Congressional Record: March 4, 2003 (Extensions)
Page E363-E364



                        HON. FORTNEY PETE STARK

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, March 4, 2003

  Mr. STARK. Mr. Speaker I commend to the attention of my colleagues 
the following letter of resignation written by American diplomat John 
Brady Kiesling. Mr. Kiesling served in the U.S. State Department as 
Political Counselor at the American Embassy in Greece before resigning 
his post on Thursday, February 27--ending twenty years of public 
service. Mr. Kiesling's letter is an eloquent expression of principal 
in opposition to war with Iraq and America's heavy-handed approach to 
foreign policy under the leadership of President Bush.

                              US Diplomat John Brady Kiesling,

                                                February 27, 2003.
     Secretary of State Colin L. Powell,
     Letter of Resignation.

       Dear Mr. Secretary: I am writing you to submit my 
     resignation from the Foreign Service of the United States and 
     from my position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy 
     Athens, effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart. The 
     baggage of my upbringing included a felt obligation to give 
     something back to my country. Service as a U.S. diplomat was 
     a dream job. I was paid to understand foreign languages and 
     cultures, to seek out diplomats, politicians, scholars and 
     journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests and 
     theirs fundamentally coincided. My faith in my country and 
     its values was the most powerful weapon in my diplomatic 
       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. But 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. 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. We have begun to dismantle 
     the largest and most effective web of international 
     relationships the world has ever known. Our current course 
     will bring instability and danger, not security.
       The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and 
     to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is 
     certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not 
     seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such 
     systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in 
       The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, 
     rallying around us a vast international coalition to 
     cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the 
     threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those 
     successes and build on them, 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 do to ourselves. Is 
     the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, 
     superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the 
     name of a doomed status quo?
       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. 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. Have we indeed become blind, as Russia 
     is blind in Chechnya, as Israel is blind in the Occupied 
     Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming military 
     power is not the answer to terrorism? After the shambles of 
     post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny and Ramallah, it 
     will be a brave foreigner who forms ranks with Micronesia to 
     follow where we lead.
       We have a coalition still, a good one. 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? Has "oderint dum metuant" really 
     become our motto?
       I urge you to listen to America's friends around the world. 
     Even here in Greece, purported hotbed of European anti-
     Americanism, we have more and closer friends than the 
     American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even when 
     they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know that the 
     world is a difficult and dangerous place, and they want a 
     strong international system, with the U.S. and EU in close 
     partnership. 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 
       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.
       I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile 
     my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. 
     Administration. I have confidence that our democratic process 
     is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way 
     our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and 
     hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to 
     shaping policies that better serve the security and 
     prosperity of the American people and the world we share.