I served my country for 29 years in the U.S. Army/ Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. I also served 16 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. I resigned from the U.S. government 13 years ago in March 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s regime change war on Iraq.
Since my resignation I have traveled to many countries where the U.S. government did not want me to go – to Cuba, Iran, Gaza, Yemen, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia and back to Afghanistan. I didn’t agree with many of the policies of the governments in power in those countries. But, I wanted to see the effects of policies of our government, in particular the effects of attempts of regime change. I wanted to talk with citizens and government officials about the effects of U.S. sanctions on them and whether those sanctions lessened their support for the government the U.S. was attempting to change or overthrow by non-military means.
For making those trips, I have been criticized strongly. I have been called an apologist for the governments in power. Critics have said that my trip has given legitimacy to the abuses of the government. And I have been called a traitor to the United States to dare question or challenge its policy of regime change.
I am not an apologist, nor a traitor … nor is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her recent trip to Syria and meeting with Syrian President Assad.
It is important that we have representatives in our government who will go to countries where the United States is either killing citizens directly by U.S. intervention or indirectly by support of militia groups or by sanctions.
We need representatives to sift through our government and media reports to find out for themselves the truth, the shades of truth and the untruths.
We need representatives to be willing to take the heat from both their fellow members of Congress and from the media pundits who will not go to those areas and talk with those directly affected by U.S. actions.
We need representatives who will be our eyes and ears to go to places where most citizens can not go.
Tulsi Gabbard is not the first international observer to come back with an assessment about the tragic effects of U.S. support for lethal regime change in Syria. Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire began traveling to Syria three years ago and now having made three trips to Syria – and came back with the same comments – that U.S. support for regime change of the secular government of Syria would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousand of Syrians, the resulting mass migration of millions who are fleeing the carnage of the destruction of the country and the possibility of an extremist religious based group taking power.
U.S. support for regime change in Syria by rebel groups it supports or by ISIS, al-Qaeda, al Nursa, groups that are funded by U.S. allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey but ironically that the U.S. is battling in Iraq and Afghanistan – has shown clearly several of the major dangers of international regime change, that groups even worse than the regime being overthrown may come to power.
The possibility of a group imposing perverted extremist religious views on the secular state of Syria is high due to international meddling in the internal affairs of Syria. It has also shown that allies will come to the defense of their friends as the international war in Syria expanded and the deaths of civilians increased as Russia came to the aid of its ally Syria.
During the Obama administration, Congresswoman Gabbard spoke critically of the U.S. propensity to attempt regime change and its resulting chaos and loss of civilian life. On Dec. 8, 2016, she introduced a bill entitled the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” which would prohibit the U.S. government from using U.S. funds to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those groups.
Now in the first days of the Trump administration she traveled to Syria to see the effects of attempted regime change and offer a solution to reduce the deaths of civilians and the end of the war in Syria. A national organization Veterans For Peace, to which I belong, has endorsed Congresswoman Gabbard’s trip to Syria as a step toward resolution to the Syrian conflict.
The congresswoman is a brave person willing to take the criticism for challenging U.S. policies that she believes are wrong. I am proud to have her as one of our Congress persons from Hawaii and I urge her to continue to search for the truth about the effect of U.S. government policies.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. Reprinted from Civil Beat News with permission.