For Brown, it was in September 2002, when Bush chief of staff Andrew Card uttered the infamous words, "you don't introduce new products in the summer." "That was a defining moment because I realized that these are parochial people. They're selling us a war, selling us a product for domestic purposes so W. can be Mr. Commander-in-Chief and on that we can win congressional elections," Brown says. "And that's when I said it stinks."
Kiesling is not a pacifist. When the Balkans were imploding in 1992, he says, "it was clear to me that our policy of just pious bleating in favor of peace and unity was not going to do anything, and if we wanted to save lives there the international community would have to be prepared with an incredible threat of force." He and a group of colleagues wrote a memorandum of dissent to the department urging U.S. military action. But then came 2002, and Kiesling, who had begun his foreign service career under Reagan as an analyst, was offended by the connection drawn between Sept. 11 and Iraq. "If there had been any connection at all, we would have trumpeted it from the rooftops," Kiesling said.
Wright arrived at her decision in January 2002, while watching President George W. Bush's State of the Union address on television in Kabul. Wright was sharing a two-room bunker with the four other diplomats assigned to the bare-bones U.S. embassy in Afghanistan (and, surely not pleasantly, sharing one toilet and one shower with 100 Marines) when Bush announced to the world that Iraq, Iran and North Korea had hereby been designated an "axis of evil."
Wright recalls: "We looked at each other and said, 'What? Why are they doing this now?'" Over the next 14 months she watched, dismayed, while 130,000 troops amassed in Kuwait even as the Bush administration ignored Israel and Palestine, refused talks with North Korea and imposed what she considered the "unnecessary curtailment" of civil liberties under the Patriot Act.
All three fear the war's effects on America's image abroad. "Americans have been considered vulgar, badly brought up, we don't know how to use knives and forks properly, we wear shirts that are too colorful?you name it," Brown says. "But nevertheless we didn't shoot first. And with this catastrophe in Iraq we shot first. Basically, we were the good guys and we're no longer the good guys."
The loud, vulgar adolescent behavior characteristic of many Americans is really just a minor nuisance, unless it's backed up with weapons systems, 200 billion dollars, and a bogus ideology that focuses on imaginary WMDs and missile defense instead of tangible threats. That's the point at which certain wealthy, barely literate graduates of Yale and Harvard and their corporate cabalist buddies become villains.
If only the French would invade the USA and save us from this evil regime.