Matthew Hoh, the highest-ranking foreign service officer to resign his post in Afghanistan, says he completely understands US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s move to privately speak out against an escalation of forces, given the corrupt central government in place in the country.
Hoh, the former Marine Corps captain who served in a civilian capacity in eastern and southern Afghanistan and made headlines with his resignation, participated in a panel discussion on the eight-year war after a screening of Robert Greenwald’s “Rethink Afghanistan” last night in Los Angeles. He believes that there is a window of opportunity for those who want to stop the escalation in Afghanistan while Barack Obama muses over his decision. “We have a window. Maybe not to end the war tomorrow, but to make it a year instead of four or five years, and save a lot of lives. We may not have this opportunity again.”
Hoh served under Eikenberry while in Afghanistan and did brief him a couple times about the provinces where he was posted. “I briefed, had a couple heart-to-heart talks with him. I’m glad he spoke out internally. And I’m not surprised.”
Hoh described Eikenberry as one of the more credible voices on the situation in the country. “He’s basically lived there since 2003, his wife lives there with him now.” But he was clear that Eikenberry was not alone in his skepticism of the Afghanistan project. “There are a lot of guys, not just in the foreign service but in the military, who are looking at this thing and they don’t understand what we’re doing there. I get emails all the time from junior and midlevel officers, telling me, ‘Keep it up. This makes no sense to us.’”