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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JULY-AUGUST 2013
27
THE ROLE OF DISSENT
INNATIONAL SECURITY,
LAWANDCONSCIENCE
One of three ofcers to resign from
the Foreign Service a decade ago in
protest of the Iraq War revisits the
ethical implications of that decision.
BY ANN WR I GHT
O
ver the past decade, spanning two diferent presiden-
cies, the U.S. government and its individual employees
have faced extraordinarily important issues at the
intersection of national security, law and conscience.
Major American policies promulgated in the name of
national security regarding war, invasion and occupa-
tion, kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture,
indefnite detention, curtailment of civil liberties,
extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations and
eavesdropping have all been called into legal question.
For women and men in our government, these ethical issues should create crises of
conscience. Public servants face the dilemma of how, within the system, to challenge
policies that are ill-considered at best, or illegal at worst. Can one continue working
for a government carrying out policies it claims are critical to national security, if one
believes those policies constitute moral, ethical or legal failures?
Ann Wright was a Foreign Service ofcer from 1987 until 2003, when she resigned from the
Service in protest of the Iraq War while serving as deputy chief of mission in Ulaanbaatar. She
had previously served as DCM in Freetown, Kolonia and (for a short time) Kabul, in addition to
assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Krygyzstan, Grenada, Nicaragua and Washington, D.C. She
received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her work as chargé d’afaires in leading
the evacuation of 2,500 people from Sierra Leone in 1997.
Te co-author with Susan Dixon of
Dissent: Voices of Conscience
(foreword by Daniel
Ellsberg; Koa Books, 2008), Ms. Wright spent 13 years in the U.S. Army and 16 years in the Army
Reserves, retiring as a colonel, before joining the Foreign Service. From her home in Honolulu, she
continues to write and speak out for peace and justice, and has been arrested numerous times all
over the world because of her nonviolent protests.
FOCUS
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS