supreme international crime,
    But The Captain has orders and follows them well, he steers as he’s told across treacherous waters.
    Recalling the tales of those Barbary pirates, the home folk scorn pity for victims he slaughters.
    Justice can’t see allied service to greed, and finance is blind when the profit is prime.

    Meanwhile the Ice Queen surveys her reflection, (no fairytale story can do without evil),
    Born without beauty to strangled desire, ambition and pretense consumed her affection;
    Defined by facade and a bodily organ, hypocrisy shines on a false predilection.
    “Mirror please tell me, I care not for beauty, I seek the power of kingdoms medieval.

    Mirror, I query with sincere desire, Will I still be King if that ship should go down?”
    “Madam, be patient, buffoons may presume, but you and The Captain had time to conspire,
    The plan is well laid, the course has been set, in all likelihood, the deed will transpire,
    Some Holy Land fakirs may not be amused, but I am quite sure that you’ll soon wear the crown.

    “Your Captain Ulysses is tied to the mast, so Madam, fear not, he’s beholden to you,
    A pardon serves both of you, Powers that Be, the forces of evil will triumph at last,
    Victoria, Susan and Sam have been busy, stirring that brew and the spell has been cast,
    They’ve incanted phrases certain to please, the Next Level awaits, and the Empire too!

    “Serfdom befits all those Barbary Apes, and your corporate sponsors are sure to agree,
    Between you and me, we may air our disdain, on issues of race, no candor escapes,
    Syrian pipelines are still the big prize, CGI will reap riches, all sizes and shapes,
    But Madam assure me there’s no quid pro quo, an email that flaunts it could change what I see.

    “Mirror, I’m certain they all were deleted, and Comey has reason to tread carefully.
    My story has worked and it’s been finely honed, I get it down patter each time it’s repeated.
    That R2P letter was from all my fans, and DoJ donors don’t think that I cheated-
    They sent eighty grand in campaign contributions, even Loretta seems happy with me!

    “Then Madam, I’m sure that your ship will come in, and that mutinous crew will rejoice,
    They’ve set the agenda with seamanship proud, your crown is a cinch, let the bombing begin!
    The media lackeys will retell the saga, extolling the uterine virtues within,
    Bloomsday or Doomsday, Ulysses will sail, what difference it makes at this point…is merely a Hobson’s choice.

    • Bob Van Noy
      June 20, 2016 at 8:21 am

      I treasure reading you F.G. Sanford; a Hobson’s choice indeed! Surely classic literature was created for societal moments such as we’re experiencing right now. One can feel the tension as this very injured government stumbles toward the precipice. I fear the only hope is for one or both nominating conventions to go off track and lead to a better choice, but even that hope is fading…

  4. Stefan
    June 18, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    “None of us condone the Assad’s government dropping horrific “barrel bombs” on anyone”

    I condone the sovereign and internationally recognized legitimate government Syria to defend itself against US Al Qaeda affiliated proxy Death Squads.

    It is very strange that the author of this article suggests the opposite.

  5. David G
    June 18, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Maybe all 51 will take Ann Wright’s example and resign in three weeks if their dissent cable doesn’t start the desired war.

    I for one will loudly applaud their principled stand, and quietly thank heaven they are out of government.

  6. Anthony Shaker
    June 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    With all due respect, Ms. Wright, you should be absolutely clear–to a point at least worthy of your honorable career–about what “barrel bombs” are. Let me be absolutely clear myself: the whole idea is concoction of the mediatic opinion-makers and, of course, the Obama team. There is no such thing as a barrel bomb, and no experienced military analyst would go out of his way to claim that they exist. I haven’t seen any and the videos purportedly showing them are usually accompanied by Allahu Akbars and hoos and has to make us believe what the clip does not show.

    At any rate, bombs are bombs, and if there is anyone left who is concerned about Syrian lives, then they should urge the government to stop sponsoring Wahhabi terrorists and all those who aid and abet them–PERIOD. But refrain from lending a hand to those who thrive on hysteria with the use of non-words. I am trying not to call the US government a “regime,” which might offend you. But that government is a sponsor of terrorism in the most classical sense possible.

  7. Anthony Shaker
    June 18, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    With all due respect, Ms. Wright, you should be absolutely clear–to a point at least worthy of your honorable career–about what “barrel bombs” are. Let me be absolutely clear myself: the whole idea has been concocted by the mediatic opinion-makers and, of course, the Obama team. There is no such thing as a barrel bomb, and no experienced military analyst would go out of his way to claim that they exist. I haven’t seen any and the videos purportedly showing them are usually accompanied by Allahu Akbars and hoo’s and ha’s to make us believe what the clip does not show.

