The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2013

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2013 27 THE ROLE OF DISSENT INNATIONAL SECURITY, LAWANDCONSCIENCE One of three officers 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 different 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, indefinite 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 officer 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’affaires in leading the evacuation of 2,500 people from Sierra Leone in 1997. The 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