There's a lot of  loose and easy talk about patriotism these days.  Here is a man who didn't love his career less, but his country more. jer  

     U.S. Diplomat John Brady Kiesling
     Letter of Resignation, to:
     Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

     ATHENS | Thursday 27 February 2003

     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 arsenal.

     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 Vietnam. 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 so 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 planet?

     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 I can contribute from outside to shaping
policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people
and the world we share.
 
 

     John Brady Kiesling