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Retired U.S. Army Colonel, U.S. diplomat Wright to speak in Juneau

Posted: Sunday, May 10, 2009

JUNEAU - Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat for the State Department, will travel to Alaska to speak about American relations with the countries and people of the Middle East. Wright's speaking tour is being sponsored by local organizers from five communities. The Juneau People for Peace and Justice, University of Alaska Southeast, Veterans for Peace Chapter 100 and Northern Light United Church are sponsoring her visit to Juneau.

Wright will present "Can Obama REALLY Change U.S. Foreign Policy?: Exploring the U.S. responsibility in the Middle East" at 7 p.m. May 15 at the University of Alaska Southeast Egan Lecture Hall.

On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wright resigned in protest as Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. embassy in Mongolia.

"Leaders of moderate Moslem/Arab countries warn us about predicable outrage and anger of the youth of their countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose of attacking Moslems/Arabs, not defending them," Wright wrote in her cable to cable to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Such warnings were ignored, and the invasion of Iraq seriously undermined respect and trust for our government in the Middle East. The region remains captive to acts of terrotorism and widepsread violence between various Muslim groups, the U.S., and Israel.

Understanding the way the people of the Middle East view America is essential to solving these conflicts and restoring America's image around the world. Wright has extensive diplomatic experience in countries dominated by various sects of the Muslim faith. She was Deputy Chief of Mission in U.S. Embassies in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, and also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. During the past year, she has traveled to Iran and Gaza as citizen diplomat for peace.

Wright spent 13 years in the U.S. Army and 16 additional years in the Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel. She has a master's degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval War College and also taught the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare in U.S. military schools.

In 1997, she received the State Department's Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone. In 2001 she was on the State Department team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. Since her resignation in 2003, she has been a leader of nonviolent protests against the military conflicts in the Middle East and a vocal defender of the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, the freedom of the press and America's beloved civil liberties.

In 2008, she co-authored "DISSENT: Voices of Conscience." From diplomats like herself who resigned in protest, to whistleblowers and opposition in the military, the book documents the stories of government insiders who spoke out against the war in Iraq. It was named the February 2008 Book of the Month by The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.



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