• Dear Secretary Kerry (On the Death of Anne Smedinghoff)

    April 7, 2013

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Democracy, Embassy/State

    Mr. Secretary, I mourn the death of Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff in Afghanistan. She was only 25 years old. She was one of three American civilians and three soldiers killed in the deadliest day this year for Americans in Afghanistan.

    Anne was killed traveling to a school to donate books, twelve years into America’s longest war.

    It will be easy to dismiss this letter as “playing politics” with a young woman’s death, and you and others might just stop reading here to do so. But if you will read one sentence more, read this: Anne’s presence in Afghanistan was about politics, her death delivering books was a political act (if not propaganda) and your own statement that “She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future” was politics as pure as can be. So if this letter is a political statement, it is in good company.

    Mr. Secretary, as a young man back from Vietnam in 1971 you bravely addressed Congress and said:

    Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake.

    We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

    Mr. Secretary, are you the same brave man you were in 1971? And if so, will you not demand that American lives stop being wasted in Afghanistan and elsewhere on politics and bring them home?

    Mr. Secretary, will you work so that Anne is the last to die for a mistake?

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      PVB Don’t expect any relevant epiphanies from Kerry. His “last man” bullshit was part of his calculated plan to be able to play in both camps for a future run at the presidency. We know how that turned out of course.

      04/7/13 3:15 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Then we’ll just call bullshit, bullshit, and know the man that much better.

      04/7/13 3:20 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Another senseless casualty of a MAD World. That news item will be linked with this one:


      Meanwhile Murder Inc is doing sidejobs:


      04/7/13 3:35 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Well, I’m reminded of the late historian Barbara Tuchman’s book, “The March of Folly” (c 1978), in which one of her main examples of political folly is how Britain lost the American colonies when Britain had other more reasonable options available. As recently as 1775-1776, the American Colonies were striving to make peace with the Mother Country, some kind of arrangement similar to how Canada and Australia became self-ruling members of the Empire.

      But the bone-heads in the British Parliament refused…and the last BRITISH soldiers to die for that mistake, died at the Battle of Cohambahee in South Caroline, in August 1782, TEN MONTHS AFTER THE BRITISH SURRENDERED to George Washington at Yorktown.

      That skirmish was a British victory.

      04/7/13 4:03 PM | Comment Link

    • Ralph said...


      Well said, Peter. As Gibbon observed, history is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” And we never ever learn, and sadly, never will.

      04/7/13 4:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      There’s very little information on how this tragedy occurred. But the WaPo is reporting two different convoys were intersecting – the one the FSO was traveling in with our military and a DoD employee, and another for an Afghan governor’s convoy? Were they going to the same place to deliver books for a public diplomacy event and photo op?

      It sounds like, again there is little info at this point so it’s conjecture, the route became known and they were targeted.

      04/7/13 4:14 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      MLCLT- Tuchman’s take on the folly of the Vietnam war for America was more compelling to me and of course more relevant since I got drafted in 1967. A creep like Kerry plans well ahead. He felt he had to prove his JFK type patriotism even though he had to have known the illegality and immorality of invading Vietnam but he also wanted to be in the camp of the protestors. He must be pissed knowing that such patriotic service wasn’t needed for his boss Obama to become POTUS.

      04/7/13 5:07 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      PVB- your imagined letter to Kerry tops anything I’ve read in weeks. Thanks.

      04/7/13 5:15 PM | Comment Link

    • john brown said...


      Hi Peter, Have the pleasure of citing/quoting yr article at:


      best, john

      04/7/13 5:52 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      John Poole wrote to me:

      “MLCLT- Tuchman’s take on the folly of the Vietnam war for America was more compelling to me and of course more relevant since I got drafted in 1967”

      Hm, well John Poole, for whatever it might be worth, here’s a song I loved in 1969 – when I was a little boy – about some of my neighbours who went to war around that time. I remember some of them personally:


      04/7/13 7:50 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      PS, my above clip, is what America used to be like 40-some years ago. I remember.

      04/7/13 7:57 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      MLCLT Ah! GALVESTON- lovely song but I always wondered how Webb escaped the draft. Keith Barbour’s ECHO PARK was clearly an antiwar song but I never knew Webb wrote GALVESTON to be a protest song.

