• Interview with John Brown’s Notes and Essays

    October 21, 2012

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Other Ideas

    I sat with John Brown, one of three State Department Foreign Service officers who resigned rather than support the invasion of Iraq in 2003, for an interview.

    We covered a lot of subjects, including a fair amount of inside-baseball State Department stuff about why I went to Iraq, and why I did not resign after Iraq.

    This may have been why what I saw in Iraq so shocked me. I was very unused to the, well, disingenuous chatter that seems to me now in retrospect to characterize much of what the non-Consular parts of State do on a daily basis. I had this, perhaps naive, very practical conception of our work. Consular at its best is about real problem solving: mentally ill American Citizen in the lobby, what are you gonna do? Faced with someone shouting incoherently and undressing in your waiting area, there is no room for a carefully conceived statement of concern, cleared by 18 offices over a three week period. You actually have to do something. In this sense, I was really, really the wrong guy to send into Iraq.

    Since all that happened with the book, people ask why I did not resign. My answer is that I had no reason to do so. I wrote a book documenting what I saw in Iraq. I am certain that had you followed me around for a year you would have seen and heard what I wrote down. I see what I did as documentary, not necessarily dissent per se. In that what I saw and wrote deviates from what State’s vision of Iraq is is I guess the issue. I note that no one, not a single person in the USG nor any reviewer, has contested anything in the book. No one has said, hey, that story about the chicken plant is wrong, or incomplete or made up. No one, nothing. All of the attacks, the criticism, has been ad hominem attacks against me as a person. State people say I should not air dirty laundry, or I should use the dissent channel, or I should have been more respectful in my language, less sarcastic in tone like a “diplomat” should be, I should have done this or that. But no one has challenged the content, and that is because they really can’t. It is all true.

    So why should I have quit? Why should I have resigned? I just wrote a book. It is more like I failed some ideological test.

    John and I also talked about broader foreign policy issues.

    The U.S. will face a continued stagnation on the world stage. When we, perhaps semi-consciously, made a decision to accept an Empire role after World War II, we never build the tools of Empire. No colonial service, no securing of critical resources, no carrot and sticks. We sort of settled on a military-only model of soft occupation. We made few friends or allies, accepting reluctant partners. As changes take place in the developing world, the most likely American people there encounter now wears a uniform and carries a weapon. By ideologicizing every challenge from Communism to the entire religion of Islam, we have assured ourselves of never really winning any struggle.


    Read the full interview online.



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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Eric Hodgdon said...

      1

      The Empire role was accepted before my birth. I wasn’t there to stop them on the certain road to ruin. History is filled with Empires. They all end.

      Here is a letter I faxed to my Congressman last week.

      “U.S. Interests”
      Term used by the federal government to denote and portray their actions around the World. A great many things they do around this World is done in our name, and said to be necessary for this country. Wars are started, people are killed, devastation is inflicted, children are starved to death, ill will is promoted.

      Maybe blood, death, dismemberment, agony, horror, and many more such words could be accurately used to further describe the impacts our federal government willingly creates in our name.

      Besides these horrific events, which our country will never recover from, what is gained by doing these things?

      The claim is “…founded upon the convergence of interests between the U.S. and the community of nations as a whole. The national independence and individual freedoms we seek to uphold are in harmony with the general desires and ideals common to all mankind. The U.S. must therefore remain the natural enemy of any country threatening the independence of others, and the proponent of free trade, commerce, and economic stability.” (NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION, DIRECTIVE NUMBER 238)

      But where is the benefit to me?

      I’m poorer, less secure, and frankly sickened by these greatly disturbing actions done in my name. I derive not only no benefit whatsoever, but am overwhelmingly penalized by these actions for the reasons above.

      I am the natural enemy of any government who engages in these senseless murders, starvations, and depredations, yet I DO NOT OPERATE CONTRARY TO LAW, CUSTOM, OR DECENCY.

      a Humble Citizen

      10/21/12 7:07 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      2

      Yes new thing to come?

