First known resignation from Afghan War
Mathew Hoh, a 36 year old in the employ of the State Department in the Foreign Service, has resigned his from his position, working as a diplomat in Afghanistan, resigned earlier this month citing a complete loss of justification of the continuing war in Afghanistan. He is the first person that is known to have resigned out of protest of continuing the war, as, according to sources, he felt that the continued occupation was only fueling the insurgency. (Articles on it here from MSNBC and here from the Huffington Post.) He may need a cash advance to get home and a new job, but it’s still a very brave thing for him to have done.
Reconciling costs and benefits of war are very hard, if not impossible
On September 10th, he posted a 4 page letter to his superiors and stated “I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purpose of United States’ presence in Afghanistan” and that “my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.” He felt that Afghans weren’t resisting the US presence because of the removal of the Taliban, or of Al Qaeda, but because the US military was simply there. It is not the first time that someone has stated this position, and it will not be the last, not even close.
Adamantly not some “pot smoking hippie”
Matthew Hoh has a long and distinguished career of service. Before his employment with the State Department, Hoh was in the United States Marine Corps, and served on the front lines with Iraq. He’s made it very clear, if you read statements, that he emphatically believes the Taliban and Al Qaeda to be evil (which they are), but that the presence of Al Qaeda is virtually exclusive to Pakistan and that the Afghan conflict with the Taliban is a civil war in which it isn’t necessary we be engaged in, and his resignation letter (which can be viewed at the Huffington Post article) cites the Vietnamese War as precedent – an internal conflict which we shouldn’t interfere with. The Afghan conflict has gone on for 8 years, 2 years less than the Vietnam War. (10 years, from 1965 to 75, accounting for major troop presence in 1965, but the first advisers were there in 1950.)
Perhaps this is justification for pause
This is an odd tangent, but it’s not without precedent – in the infamous but nontheless influential treatise The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli posited that military occupations must either swiftly crush everything in sight and then cease, or make conquered territory the new capital. No one can totally justify no action having taken, or taking action to combat terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or any facistic or totalitarian group of any kind. That would be ludicrous. However, as Matthew Hoh points out, the conflict there is internal, which very well may be true. He also states that the billions of extra cash going into our continued conflicts our mortgaging our future. Perhaps there’s something to that.