      04/7/13 8:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Fear not, Elizabeth Palmer of ABC News is very optimistic that things are looking up in Afghanistan (besides looking for drones).


      04/7/13 10:32 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Given the government’s less-than-truthful track record in casualty reports and the media’s incompetence in reporting the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear she was the victim of “friendly fire.”

      04/7/13 11:13 PM | Comment Link

    • JVC said...


      Had Smedinghoff read this blog I wonder what would her opinion would have been? Could she, would she, so early into her career, have seen the biting truth of contributors’ words? Or would she have cast it aside as the prose of a disgruntled former State employee, FSO’s, etc. Maybe she would have agreed wholeheartedly.
      Smedinghoff’s loss is a pity. At the same time it would be advisable for young people serving in executive branch agencies to question very carefully their beliefs, moral compasses and that of their employer. I doubt very much that this young lady, whatever her schooling, background, beliefs, etc., was in anyway prepared for the fury and ferocity of the attack that consumed her life. I don’t work for State. My guess is the recruiting pool for FSO is heavily white, privately educated and comfortably ensconced in the middle/upper middle class strata of American life. These are the last people who should be stationed in near eastern and far eastern combat zones handing out books.
      While the USG is playing politics with this young woman’s life… this gal opted to get herself into the position where this was allowed to happen. Young people looking at the federal service should be aware of this outcome and make conscientious choices accordingly. If not for themselves than for the people who love them and the people who’s countries they will be stationed in.

      04/8/13 5:39 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Slightly off topic, I’ve found a video of Condoleezza Rice in her role in Gone With The Wind:


      04/8/13 6:43 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Prissy’s other famous line was, “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

      Come to think of it, neither does Condoleezza!

      Is there something about the office of Secretary of State that’s especially suitable for lesbians?

      04/8/13 10:42 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      JVC- I reluctantly saw and disliked ARGO. I wondered who those clueless embassy employees were who seemed to have been caught off guard in a country we had disemboweled. I had no pity for those young and foolish “embassy” types who did the work of empire in Iran.

      04/8/13 12:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      John, or how about other clueless ‘specialists’ over at the CIA who in the 1950s said no thanks to an offer to meet with an up and coming cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini because they didnt think he’d amount to anything, per Dr James Bill’s book “the Eagle and the Lion”??

      I havent seen the film but if embassy staff were ‘surprised’ there was a revolution going on outside the gates, probably that’s because Secretary of State Kissinger had the careers terminated in retaliation of those FSO’s who had the backbone and brains to cable State warning of deep upheaval in country

      04/8/13 12:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Nice to see The Masters finally let the help play a round, and Rice-erroni wasn’t too troubled by North Korea’s threat of the “mushroom cloud-smoking gun.”

      04/8/13 1:08 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Why doesn’t Chelsea Clinton volunteer to replace Anne in Afghanistan?

      Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton wants to make a “meaningful” impact on the country.

      “Right now, I’m grateful to live in a city and a state and a country where I strongly support my mayor, my governor, my president and my senators and my representative,” Clinton, who lives in New York City, said on NBC’s “Today.” “If at some point that weren’t true and I thought I could make a meaningful and measurably greater impact, you know, I’d have to ask and answer that question.”

      There’s an opening in Afghanistan, Chelsea. But that would mean giving up that incredible view from her $10,000,000 apartment.

      04/8/13 2:02 PM | Comment Link

    • RIP Anne Smedinghoff: Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. | Diplopundit said...


      […] We Meant Well: Dear Secretary Kerry (On the Death of Anne Smedinghoff) […]

      04/8/13 6:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      In case anyone is still puzzled, why would he or she expect more than the most anondyne of statements from this man, who has done nothing since his “last man” remarks over 40 years ago to challenge the “system.” Stephen Zunes nailed him here:


      And let us note that Biden, Clinton, Kerry, all voted for the Iraq War and then lied about it, but that did not keep them from being part of our “I’m against the Iraq War” president’s team.

      04/9/13 1:38 AM | Comment Link

    • farid said...


      like Anna Us army , there in Afghanistan every day 10 or more than 10 ladies killing by Taliban in Afghanistan, but, noone says why?

      04/10/13 3:55 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      LOST on a Mission Impossible: Benghazi the Sequel.

      04/11/13 1:33 PM | Comment Link

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