Matthew Hoh, a Marine veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, was rising quickly through our Foreign Service ranks, serving as a Senior Civilian Representative for America in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Hoh had a bright government career ahead of him until he quit because the Afghan war is bullshit.
The Washington Post has posted Hoh’s resignation letter — which has earned the attention of the Oval Office. Generally, resignation letters from members of the foreign service don’t reach eyeballs in the executive branch because, feh, who cares about such low officials? But Hoh’s letter is a clear, concise, and cogent summary of the situation America presently faces in Afghanistan. You should read the whole thing (especially since I can’t quote from it because, just now, I found out Adobe Reader is missing the text selection tool; and I haven’t the time to troubleshoot it).
Having led men into battle before, Hoh’s concern is whether or not the injuries and loss of lives suffered by soldiers is for a cause that’s worth it. In Hoh’s estimation, Afghanistan is no longer a battle worth a soldier’s life. He implies that if the history of Afghanistan was a play, then America’s part would be merely a supporting role — not of importance. Right now, America isn’t fighting terrorism in Afghanistan — rather, we’re involved in Afghanistan’s 35 year old civil war. In fact, our very presence gives militias a reason to assemble as Afghans in some Pashtun provinces will fight against all invaders, be they domestic or otherwise, since anyone not from the province is perceived to be part of a “continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions, and religion.” We’re not fighting al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan. Instead, we’re fighting “the Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups.”
Furthermore, Hoh argues, if the government attempts to justify our war in Afghanistan by claiming we’re fighting terrorists, then why aren’t we invading other countries like Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen? Hell, Hoh also points out that terrorists have done some planning in Western Europe — why not invade those countries?
Who are we fighting? What kind of war are we fighting? And why?
These are basic questions. If the government and the military cannot answer athem is clearly as Hoh has stated the fundamental problems with the Afghanistan war, then the war becomes a money hole that could sink the American economy. Worse, soldiers are dying for no good reason.
In short, if these basic questions cannot be answered, then President Obama needs to deny General McChrystal’s request for more troops and bring all the other troops home.
Would that be embarrassing? Yes, but what’s worse is not admitting when a mistake has been made. Yes, some will complain — rightly — that we’ve abandoned Afghanistan for a second time. Yes, this is cruel. Yes, we made a mistake by going back there. But just because we made a mistake doesn’t mean we should perpetuate it.