As new horrors unfold in Iraq, top U.S. policymakers continue to ignore or disparage the warnings of dissenters and whistleblowers.
Three former State Department officials — Ann Wright, Matthew Hoh and Peter Van Buren — are among those who continue to speak out against ongoing U.S. policies in Iraq. All three are on the advisory board of a new organization for whistleblowing and independent journalism, ExposeFacts.org, part of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
ANN WRIGHT, microann at yahoo.com
Wright is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves, and a former State Department official. She said today: “Eleven years ago, I resigned as a U.S. diplomat in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. In a book I co-authored, Dissent: Voices of Conscience, I chronicle dozens of women and men of the U.S. government and other governments who shared my deep concerns about the illegality and immorality of that war of choice. These whistleblowers and dissenters ended up losing their jobs or going to jail, but already history has shown they were right and those who orchestrated the war were wrong. The truth about U.S. foreign policies does not always rest with those who make those policies, but instead with those who are courageous enough to challenge them.”
MATTHEW HOH, mphoh at ciponline.org
Hoh, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and on U.S. Embassy teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was subsequently appointed Senior Civilian Representative of the U.S. government for Zabul Province in Afghanistan. Five months into his year-long contract in 2009, Hoh resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Hoh was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010.
Hoh said today: “This civil war in Iraq is a war caused by our invasion and nearly decade-long occupation, no doubt, but it is a war that will only worsen if the United States once again returns and takes a side.”
He added: “American military involvement will serve as an accelerant to and a prolonger of this Iraqi civil war. American bombs, bullets and dollars will further strengthen the bond between Sunnis and extremist groups like ISIS, increasing Sunni desperation by intensifying their backs-to-the-wall dilemma and justifying the propaganda and rhetoric of ISIS: a narrative of a Western campaign of international subjugation enacted through Shia, Kurdish and Iraqi ethnic minority puppets.
“Further, such American support will strengthen the resolve of the al-Maliki government not to reform and not to address Sunni grievances. With the renewed backing of American might and money, al-Maliki’s government will feel no need to restore a balance of power in Iraq and will continue a policy of disenfranchisement and marginalization of the Sunni population and leadership. Only by withholding support to al-Maliki’s government, and not by sending advisors, tomahawk missiles or cash, will there be a reason for al-Maliki’s government to negotiate and seek peace.”
Last week, Hoh wrote the piece “Bombs Are Medication for Guilt, Not Peace, in Iraq.” He appeared on HuffPost Live in a segment titled “New Website Encourages Government Workers to Blow the Whistle,” discussing his involvement and support for ExposeFacts.org.
PETER VAN BUREN, info at wemeantwell.com, @wemeantwell, wemeantwell.com
Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Following his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the Department of State began proceedings against him. The book, published in 2011, called out the State Department for failing to address the root problems in Iraq, both the Sunni-Shia tribal/political/religious divides as well as the failed civil and municipal infrastructures that underlay widespread discontent with the Iraqi government.
Instead of reviewing Van Buren’s arguments, the State Department sought to prosecute him as a whistleblower, until the intercession of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU allowed Van Buren to depart his 24 years of government service on his own terms.
Last week, Van Buren appeared on the nationwide public radio program “To The Point” to discuss “Government Secrecy and the People’s Right to Know,” along with Norman Solomon. Newsweek reported on ExposeFacts with an extensive article, “The Website That Wants the Next Snowden to Leak.”
NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, www.normansolomon.com
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of a dozen books on media and public policy, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is on the editorial board of ExposeFacts.org. Solomon said today: “The ongoing disaster in Iraq is continuously worsened by overall U.S. government suppression of whistleblowing in favor of enabling the latest ‘best and brightest’ in Washington to keep calling the shots.”