27 October, 2009

First US official resigns over Afghanistan war

A senior diplomat has become the first US official to resign in protest at the war in Afghanistan, in a move that has shaken the White House, according to reports.

Matthew Hoh, 36, a former captain in the Marine Corps who fought in Iraq before joining the US State department, resigned from his post as the senior US civilian in Zabul province, a Taleban stronghold in Afghanistan. He said that he believed the war only fuelled the insurgency, the Washington Post reports.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," Mr Hoh wrote in his resignation letter, dated September 10.

"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."

He said that many Afghans were fighting the United States largely because its troops were there. While the Taleban was a malign presence, and al-Qaeda needed to be confronted, he said, the US was asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what was essentially a far-off civil war.

American families, he wrote; "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 be made any more."
Richard Holbrooke, the White House's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the Post he disagreed that the war "wasn't worth the fight.". However, he added, "I agreed with much of his analysis."