By Peter Bridges, Guest Contributor
Peter Bridges, who has sent the following message to friends and relatives, was born in New Orleans and raised in Chicago. After two years as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army, Bridges entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1957. He served in Washington in the State Department, Treasury Department, and U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency, and overseas at our embassies in Panama, Moscow, Prague, Rome, and finally Mogadishu, where he was the American ambassador to Somalia during the Reagan administration.
Dear Friends and Relations,
A friend and former colleague of mine in the Foreign Service, Kevin McGuire, some time ago drafted a short statement of support for Obama and began to ask retired Foreign Service officers if they would sign it. So far 334 of us have done so, including by my count 66 former American ambassadors.
If you would like to know why we have done so and who we are, you can find our reasons and our signatures at Foreign Policy for Obama.Com: Declaration of Support by Over 280 Former Diplomats. (Ed. note: the number is now over 330.)
If that is too long a link, you can go to Foreign Policy for Obama.Com and click on the link in the left hand column.
I will remind you that the Foreign Service of the United States is our country's career diplomatic and consular service. We staff both the State Department in Washington and our embassies and consulates abroad. Usually two-thirds or more of our ambassadors are Foreign Service officers, although both Democratic and Republican administrations have made a number of ambassadorial appointments for political reasons. Some of these Republican appointees and, by my count, two former career officers, have come out for McCain.
Our Service has sometimes been criticized by Republicans who label us a bunch of liberals. I cannot speak for my former colleagues, but as I said in a recent essay, if we must use labels I want to be considered a liberal conservative. I am a conservative because, among other reasons, I believe in a prudent course for the country, including a conservative fiscal policy and conservation--two old Republican virtues that present-day Republicans have forgotten.
In the Foreign Service we serve the President and the Constitution faithfully--I served under seven Presidents, finally as ambassador to Somalia under President Reagan--and we do our best by our country. We do not speak lightly about national security. Five of my friends and colleagues were killed by terrorists. More American ambassadors have died violent deaths since World War II than our admirals and generals combined. Two other friends and colleagues were kidnapped by terrorists, but survived.
I have backed Obama since I wrote, in early 2007, the review of his second book that I hope you will read at The Cal Review. He is a prudent manager, a professor of constitutional law, and a moral and upright man with sound judgment. I agree with Colin Powell that Obama is fully qualified to be commander in chief. He understands the problems that we face at home and abroad, and he will begin--but it will take years--to resolve them. He has a sturdy and experienced running mate, Joe Biden, whom I have admired greatly since I first met him in 1981.
Obama is running against a man whose chief virtue seems to be that he withstood five years of arduous imprisonment and torture and, since he could not equal the Navy record of his father and grandfather, went into politics after he married a rich wife. McCain has changed his positions as the years have progressed, but he has always supported the super-rich through the years as our society has divided. He is the candidate of a party whose last candidates for President and Vice President were George W. Bush and Richard Cheney--who inherited a budgetary surplus, sent us to war under false pretenses, and ran the country into the ground. McCain has chosen as his running mate and possible successor a woman who backed hundreds of Federal millions for the "bridge to nowhere" before she opposed it (and then kept the money)--whom an independent investigator in Alaska finds guilty of ethics laws in the Troopergate scandal--and who knows so little about our Constitution that she says the Vice President is in charge of the Senate. I will leave it to the Republicans to explain the new report that she spent $150,000 of party funds on clothing and cosmetics.
Barack Obama did not approve this message. It's all mine.
Regards to all--