      New US Embassy in Erbil!
      Some sources from north Iraq saying that US looking to build a new bigger Embassy in Erbil city but there is no info about the size that with be occupied

      http://www.assafirnews.net/index.php/2012-06-07-02-27-16/7829-2012-10-22-17-01-55.html

      مصدر : الولايات المتحدة الامريكية تستعد لبناء أكبر سفارة لها في اربيل
      الإثنين, 22 تشرين1/أكتوير 2012 20:01 | : السفير نيوز | | |

      {بغداد السفير: نيوز}
      كشفت مصادر كردية مطّلعة ان الاميركان بدأوا الاستعدادات الفعلية لبناء سفارة ضخمة لهم في كردستان تضاهي سفارتهم في بغداد، لكنها لم تحدد المساحة المترية التي ستقام عليها السفارة.
      ورأت المصادر ان انشاء سفارة اميركية في اربيل هي رسالة من واشنطن الى بغداد والى دول الجوار بانها ستدعم نشوء دولة كردية في كردستان تكون نواة لدولة كردية تضم الاكراد في كل من العراق وسوريا وايران وتركيا وستكون هذه الدولة حاضنة للقواعد العسكرية ولمحطات المخابرات الاميركية والاسرائيلية في منطقة الشرق الاوسط.

      10/22/12 8:39 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      3

      when we, perhaps semi-consciously, made a decision to accept an Empire role after World War II, we never build the tools of Empire. No colonial service, no securing of critical resources, no carrot and sticks. We sort of settled on a military-only model of soft occupation.

      With all due respect and If you excuse me to say the followings:
      Although I am in same position against US war on Iraq but after those bloody years and what the region went through, that was might right to say all in all wrong but the regimes like Saddam and Qaddafi will stay in power for long time with deadly consequences that Iraqis and others will subjected to those portal regimes. There is no other way those nations can get rid of them as they tried many times ended with brutal end.
      As early as days of war of before the war, “an Empire” did not measured well the regional factors in regards to get democracy to the region, as I recall and peter may be knows well US forces “colonial service” start building and giving the service to Iraqis what most important factor missed which the Iranians and other Monarchies regimes (Saudis, Jordan, Syrian and Turkey ..Other) each one of them has his fear for getting Iraq stand again strong and democratic. Iran entered from open doors for here starting with killing Iraqis who have made them lose their war and any one against Iranian influences, also start using doubled strategy killing American by using those proxies in same time killing Iraqis and blame Americans, as for others Saudis and Kuwaitis who have revenges also start sending Jihadists to Iraq first to empty their land from the angered folks also do their dirty work as if Iraq stand gain and democratic then defiantly that the end of those regimes in the region, turkey having different matter is the raise of Kurds and their hope to create big Kurdistan includes the Turkish Kurd and Syrian, Iranian minorities that was another matter.

      So all in All “an Empire” was sinking in dirty war the missed who is real enemy in Iraq that were they lost the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, a sarcastic, funny, sad, angry which ended that you struggle to get out of this stink war.

      As I mentioned before I met tow American before the war and they asked me on question about if Iraqi fight them, I said yes … but be careful watch well the eastern border the Iranian and I saw their eyes telling what that means….. then you got it all not Just Iran it’s your alias in the region, Saudis, Kuwaitis and Jordanians and Turkey all of them worked together your war for Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, a sarcastic, funny, sad, angry ending.

      10/22/12 9:16 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      4

      This is the One of Iraqis who understood Irainin’s mengling inisde Iraq, who start to follow the path to rebuild Iraq again but his time off….. a sarcastic, funny, sad….

      10/23/12 2:03 AM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...

      5

      @ Eric Hodgdon – Thank you for saying what needs to be said. You have transcended your nationality and are therefore a free man in that respect.

      Your final point is well taken: “I am the natural enemy of any government who engages in these senseless murders, starvations, and depredations, yet I DO NOT OPERATE CONTRARY TO LAW, CUSTOM, OR DECENCY.” The US government has created many enemies abroad and at home, including me. I know that gives someone pause.

      10/23/12 9:45 AM | Comment Link

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