Retired Colonel Opposes Iraq War

15 December 2005 - 6:15pm

Ann Wrigt at Global Good Neighbor Initiative at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Advocates Hawai'i's Wave Energy to Replace Petroleum
by Sheperd Bliss on 15 December 2005 in Hawaii Journal

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright, 59, was among the more than 3,000 environmentalists attending the conference of "biological pioneers" at the 16th Annual Bioneers Conference north of San Francisco in October. Wright was in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for nearly 30 years and had served the diplomatic corps for 16 years, some of that time overlapping.

"I served my country for 35 years in the federal government under seven administrations," Wright said. "I wrote a letter of dissent regarding the Iraq War and sent it through the Department of State channels. Then I resigned."

Wright was a diplomat serving as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia at the time of her resignation. Her awards include the State Department's Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 persons from a civil war in Sierra Leone.

In Wright's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, she wrote, "I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on (U.S.) policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them."

"The Iraq War hit the depths of my soul," she told the Journal. "I felt it in the pit of my stomach. Going into an oil-rich Arab country, without United Nations authorization, in a region where people hate us, was big trouble. The invasion was a recipe for disaster."

Col. Wright served in various hotspots, including Somalia, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone. In December of 2001 she helped re-open the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, which had been closed for 12 years. "We were not fighting Al Quaeda or the Taliban in Afghanistan," explained Wright. "We were paying warlords to do that. We paid the same warlords who had been destroying that country."

In March, 2003, Wright returned to Hawai'i, where she had once lived, and settled in Honolulu. However, she still spends substantial time on the Mainland and in travels elsewhere. In August she was the commandant of anti-war mother Cindy Sheehan's Camp Casey outside President Bush's Texas ranch. Wright "spent 26 days in the ditches of Crawford, Texas, and spoke for 20 days on the southern leg of the 'Bring Them Home Now' tour."

After the Bioneers Conference she went to Washington, D.C., again, to further confront members of the Bush administration on the Iraq War. She explained that a growing number of current and former members of the military and the diplomatic corps oppose America's current foreign policy in Iraq.

"Since I gave up my career, until the Iraq War is done, this is my life's work. I want to stop the murder by my country. Then we can regain respect for our country and let people get back to their lives without war," Wright said.

Wright is a popular speaker to classes and civic groups, and her article "Women Ambassadors" appeared in the October, 2005, issue of the Foreign Service Journal. The International Relations Center awarded her a Global Good Neighbor commendation in October. The IRC (a New Mexico-based NGO established in 1979) focuses on "people-centered policy alternatives." According to its website, the group is "inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's vision of international relations guided by mutual respect and cooperation."

"Hawai'i has become a destination for dissenters," explained Wright, indicating why she moved back to the islands. An ocean lover, she is concerned about how climate change is impacting the Pacific islands and the world, one of the topics at the Bioneers conference.

"The destruction of large portions of the unique Hawaiian Islands by rising sea levels due to global warming concerns me," she said. "I lived in some of the smaller Micronesian islands, which will go under sooner. Scientific studies in the last six months leave no doubt that the planet is in a dangerous condition due to global warming.".

On the previous day, Col. Wright had listened to Bill McKibben, author of the ground-breaking book The End of Nature, talk about "Global Warming: A Climate of Fear and Opportunity."

"We see the melting of the polar caps and glaciers and the increased strength of hurricanes," she noted. "We have adequate evidence that Mother Nature is telling us that humans have done serious damage to the planet. We need immediate action."
She believes that Hawai'i shouldn't need import petroleum products. "Between solar, wind and wave energy we could provide electricity. HECO will become a dinosaur, unless it plunges into the alternative grid, rather than burn fossil fuels."

As the Earth faces an energy decline due to the peaking of oil prices, Wright advocates harnessing the ocean's wave energy. She described a recent Department of Defense grant to a marine base in Hawai'i to do a wave energy project. Wave hydraulic mechanisms may be put in soon, allowing waves to push pistons to create electricity.

"Hawai'i has consistent wave energy. The systems used in Scotland, Canada, and Australia are environmentally sensitive and produce electricity. They are self-contained systems with no pollution," Wright contended.

Wright indicated she learned a lot at the Bioneers Conference that can be applied to Hawai'i.

"Here at Bioneers, I have learned how Los Angeles and Seattle work on water catchment systems so that the water does not get into the ocean but is reclaimed, re-processed and used. Hawai'i needs to look at how we suffer from water run-off and sewage spillage during storms," she said.

Wright also believes that Hawai'i needs population control.

"We are maximizing on the number of people we have," she told the Journal. I do not think the land can support many more people. We should not concrete it over more. All the building of houses and construction brings more pollution into the ocean."

see also
Highter Ground: Mary Ann Wright profile

and see Ocean Waves: a serious contender