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"U.S. official resigns over Afghan war

Published:

"U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting


By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

The reaction to Hoh's letter was immediate. Senior U.S. officials, concerned that they would lose an outstanding officer and perhaps gain a prominent critic, appealed to him to stay.

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry brought him to Kabul and offered him a job on his senior embassy staff. Hoh declined. From there, he was flown home for a face-to-face meeting with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We took his letter very seriously, because he was a good officer," Holbrooke said in an interview. "We all thought that given how serious his letter was, how much commitment there was, and his prior track record, we should pay close attention to him."

While he did not share Hoh's view that the war "wasn't worth the fight," Holbrooke said, "I agreed with much of his analysis." He asked Hoh to join his team in Washington, saying that "if he really wanted to affect policy and help reduce the cost of the war on lives and treasure," why not be "inside the building, rather than outside, where you can get a lot of attention but you won't have the same political impact?"

Hoh accepted the argument and the job, but changed his mind a week later. "I recognize the career implications, but it wasn't the right thing to do," he said in an interview Friday, two days after his resignation became final.

"I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love," Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the "second-best job I've ever had," his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.

"There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed," he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys."

But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there -- a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war. .........."

Continued on pages 2 & 3

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102603394.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009102603447

Entry #1,490

Comments

1.
Rick GComment by Rick G - October 27, 2009, 11:09 am
Kudos to Mr. Hoh. Many of us agree with him. This is a war for pipelines and poppies. The US govt. invasions, occupation, torture and murder of brown people is the number one terrorist recruiter. We are creating an enemy to sustain a war machine. A state of perpetual war is the road to even more riches for the PTB who start the wars so they can finance the wars and collect the interest on the massive debt created by the wars. Simple scam, actually.

2.
Comment by jim695 - October 27, 2009, 12:20 pm
... why not be "inside the building, rather than outside, where you can get a lot of attention but you won't have the same political impact?"

     A very telling statement, and one which identifies the biggest problem we have with Washington. Those of us who are "outside the building" are viewed as outsiders who have no business sticking our noses into our government's business. We can make noise about it but, at the end of the day, the alarms we raise have virtually no political impact on any level of government. Until we change that, the status quo will remain the same; things will get better for those on the "inside" as they consolidate and increase their nefarious power, but it will come at a very heavy cost to the average citizen. To that end, things will get much worse for us, as we'll soon find ourselves completely at their mercy.

     We can tell ourselves that we'll just vote them out of office, but congress has seen to it that we no longer have that option. They've essentially made it legal for powerful political lobbies to buy the votes of electoral delegates, thereby silencing any voice the American people once had in the political process. With the fairly recent emergence of the "superdelegate," whose vote can be worth tens of thousands of ours, we can no longer rely on fair elections to produce the popular choice for any national political office. Superdelegates have the option of "voting their conscience," which means that they can virtually ignore our choices for federal electees. The same practice is now beginning to infect state-level government as well.

     Personally, I applaud Mr. Hoh's willingness to take a stand for honor and integrity, but I'll be very surprised if he's not eventually vilified and labeled a traitor. The war in Afghanistan is now completely devoid of any purpose or national benefit to the United States; we have absolutely nothing to gain by our current occupation of a nation which has historically resisted all attacks from foreign armies. Alexander couldn't conquer them; Hannibal couldn't conquer them; even the mighty Roman Empire couldn't conquer Afghanistan, and they tried harder and more often than anyone before finally deciding to leave them alone. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are now, at best, a minimal threat to the Western world, and our continued presence in Afghanistan is doing little, if anything, to further minimize their current operations. At a cost to U. S. taxpayers of over a billion dollars a month, I'd think we could find better uses for that money. This war isn't even creating jobs here, since we now outsource most of our weapons manufacturing, so the only conceivable reasons to continue the conflict must be entirely political.

     "To the victor go the spoils," as the saying goes, but this is a war we can't win, and one which gains us virtually nothing, even in the extremely unlikely event we're eventually able to declare a "political victory." Big deal ...

     Jim
3.
konaneComment by konane - October 27, 2009, 2:12 pm
Thanks Rick! Attritional depopulation is a lesser mentioned aspects of the globalist war machine. Our kids die as their bank accounts grow fatter.
4.
Rick GComment by Rick G - October 27, 2009, 2:15 pm
One addition to Jim's excellent comment, the Soviet Union spent 8 years with 500,000 troops trying to overcome Afghanistan and they threw in the towel as well.

We will not win there but that's obviously not the objective. I would venture to say, the opium market is the single biggest reason we're there. Illegal drug money is what finances all the other crimes and black ops around the world. The Taliban had opium production down 95% during their stint as chiefs. Now there are bumper crops harvested and distributed out of the country. What does that say about our mission and the faux "drug war" in general? The "drug war" and "war on terror" are simply scams and Afghanistan just happens to be the current host to these parasites.
5.
konaneComment by konane - October 27, 2009, 2:20 pm
Thanks Jim! Comments on point as always. We've been softened up for a long time that people simply believe that's the way it is. I hope your assessment is wrong, and am confident you hope so too.
6.
konaneComment by konane - October 27, 2009, 2:26 pm
Thanks Rick! Think you nailed it.

@... Jim, you're correct that Afghanistan has no benefit to the US but apparently putting money in many pockets or we'd be out as Obama promised before the election. I think campaign promises fall into the same category of "the check's in the mail', "I'll respect you in the morning" .........
7.
TigerAngelComment by TigerAngel - October 29, 2009, 4:29 pm
Join the Army.
Travel to far-away-lands.
Meet exotic people
And kill them.
8.
konaneComment by konane - November 3, 2009, 11:05 am
Thanks TigerAngel! Visualize a world in which there is no war.

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