    At any rate, bombs are bombs, and if there is anyone left who is concerned about Syrian lives, then they should urge the US government and its allies to stop sponsoring Wahhabi terrorists and all those who aid and abet them–PERIOD.

    But please refrain from lending a hand to those who thrive on hysteria with the use of non-words. I am trying not to call the US government a “regime,” which might offend you. But that government is a sponsor of terrorism in the most classical sense possible.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 18, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Ah, but ‘barrel bombs’ makes such a nice ‘sound bite’. This is brought to us by our fantastic news media who have perfected the sound bite to a tee. Like everything else in modern America, it doesn’t have to be real to be real, our media will provide more than enough of the reality we need to get by. So barrel bombs it is. Good comment Anthony.

      • Anthony Shaker
        June 18, 2016 at 4:02 pm

        The bleating of sheephood…or lemminghood.

      • Realist
        June 19, 2016 at 8:10 am

        Me Obama, you not. Barrel bombs bad, cluster bombs good. Good also phosphorus bombs, also depleted uranium projectiles. Sarin used by ISIS to fool public especially good, U.S. media still blame Assad. Assad very bad, must go. Next Putin go.

        • Anon
          June 19, 2016 at 12:25 pm

          Could be first in a series: …Me American, you not. Me patriot, you not. Me legal, you not. Me gay, you not. Me graduate, you not. etc…

  8. Hank
    June 18, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Syria does NOT represent any threat whatsoever to the American people. Syria is being attacked for Israel and Israel alone, just like the Iraq invasion in 2003. The USA is NOT fighting an honest war, helping the “rebels” in their campaign of terrorism against the peace-loving Syrian people. And and all people in the USG who have had any hand whatsoever in implementing the “civil war” in Syria should be tried for war crimes and hung! If Americans knew the truth about the USA’s provocations in Syria they would thoroughly denounce Obama and Clinton as well as the policy itself. And to think that one of the main architects of this monstrous war crime is the Democrat’s “presumed nominee” for President! The main problem with this world are the unaccountable “civil servants” who are beholden to special interests at the expense of their supposed constituents!

    • Realist
      June 19, 2016 at 8:01 am

      I hope that Trump brings up that point about what America gains from all this repeatedly during the campaign. Why kill so many when it is entirely unnecessary? Then tie the madness in Syria to Hitlery’s policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Finally, emphasize that this travesty, this mass murder in our name, not only carries grave moral culpability but also costs a fortune that we can no longer bear. Our next generation, now coming of age, already cannot afford college, medical care or the financial wherewithal to even marry and raise families because our government’s entire budget is being flushed down a giant commode of endless warfare. Our infrastructure is not being renewed and our jobs are being disappeared to foreign lands, not created by the oligarchs who own the MIC and are the only beneficiaries of this unending butchery. Ask the question, Trump, is that what America stands for? Is any of it making us beloved, or even bringing us any respect, around the globe? Hit her in the chops with the truth, man. Play offense against the witch, rather than nattering on about building fences and denying visas to select religious groups. Those are contrived issues, these wars are a stark reality that must end.

  9. Joe Tedesky
    June 18, 2016 at 11:27 am

    For most of this election cycle I have been wondering, just how exactly the stage will be set for Hillary upon her ascension to the throne. I imagined, as many of you have, what false flag or what lonegunman attack would be suitable to exploit, and further excite America’s obsession with world power. As terrible as the Orlando killing spree is, I still wonder if this incident will be the most devastating one to have our politicians rally our misinformed public on into war. Seeing how these 50 diplomats (if you can call them that) wasted no time after the Orlando lonegunman attack, to leak their advocacy to oust Bashar al-Assad out of power, and go against the Obama administrations handling of that theater of rival fractions, seems rather convenient for the next in line to be president yet to be elected savior of everything Neocon. (My use of the word Neocon is very broad here) I like some others sense that after Hillary’s coronation she will have an easy task to perform, by merely going through the motions to further America’s war footing anywhere in this world she, and her handlers feel is worthy of American domination. This all probably sounds good on paper, but war is never just relegated to just paper. What’s even more of a concern, is all the while these Wall Street diplomats scheme, there are real people out in those very places deemed for conquest who will be fighting against these executives of war, because they will be defending their homeland. Our so brilliant leaders ignore their many failures at conquest of other people’s homelands, such as Afghanistan, Libya, and act so cocky like they are on it in Syria and Iraq, to the point of their showing how they all are in utter denial of anything real. No, somehow, someway, the stage will be set just perfectly for Madam Hillary, and this is not what this planet needs at this moment. Oh, by the way, how’s that FBI Hillary email investigation going?

