Former Ambassador to Iraq, Edward L. Peck spoke at South Dakota State University on issues concerning Iraq and the Middle East.
Peck came to SDSU on behalf of the University Diversity Program and the World Affairs Council of America, a program designed to educate Americans in world affairs. Peck spoke on Mon., Feb. 2 in the Volstroff Ballroom to students, faculty, and members of the Brookings community.
A native of California, Peck graduated from the University of California-Los Angles. He served in the military as a paratrooper and as a diplomat for the United States for 32 years. In that time, he worked in the embassies of several countries including Egypt, Marco, and Algeria.
He was the envoy to Iraq during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and was the director of President Ronald Reagan’s task force on terrorism. He was also the liaison officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, he is fluent in Spanish, Arabic, French and Swedish.
After living in Iraq for two and half years, Peck knows quite a bit about the country. He spoke of how the Iraqis do not want American troops in their country. He said that of course the Iraqi civilians are going to say they like having America in Iraq to soldiers with artillery and journalists shoving cameras in their face.
However, they really don’t like America’s occupation in their country, he said.
“In living memory, the Iraqis know what an occupation is. They have been there, done that. When America came, they felt invaded,” he said.
He also said he believes America being in Iraq is a big mistake and he knew it was wrong from the beginning.
“Our nation is on a path I think that is misguided,” Peck said. “I didn’t want to be right about Iraq, but I was.”
The United States has lost a lot of things when it went to war with Iraq, Peck said. One of the biggest is credibility, something that can’t be retained easily.
He also stated he believes things could go badly for United States.
“Credibility like virtue is not lost temporarily,” he said. “Bad things will happen to us because we are killing people who never ever did anything to us.”
One thing the United States did wrong with Iraq he said was not having any communication.
“We haven’t talked to Iraq in 12 years on any level, on any issue,” Peck said.
Peck also believes the United States is making poor decisions about the Middle East.
There are other ways to go about maintaining peace in the Middle East, he said. He believes that it would be easier to bring peace to Israel first instead of bringing peace to Israel’s surrounding countries.
“But in this country you’re not allowed to talk about this,” he said.
The press often talks about the United States winning the war on terrorism, but Peck questions that. He believes that the end is not clear.
“How do you know when you win?,” he said. “Nothing in foreign affairs has an end. You do no know what the final end is.”
However, Peck still stands by his country.
“I do not take a back seat to anyone in patriotism,” he said.