Twenty years ago on this coming weekend, I was in Mongolia as the Deputy US Ambassador. After writing a Dissent Cable in early March 2003 on the pending US war on Iraq to my boss Secretary of State Colin Powell, I made the decision to resign from the US government as it was poised to invade, occupy and destroy the sovereign state of Iraq. I was one of three US diplomats who resigned – Brady Kiesling and John Brown resigned before me.
For months, the Bush administration attempted to get the US public to believe that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction and therefore was a threat to the United States and the international community. Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003 briefing on weapons of mass destruction to the U.N. Security Council was a bust and the Bush administration was unable to get the necessary votes for the UN to authorize military operations in its name. Nor did millions of ordinary citizens around the world believe Bush and Powell’s justification for war and they were marching against the war in numbers never seen in the recorded history of our planet.
As a reminder of the events leading up to the war on Iraq and the complicity of the media in providing the Bush administration all the coverage it wanted, The Dissenter is publishing the daily history of the Bush administration’s lies and the media cover-up. On March 16, 2023, The Dissenter posted the twenty-year old March 16, 2003 Washington Post article by Walter Pincus on his investigation of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in his infamous February 5, 2003 speech at the UN Security Council. Pincus’ investigation revealed that "US intelligence agencies have been unable to give Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or where they are hidden." Pincus highlighted how US officials "repeatedly have failed to mention the considerable amount of documented weapons destruction that took place in Iraq between 1991 and 1998." The Post buried this small article on page A17, instead of on the front page where it belonged. Pincus wrote, "The front pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times are very important in shaping what other people think. They’re like writing a memo to the White House," and that’s why the Post buried his critical article.
Tragically and criminally, the Bush administration went ahead and attacked Iraq and in the next decade created massive instability in the Middle East and the conditions for the rise of violent militia groups that are still terrorizing the region and the world. In the next two decades, the US continued its war mongering in Europe, Africa and North East Asia.
Today, twenty years after the beginning of the disastrous war on Iraq, the world is faced with the US war mongering in two major areas and several smaller ones. In Ukraine, the US is providing weapons for the US proxy war to "weaken" Russia..at the terrible expense of the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians and the destruction of a large amount of housing and national infrastructure in Ukraine.
In the Pacific and Asia, the US has encouraged NATO, the NORTH ATLANTIC treaty organization to expand its area of concern/influence halfway around the world with NATO country ships and ground personnel in military war maneuvers to threaten China’s remarkable economic rise and modest military increase – in China’s own front yard. The US and South Korea are having the largest war maneuvers in decades on the border with North Korea.
In these dangerous actions with Russia, China and North Korea, the US and European media have been cheerleaders for military confrontation, just as they were for the US war on Iraq. Only this time, the US is challenging large, nuclear weapons countries, not a small country that the US knew had already destroyed its weaponry.
We are facing the same desire in the US and European media to bow to the wishes of the governments rather than the media being investigative journalists to give the public the honest truth about what is happening in a current brutal war in Ukraine and the lead-up to military actions in the Western Pacific and Northeast Asia.
Having served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retiring as a Colonel and 16 years as a US diplomat in US embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia, all I can say is "Don’t believe everything the US government says or the US media writes."
No one wins when diplomacy is shot dead by military actions. Keep talking instead of shooting.
The future of our planet will depend on it!!
Ann Wright is a retired US Army Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned from the US government in March 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq. She had served in US embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. Since her resignation 20 years ago this weekend, she has worked for peace with CODEPINK: Women For Peace, Veterans For Peace and many other peace organizations. She has travelled to Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and other countries under U.S. sanctions to write about U.S. imperialism. She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.