Attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead reminded retired Army Col. Ann Wright of dangerous situations she encountered while serving overseas for the U.S. State Department.
Decisions by the federal government to keep embassies open during conflict – which Wright called questionable – put civilian diplomats in harm’s way, she said Monday while speaking at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
She delivered two lectures: one at USC Aiken and a second at the Augusta library headquarters. The events were sponsored by the CSRA Peace Alliance and Aiken Peace.
“I believe we as citizens really do need to challenge what our government is doing,” she said in Aiken. “Look at it from the international viewpoint, as what the world sees the United States is doing.”
The 29-year Army and Army Reserve veteran and former diplomat is an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. She resigned from the State Department on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq after writing a letter of dissent to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Wright said Baghdad was a modern Middle East city that was unjustly invaded. The war left an unstable, fractionalized country in its aftermath, she said.
“Saddam Hussein is not there, and that’s probably a good thing, but if you look at the life of the people of Iraq, I would say our invasion did not result in anything the Iraqi people wanted,” Wright said.
Wright said she received hundreds of letters from government colleagues supporting her decision to resign and oppose the war. She said she had some disagreements on military policy with all eight presidents she served, but Iraq was a breaking point.
“At a certain point, many of us say, ‘Wait a minute.’ There might be some other ways we should be protecting our nation,” she said.