The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has
served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.

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

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.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy