Saturday, December 01, 2012

On Courage

With admiration and respect, I post John Brown's resignation note from the Foreign Service in the face of the invasion of Iraq.

March 10, 2003
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am joining my colleague John Brady Kiesling in submitting my resignation from the Foreign Service (effective immediately) because I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. 
The president has failed:
--To explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time;
--To lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the extent of innocent civilian casualties;
--To specify the economic costs of the war for ordinary Americans;
--To clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror;
--To take international public opinion against the war into serious consideration. 
Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century. 
I joined the Foreign Service because I love our country. Respectfully, Mr. Secretary, I am now bringing this calling to a close, with a heavy heart but for the same reason that I embraced it.
John H. Brown
Foreign Service Officer

He never received a reply.


John Brown said...

Hi Paul -- Can't believe it's nearly ten years since writing the (unanswered) email you kindly cite. "Courage" is too strong a word to describe the contents of this minor missive, but I do appreciate your mentioning it in your great blog.

Pls. allow me -- at the risk of flattering you in response to your kindly posting a ten-year-old letter to Secretary Powell -- to say that your accounts, in your blog, of "cultural diplomacy" in action, in the field, in what actually happens with well-spent taxpayers' money, is remarkable -- and most importantly -- refreshingly honest.

Thank you. Your blog should be a must-read on Capitol Hill.

Best, John

Paul Rockower said...

I would call it courage and character to stand up to the prevailing winds of war.

Thanks for the warm words, but heaven forfend Capitol Hill find out how much fun I am having doing cultural diplomacy on its (tenge, som, manat).