Mary A. Wright's resignation letter
The following is a copy of Mary (Ann) Wright's letter of resignation to
Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wright was most recently the deputy chief
of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She helped open the
U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2002.
March 19, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell
US Department of State
Washington, DC 20521
Dear Secretary Powell:
When I last saw you in Kabul in January, 2002 you arrived to officially open
the US Embassy that I had helped reestablish in December, 2001 as the first
political officer. At that time I could not have imagined that I would be
writing a year later to resign from the Foreign Service because of US
policies. All my adult life I have been in service to the United States. I
have been a diplomat for fifteen years and the Deputy Chief of Mission in
our Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly) and
Mongolia. I have also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,
Grenada and Nicaragua. I received the State Department's Award for Heroism
as Charge d'Affaires during the evacuation of Sierra Leone in 1997. I was 26
years in the US Army/Army Reserves and participated in civil reconstruction
projects after military operations in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. I
attained the rank of Colonel during my military service.
This is the only time in my many years serving America that I have felt I
cannot represent the policies of an Administration of the United States. I
disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, North Korea and curtailment of civil liberties in the U.S. itself.
I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a more
dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally
to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign
from government service as I cannot defend or implement them.
I hope you will bear with my explanation of why I must resign. After thirty
years of service to my country, my decision to resign is a huge step and I
want to be clear in my reasons why I must do so.
I disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq
I wrote this letter five weeks ago and held it hoping that the
Administration would not go to war against Iraq at this time without United
Nations Security Council agreement. I strongly believe that going to war now
will make the world more dangerous, not safer.
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator and has done
incredible damage to the Iraqi people and others of the region. I totally
support the international community's demand that Saddam's regime destroy
weapons of mass destruction.
However, I believe we should not use US military force without UNSC
agreement to ensure compliance. In our press for military action now, we
have created deep chasms in the international community and in important
international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies
and created ill will in much of the world.
Countries of the world supported America's action in Afghanistan as a
response to the September 11 Al Qaida attacks on America. Since then,
America has lost the incredible sympathy of most of the world because of our
policy toward Iraq. Much of the world considers our statements about Iraq as
arrogant, untruthful and masking a hidden agenda. Leaders of moderate
Moslem/Arab countries warn us about predicable outrage and anger of the
youth of their countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose
of attacking Moslems/Arabs, not defending them. Attacking the Saddam regime
in Iraq now is very different than expelling the same regime from Kuwait, as
we did ten years ago.
I strongly believe the probable response of many Arabs of the region and
Moslems of the world if the US enters Iraq without UNSC agreement will
result in actions extraordinarily dangerous to America and Americans.
Military action now without UNSC agreement is much more dangerous for
America and the world than allowing the UN weapons inspections to proceed
and subsequently taking UNSC authorized action if warranted.
I firmly believe the probability of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction
is low, as he knows that using those weapons will trigger an immediate,
strong and justified international response. There will be no question of
action against Saddam in that case. I strongly disagree with the use of a
"preemptive attack" against Iraq and believe that this preemptive attack
policy will be used against us and provide justification for individuals and
groups to "preemptively attack" America and American citizens.
The international military build-up is providing pressure on the regime that
is resulting in a slow, but steady disclosure of Weapons of Mass Destruction
(WMD). We should give the weapons inspectors time to do their job. We should
not give extremist Moslems/ Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give
moderate Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must
reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly in
Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic "holy soil" of Saudi Arabia will
be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems as long as the US military remains
and a strong reason, in their opinion, for actions against the US government
and American citizens.
Although I strongly believe the time in not yet right for military action in
Iraq, as a soldier who has been in several military operations, I hope
General Franks, US and coalition forces can accomplish the missions they
will be ordered do without loss of civilian or military life and without
destruction of the Iraqi peoples' homes and livelihood.
I strongly urge the Department of State to attempt again to stop the policy
that is leading us to military action in Iraq without UNSC agreement. Timing
is everything and this is not yet the time for military action.
I disagree with the Administration's lack of effort in resolving the
Likewise, I cannot support the lack of effort by the Administration to use
its influence to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As
Palestinian suicide bombers kill Israelis and Israeli military operations
kill Palestinians and destroy Palestinian towns and cities, the
Administration has done little to end the violence. We must exert our
considerable financial influence on the Israelis to stop destroying cities
and on the Palestinians to curb its youth suicide bombers. I hope the
Administration's long-needed "Roadmap for Peace" will have the human
resources and political capital needed to finally make some progress toward
I disagree with the Administration's lack of policy on North Korea
Additionally, I cannot support the Administration's position on North Korea.
With weapons, bombs and missiles, the risks that North Korea poses are too
great to ignore. I strongly believe the Administration's lack of substantive
discussion, dialogue and engagement over the last two years has jeopardized
security on the peninsula and the region. The situation with North Korea is
dangerous for us to continue to neglect.
I disagree with the Administration's policies on Unnecessary Curtailment
of Rights in America
Further, I cannot support the Administration's unnecessary curtailment of
civil rights following September 11. The investigation of those suspected of
ties with terrorist organizations is critical but the legal system of
America for 200 years has been based on standards that provide protections
for persons during the investigation period. Solitary confinement without
access to legal counsel cuts the heart out of the legal foundation on which
our country stands. Additionally, I believe the Administration's secrecy in
the judicial process has created an atmosphere of fear to speak out against
the gutting of the protections on which America was built and the
protections we encourage other countries to provide to their citizens.
I have served my country for almost thirty years in the some of the most
isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want to continue to serve
America. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration
and cannot defend or implement them. It is with heavy heart that I must end
my service to America and therefore resign due to the Administration's
Mr. Secretary, to end on a personal note, under your leadership, we have
made great progress in improving the organization and administration of the
Foreign Service and the Department of State. I want to thank you for your
extraordinary efforts to that end. I hate to leave the Foreign Service, and
I wish you and our colleagues well.
Mary A. Wright, FO-01
Deputy Chief of Mission