Army Colonel, Foreign Diplomat, Anti-war Activist, Peace Advocate, (1946— )
Patriotism can manifest in many forms, and has for Mary Ann Wright. She has been a career military woman, a State Department diplomat, and for the past few years an influential spokesperson in the anti-war movement. Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she holds a Master’s and a Law Degree. She also has a Master’s Degree in National Security Affairs from the US Naval War College. In her junior year at the University of Arkansas, she attended a three-week Army training program after meeting with a visiting Army recruiter. That experience helped inform her decision to join the service.
There she would remain for 13 years in active duty, with another 16 years in the Army reserves, retiring as a Colonel. Ironically, part of her work was special operations in civil affairs, in the event of troop invasions into countries like Iraq. Ann helped to develop, as she explained, “plans about how you interact with the civilian population, how you protect the facilities—sewage, water, electrical grids, libraries… It’s our obligation under the law of land warfare.” Ann requested a release from active duty from the Army and joined the State Department. For the next 16 years, she served as a foreign diplomat in countries such as Nicaragua, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Sierra Leone. She was on the team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001, after the fall of the Taliban to US forces.
In all those years, Ann Wright was proud of her representation of America. However, on March 13, 2003, the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, Col.. Ann Wright sent a letter of resignation to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. She felt that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the US invasion and occupation of a Moslem, Arab oil-rich country would be a disaster. Only two other State Department officials resigned at that time over the imminent invasion. In an interview, Ann explained that, in Foreign Service, “Your job is to implement the policies of an administration… if you strongly disagree with any administration’s policies, and wish to speak out, your only option is to resign. I understood that and that’s one of the reasons I resigned—to give myself the freedom to talk out.”
Talk out she has. Since resigning, patriotism for Ann Wright has been as an anti-war activist. She worked with Cindy Sheehan organizing Camp Casey, and appeared in the documentary “Uncovered: The Truth About the Iraq War”. She travels and lectures on foreign policy issues. She has been arrested five times in the past year for protesting Bush’s policies, and has referred to herself cheerfully as a “felon for peace”. This retired Army Colonel has also recently been temporarily banned not only from two military bases for placing postcards there about a showing of the documentary “Sir, No Sir”, but from the US Capitol area (her case is still pending), and the National Press Club (this a lifetime ban), for voicing opinions and questions concerning Bush’s policies and the Iraq war.