About Kael

A native Utahn, Kael Weston served for over a decade in the U.S. State Department, including seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the author of the book, The Mirror Test (Knopf, 2016) a New York Times Editors’ Choice (NYT Book Review) and Military Times’ Best Book of the Year. He has taught at the college level in Utah and in Quantico, Virginia, at Marine Corps University, as well as leading seminars at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Weston writes monthly for the Salt Lake Tribune and has contributed to NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Daily Beast, and other publications.

For Weston’s multi-year service in Fallujah, Iraq, the State Department awarded him the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism.

Education: University of Utah, B.A.; Cambridge University, M.Phil.; Fulbright Scholarship, Amsterdam School of International Relations, University of Amsterdam; Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, London School of Economics.

More about Kael

JKWeston.com, book-focused website

Interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. “‘Mirror Test’ Reflects On The Consequences Of The Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan,” May 25, 2016.

“Reflecting on War: Alum Kael Weston, a former State Department official, examines the human costs of conflict” by Elaine Jarvik, University of Utah Continuum Magazine, Fall 2017.

“No Way Out for Iraqis Who Helped U.S. in War” by Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2014.

“The first emails from Iraq landed in John Kael Weston’s inbox while he was eating breakfast at a Utah ski resort. Islamic Statefighters had just seized Fallujah, and the former State Department diplomat fired off a worried message to the Iraqi policeman who helped him over and over again during the war’s darkest days. 

“‘Are you and your father and family ok?’ Mr. Weston asked Saad Abu Fahad. The American and Iraqi were neighbors in Fallujah, taught each other about their country’s politics and always stayed in touch by email.”

“Taliban Resistance Stalls New Rule in Marjah” by Michael M. Phillips and Alan Cullison, Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2010.

“The Taliban grenade that whizzed overhead was John Kael Weston’s first indication that this town might not be ready for an influx of diplomats, agriculturalists and economic-development specialists.

“The U.S. State Department official visited Marjah on Friday to see whether the week-old allied military offensive had made enough progress to allow the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government to launch their main mission: Reintroducing Afghan civilian rule to a town that has been under Taliban control. . . .”

Kael’s articles

Read More

Kael’s guiding values are Better Neighbors and Country over Party.

Kael’s rural family roots in central Utah’s Milford Valley run deep. See a few family photos from 100+ years ago.

Donkeys in the Desert was the chapter of Democrats Abroad that Kael founded when he was stationed in Iraq. Read more about why Kael believes in Democratic values.

Kael Weston