    • June 18, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      A Clinton presidency absolutely means more Middle East wars, and a Trump presidency may not. Which is why the Republican establishment is doing its best to ensure that Trump loses which is what AIPAC (The Israel Lobby) wants, sensing that someone with his wealth and ego may not be as malleable as others.

      Trump seems like a loose cannon – but he did not become a billionaire several times over by being foolishly incompetent.

    • Realist
      June 19, 2016 at 7:45 am

      The actions of these so-called diplomats, presumably appointed by the alleged “peacenik” in the White House, just go to prove that the man has never had any control over the policies of his own government. This letter is rank insubordination. If he had any cajones, he’d sack them all promptly. Sadly, as weak as he has been as a leader, Frau Hitlery will more than compensate in the opposite direction. She’ll be punching ISIS’s ticket to Damascus within weeks of her inauguration. Europe had better get ready for an even greater influx of refugees.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 20, 2016 at 1:26 am

      Those 51 diplomats were giving their old boss a mighty hey We can’t wait to get you back. These DOJer’s want to get on the good side of the old…I mean new Commander & Chief. Don’t you just hate kiss asses? Add these 51 to that little list of DOJer’s who donated 75k to the Hillary Victory Fund. So, now on Fox News Loretta Lunch never speaks to Obama about the Hillary email investigation

      What could be the reason for why the 51 diplomats would rebuke the Obama Syrian Plan
      Could it be a sign of anxious for return Hillary, we mean Queen Hillary.

      http://journal-neo.org/2016/06/19/the-us-state-department-is-awaiting-hillarys-reign/

      Before the dipo51 there was this….

      http://www.wnd.com/2016/05/doj-workers-donate-75000-to-hillary/

      Lynch Obama never talk about It

      http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/284046-lynch-ive-never-discussed-clinton-email-scandal-with-the

  10. exiled off mainstreet
    June 18, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Pro-war rants are more than howlers with nuclear bombs becoming a more serious threat as the character of those working for the government deteriorates. If it wasn’t for all my friends and family there, I would say that these “diplomats” statements mean that the world would be a better place if the yankee imperium collapsed. Unfortunately, this collapse will likely be accompanied by armageddon.

  11. Zachary Smith
    June 18, 2016 at 10:58 am

    None of us condone the Assad’s government dropping horrific “barrel bombs” on anyone,

    Probably this essay was hastily composed, but even with that in mind, this was a definite howler.

    Civilians ought to be spared as much as possible in any war, but “barrel bombs” dropped onto the ISIS head-choppers and ‘burning alive’ boys gives them a much easier death than they did to their own victims.

  12. dahoit
    June 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Horrific barrel bombs destroys ones credibility.Sorry,they are antique weapons of necessity,if used at all,and much less lethal than missiles,planes and bombs of the US murderers,and their IsUS friends.
    Please stop the hyperbole,and please stop trying to make our crimes less than what they are,while the Syrian govt fights Zion.

    • Peter Loeb
      June 19, 2016 at 7:54 am

      ” …None of us condone the Assad’s government dropping horrific “barrel bombs”
      on anyone…”

      I support The Government of Syria’s RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE. When
      country A is invaded by foreigners/terrorists does it not have the duty to defend
      itself.?

      Those who object to barrel bombs never seem to put any blame on
      the invaders, many of whom are supported by the USA.

      In fact, the US supported a UN Security Council Resolution of a few
      years ago urging all countries to support the Government of
      Syria. It passed unanimously. Within a week Secretary of
      State Kerry was demanding regime change in Syria. The resolution
      supported by the US was consigned to the “memory hole”.

      If the US had supported Syria as the Security Council unanimously urged,
      perhaps we would not be talking about “barrell bombs” at all
      but instead of advanced bombers against militant groups affiliated
      with al Queda. Instead it would be high tech US-designed and
      produced weapons.

      Or is it suggested that foreign nations and terrorists can invade
      a nation, murder its citizens who do not agree with them and
      never get hurt?

      One must always be reminded that Russia invited the US to
      join in a coalition in defense of the Government of Syria.
      Secretary Kerry went to Moscow, Such a coalition
      would have gone a long way to preventing the US and Russia
      from attacking each other. The US refused.

      No one ever suggested that war is not hell. People die.
      But when you invade other countries, one must not
      expect that nation to do nothing in response.

      For further background, See reports in Consortiumnews.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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