A senior diplomat serving at the US Embassy in Athens has resigned, in the first such protest against President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy. John Brady Kiesling, who had been in the foreign service for about 20 years, was the political counselor in Athens. He had also served in Tel Aviv, Casablanca and Yerevan. In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, excerpts of which were published by The New York Times yesterday, Kiesling wrote, «Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson.» The paper said a friend of Kiesling’s had provided a copy of his letter. «We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary. We have over the past two years done too much to assert to our world partners that narrow and mercenary US interests override the cherished values of our partners,» it said. «Even where our aims were not in question, our consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests.» Kiesling, 45, was still in Greece but was not at his office and not available for comment. «He has resigned for personal reasons,» an embassy spokeswoman said. Kiesling told the paper that he faxed his letter of resignation to Powell on Monday, after informing Ambassador Thomas Miller of his decision.