View from the fray

Shock, awe and unemployment

This week, it’s the View from Over There, in the words of those who’ve recently lost their jobs via Shock and Awe.

Let’s begin with a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell written by Mary Wright, former deputy chief at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia.

“This is the only time in my many years serving America that I have felt I cannot represent the policies of an administration of the United States,” Wright said. “I believe the administration’s policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place.”

Wright was one of three ambassadors who’ve resigned in the past two months. The first to quit was John Brady Kiesling, former political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Athens: “The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon.”

Then came John H. Brown, former cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: “The president’s disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century.”

You can’t dismiss the above as the blathering nonsense of leftist mules. These are patriotic U.S. leaders who, until a few weeks ago, faithfully served our county abroad.

Not voluntarily resigning last week was Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Peter Arnett.

MSNBC gave Arnett the boot Monday after Arnett gave a short, impromptu interview to Iraqi TV. Arnett awed Iraqis with the news that that the U.S. war plan hadn’t gone as planned and that U.S.-led forces were regrouping. No big surprise, right? Wrong.

This isn’t a first for Arnett. In 1998, as a CNN reporter, Arnett exposed the military’s use of nerve gas on American defectors during the Vietnam War. CNN retracted the story without letting Arnett or producers Jack Smith and April Oliver defend their work. Smith and Oliver were fired; Arnett’s contract was not renewed.

Arnett’s testicular fortitude is legendary. Besides sitting through the bombing of Baghdad during Desert Storm, he reported on stuff like the U.S. bombing of an Iraqi factory that produced infant milk formula. The Pentagon was pissed—though Arnett could produce samples of powdered milk and teams from the international community corroborated the report.

Arnett also got in trouble for interviewing Hussein.

“It has been suggested that by allowing this leader of an enemy country to actually appear on international television, he was getting a message across that could be detrimental,” Arnett said during a 1991 lecture at Stanford University. “I mean, the world had decided to dump on him, so why let him have his say?”

Last week, I quoted Paul Steiger, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, who spoke at UNR.

“The role of journalists in our society is to find the truth and communicate it,” he said. “Even if the truth is relatively unpleasant, it’s still the truth, and people need to know it so they can make better decisions.”

I was momentarily refreshed by Steiger’s lack of cynicism.

Now I’m just wondering what kind of jobs are out there for unemployed ambassadors and Pulitzer-winning journalists.