Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gung Hoh

I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. 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. To put simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war.

The WaPo headline is "US official resigns over Afghan war," but that doesn't capture the real power of the story. Matthew Hoh isn't just some wet-behind-the-ears Foreign Service suit who woke up one morning, noticed he was in Afghanistan, and panicked. He's a veteran who worked as a civilian contractor putting Tikrit back together after the US invasion of Iraq, and then, on recall to active duty from the Reserve, led a Marine company in Anbar Province. Or, as he put it in the story, "I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love .... There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed."

I find it interesting that his take on the situation -- an assessment from right there in the middle of it -- has a lot in common with mine, and with Steve Newton's. The overlap isn't complete, mind you ... but the political/social observations, from on the ground and from at a remove, are very similar.

Some of the staunchest supporters of escalation like to play the "ask the troops, ask the veterans, they'll tell you!" card. Unlike those guys, I won't claim that military experience translates to automatic knowledge, especially at the strategic level. But to the extent that military experience is an asset in evaluating such things ... well, between Hoh, Newton and myself it looks like we're talking about 40-50 years of aggregate service in the US Army and Marine Corps and at least three wars. So take that for whatever it might be worth.

Here's Hoh's resignation letter in its entirety [hat tip -- Domani Spero at Diplopundit ]:

Matthew Hoh first US official to resign over Afghan War

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