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US Official in Afghanistan resigns in protest of war

October 28, 2009

Some interesting news out of Afghanistan today.  A US official to that country has resigned in protest over the war.  Matthew Hoh  said his resignation wasn’t about how the war was being conducted but about why is was.  “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 letter, which was dated September 10, said.  Full text.

To my knowledge he is the first US official to resign in protest over the eight-year old war.  This is important as it is representative of the internal fracturing of opinion and compliance in the ‘good war’ of occupation and puppet regime in Afghanistan.  In his resignation letter, Hoh compares the US’s current involvement to the Soviet occupation of the country in the 1980’s and to the US’s own earlier misguided efforts in Vietnam.  Placing the ongoing conflict in the context of Afghan history, Hoh describes it as essentially just another phase of the 35-year civil war that has ravaged the country almost nonstop.  He calls into question the policy of supporting the  unpopular Karzai regime that is seen as illegitimate by most of the population and is notoriously corrupt and heavily involved in the opiates trade.  This is a point that has been brought up numerous time by Tariq Ali and others on the  Left but has been noticeably absent from mainstream coverage and analysis.  That Hoh raises this well established but little known fact is in itself significant.  It is perhaps yet another sign that rank and file of the US establishment are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the imperial war.

Another critical point that Hoh makes is that the current resistance is a Pashtun ethno-cultural revolt against what is perceived to be an assault on their culture, traditions, religion, and land from both external and internal invasions.  This feeling among Pashtuns extends back centuries and is inexorably tied up with the varied and complex history of the Hindu Kush region.  It is this feeling, as opposed to one of unbridled support of the Taliban, which is fueling the resistance to NATO and Afghan governmental forces.  We in the imperium are presented with a case that makes things appear the other way around, but it is becoming evermore clear that what is fueling the conflict is resistance to the occupation and not an insurgency based on imposing a specific ideology.  While the fundamentalist ideology serves as a focal point for the resistance to rally around, it is not in and of itself the root of that resistance.

The points that Hoh makes and connects together, (involvement in civil war, widespread corruption and graft, support of a discredited government heavily involved in the narcotics trade, Pashtun resistance to foreign domination),  are crucial for exposing the realities of the continuing war and occupation of Afghanistan by the imperium.  When they are coherently laid out and their inter-dynamics properly examined very serious questions arise, questions which Matthew Hoh could not find satisfactory answers for.

Although this is only one instance of dissent it is an important and significant one.  Hoh is not traditional critic of the US wars and foreign policy.  He is a former Marine Corps captain and Iraq War veteran who has served as a civilian in the Foreign Service as a top political representative for years.  According to the Washington Post he said, “I’m not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love”.  Aside from what exactly is wrong with wanting people to love on another, it is clear that Hoh doesn’t identify himself with those who have been opposed to the US wars and occupations.  That makes his resignation and protest all the more important as it represents a voice of dissent from within the ranks of the occupation.  Many courageous soldiers have refused to deploy and fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, sighting their conscious at the injustice of the wars, but political officials have until this point been relatively invisible on the matter.  Expect to see more follow in Hoh’s footsteps as the war and occupation drag on in an endless cycle where no one remembers what we are even fighting for anymore.  As the confusion and accompanying loss moral certitude set in, the cracks in the edifice of the occupation will continue to crack both in Afghanistan and in the imperial establishment.

We who oppose the wars and occupation of the imperium must take up and expand upon Hoh’s call to put a stop to war without end or purpose.  When the very reasons extolled by the political leaders  for being in Afghanistan begin to disappear into the smoke-filled sky of that poor country we are in danger of slipping into a permanent war situation.  All the better from the military-industrial-media-complexes and the banksters that stand to profit for all the human destruction, all the worse for the rest of us.

Update 10/28/09:  See this article just published by NYT about the relationship between Kazari’s brother, the CIA, and the opium trade.

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