Theodore's World: U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War

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October 28, 2009

U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war

The Washington Post ...for complete article

Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting

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.

As the White House deliberates over whether to deploy more troops, Hoh said he decided to speak out publicly because "I want people in Iowa, people in Arkansas, people in Arizona, to call their congressman and say, 'Listen, I don't think this is right.' "

"I realize what I'm getting into . . . what people are going to say about me," he said. "I never thought I would be doing this."

~ snipet ~

This week, Hoh is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden's foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken, at Blinken's invitation.

If the United States is to remain in Afghanistan, Hoh said, he would advise a reduction in combat forces.
He also would suggest providing more support for Pakistan, better U.S. communication and propaganda skills to match those of al-Qaeda, and more pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to clean up government corruption -- all options being discussed in White House deliberations.
"We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath," Hoh said. "But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve."


Wild Thing's comment........

Matt Hoh is an American Hero.

I remember hearing Mike Yon report on him from Iraq. This guy is the real deal .

Far be it from me to try to explain this man’s reasons.He has been through enough and from the full article he had or maybe still does sleepless nights and other things. Perhaps he sees that Obama isn’t in it to win ( as Obama has stated very clearly in the past ) and he (Hoh) recognizes that, why stick around for the blood bath, literally and politically? There is that too of course. I might be wrong but it seems Hoh is upset with the administration’s lack of purpose and strategy. I think he’s saying, in essence, “It’s clear Obama doesn’t think this job is worth doing well, so what am I doing here?”

“but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”

I do have to say however, that Hoh's saying the war effort is fueling the insurgency is misguided. We assisted the mujahedeen against Russia. the Afghanis should have handed us Osama Bin Laden on a platter as a well deserved favor between allies. Instead we were repaid by 9-11.

As long as there are non Muslims ( all of us ) on this planet the jihadis will be either financing or participating in bloodshed against us. We fight them now or we’ll end up fighting them later. Either way, war is inevitable. apathy, inaction & appeasement will very likely make the confrontation worse.

" joined the State Department after leaving the military and was a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan"

I keep wondering why no one mentions why we went to Afghanistan in the first place.It was called Operation Enduring Freedom and it began on October 7th of 2001. We sent troops to Afghanistan to go after the terrorists after 9-11.

I may be wrong but it was after Iraq and the surge there when troops were taken from Iraq and sent to Afghanistan that all of a sudden it changed to how can we help these people, how can we bring them democracy etc. While at the same time going after terrorists.

I don’t think we’ve put the effort into Afghanistan that we did in Iraq. The Iraqis did man up once they knew we weren’t going to cut and run. The populace isn’t convinced we’ll stick it out, so they’re reticent to stick their necks out.

The Taliban are not stupid they hate and are all about death and destruction but stupid is not one of them. They and the citizens of Afghanistan many of them anyway must be aware as well of what Obama is about and the difference in Obama and Bush.

Could it have anything to do with the mighty Obama's reversal of prior agreements with Poland re missile defense? Or with his not sticking by Israel in the face of the threats they're receiving? Or, his snubbing of our other allies, such as Great Brittain? Or, with his appeasement approach to Iran? Or his desires to have negotiations with the Taliban?

Or, might it have more to do with his lack of resolve in not following through with his campaign statements that the war in Afghanistan is just and must be prosectuted?

The list of backpedaling on agreements with our allies and formation of new relationships with our enemies goes on and on and on.

If we do a surge in Afghanistan and drop the damn R.O.E.'S and get back to KILLING the enemy, I believe the area can be stabilized and the citizens lives improved.

If we are not going to do the surge then get the hell out of dodge. Because the only reason we would stay would be for political purposes and the intentional murder by Obama of our troops. We have GOT to be in it to WIN and take no prisoner attitude and actions. Make Chesty proud for God's sake instead of sheep at the slaughter that has been gonig on since Obama brain dead as a CIC took over.

If we did pull out, I believe Iraq will take the brunt of it. And then Afghanistan will fall and Iraq will be next.

I think it is imperative we clean up Afghanistan. Otherwise we’ll eventually pay for not having done so.

Obama has is no strategy. Obama has yet to publish a strategy for Afghanistan. Obama has yet to publish the National Security Strategy for the United States.

He has no clue.

Bascially now in Afghanistan, our troops are told to sit and be quite as to wait and be fired upon. The ROE's were changed as soon as Obama sort of took the oath. Up to that election, our troops in Afghanistan were much safer and taking out a lot of terrorists.

Dying to achieve a win over the terrorists goal and to secure our Nation is bad enough. Not one member of the military should die when there is no goal. It sickens me because I really believe in our military and I believe we CAN win and we can keep our troops a hell of a lot safer if ONLY Obama would go back to Bush's R.O.E.'S. and also do a surge.

Please read Michael Yon’s “Adopt-a-stan” post at his website Definitely a realistic view on what is goin on there. Considering all the civil action projects, I don’t think it’s necessarily feeding the insurgency. If anything, lack of reliability by policymakers, in the form of scant Allied presence, gives locals pause for thought. Marines have won over locals in northern Helmand province in relatively short time (2 or 3 years).

When Bush warned of a war spanning a generation, he was more accurate than most gave him credit for. Keep in mind the Islamists have been planning the reconquest of Europe since the Versaille Treaty of 1919. This event was a watershed because it turned liberated Ottoman Empire territory into a collection of virtual colonies of European powers.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is as relevant now as it was a thousand years ago. To some extent, al Qaeda took some lessons from the godless Mao, who employed a strategy of taking land away from Nationalist Chinese forces by winning over the local contryside populace through coercion or force.

COIN operations in Malaya proved Mao’s strategy could be defeated.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at October 28, 2009 07:48 AM


Chrissie, your comment is exactly my same thoughts. obama needs to get his shit together and formulate a policy. He boasted of his 300 experts who would advise him, but he is more like a big ship dead in the water. Obama is a moral coward and afraid to do anything that his teleprompter can't make sound good to the masses.

Another problem obama has is that he is a muzzie. He really doesn't want the country he dislikes to be fighting his brothers of the Koran. We, and our troops, are screwed until obama leaves office.

Posted by: TomR at October 28, 2009 01:33 PM

Tom, good point that has is a huge part of
Obama's indecision. His being a Muslim
is a factor that should be brought up and
by those on talk shows on TV and radio too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 28, 2009 05:47 PM