Matthew Hoh, Bless You for Setting The Pace

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, Prarie State Blue, MyDD, Open Left, Firedoglake.

From WaPo, October 27, 2009:

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.”

A tad more from the WaPo article:

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.’ “



Thank you Capt. Hoh.  I hear you, loud and clear.

Matthew Hoh is setting the pace.  If you want our troops re-deployed from Afghanistan, then go to your congress critters’ offices and pound on the table for re-deployment.



[Text of email sent on Oct. 27. 2009 to Sen. Dick Durbin’s policy advisor in the Hart Senate Office Building]:

Senator Durbin,

I learned today of Matthew Hoh’s resignation letter.

Pdf file for the complete letter.

I will provide some quotes from Mr. Hoh’s letter.  These quotes all contain points I have tried to impress on you during 2009.  Please read the entire four page letter for more:

The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies.  The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which an insurgency is justified.  In both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.

The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency.

I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan.  If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc.

More so, the September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries.

I do not believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and Sisyphean mission as the U.S. military has received in Afghanistan.

Our forces, devoted and faithful, have been commited to conflict in an indefinite and unplanned manner that has become a cavalier, politically expedient and Pollyannish misadventure.

Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal and will worsen with time.  The dead only return in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept.  I have lost confidence such assurances can anymore be made.  As such, I submit my resignation.

My compliments to Mr. Hoh’s honesty and character, which are evident in his refusal to further participate in this slaughter of our troops.  When will anyone in congress show such character?  

From the responses I’ve received from [Sen. Durbin’s policy advisor], when I’ve sent these very same points to his attention, I am unable to confirm if any of these points are even grasped.   I suspect they may be grasped, but there is no actual dialogue to confirm the points are grasped.  I have little objective evidence to rely upon to convince me that anyone in your office has the slightest interest in these points.  In sum, you could say that I have little faith that anything I’ve been saying actually “gets through” and makes the slightest difference.  It’s obvious that Matthew Hoh came to believe he wasn’t getting through to anyone, either.  He expressed this by resigning; I will express it by not going away.

Under these circumstances, coming to Springfield and communicating by means of a “bullhorn” seems to be a reasonable choice on my part.  I’d be delighted if you’d show me that it is not necessary.  Please feel free to prove it isn’t necessary by supporting, with effective actions as well as words, re-deployment of our troops from Afghanistan. (Effective actions are those which verifiably use your knowledge, vote, and your leadership to not allow further funding to go forward for this bizarre experiment in Afghanistan, and which results in re-deployment of our troops.)




.     .

God Bless You, Matthew Hoh.  Thank you for your courage, your patriotism, and your character. Your selfless act defines “Truth To Power”.

And Senator Durbin, what are YOU doing to extract our troops from Afghanistan?



Diarist’s note:

This is a live blog from the front porch at Sen. Dick Durbin’s office in Springfield, Illinois, in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  It’s a beautiful little park full of historic Lincoln-era homes, owned by the Dept. of the Interior, and managed by the National Park Service.  Sen. Durbin has rented office space in the George Shutt House since Sen. Durbin was a member of the House of Representatives.  As is shown on the bottom of his Senate web site home page, the address is 525 S. 8th St, Springfield IL 62703.  Thanks! to Sen. Durbin’s Springfield office staff for the graciousness which they have always extended.


Skip to comment form

  1. Another guy permanently resigned over Iraq

    His name was Col. Theodore S Westhusing

    May he rest in peace.

  2. Here’s to hoping for a sea change in thinking about this occupation.  

  3. Ann Wright’s resignation letter to Colin Powell. Note that GovExec has taken the original down, this is a cached copy.

    Lt. Ehren Watada was recently acquitted of all charges and the Army was not allowed to pursue a courts martial against him because he refused to deploy to Iraq. He is currently working a desk job with the Army and has not been discharged.

Comments have been disabled.