First US Official Resigns to Protest Afghan War

October 27, 2009 - 4:59 PM
A former Marine who fought in Iraq and became a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has resigned in a high-profile protest of the Afghan war.
Washington (AP) - A former Marine who fought in Iraq and became a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has resigned in a high-profile protest of the Afghan war.
 
Foreign service officer Matthew Hoh is the first U.S. official known to have quit in protest to the war, according to The Washington Post, which reported Hoh's resignation in Tuesday's editions. Hoh said he stepped down only six months into the job because he believed the war is fueling the insurgency. The State Department said it respected his views but did not agree with them.
 
"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," Hoh wrote in his Sept. 10 resignation letter. "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."
 
Hoh's resignation took effect on Sept. 28, according to State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, who said the government appreciated his Hoh's service in Iraq and as a political officer in Zabul, Afghanistan.
 
"We take his point of view very seriously, but we continue to believe that we're on track to achieving the goal that the president has set before us," Kelly told reporters.
 
Kelly noted that senior U.S. officials in both Afghanistan and Washington had met with Hoh and "heard him out." "We respect his right to dissent."
 
However, Kelly pointed out that Hoh was a temporary hire whose tour was due to end in March after the completion of a limited one-year assignment and that his resignation was not comparable to those of career diplomats who stepped down to protest U.S. military actions in Bosnia and Iraq.
 
"Without minimizing the obvious passion and depth of feeling of Mr. Hoh in terms of his perception of the mission in Afghanistan, yes, I would draw a distinction between his situation and somebody who'd been in the foreign service and had a stake in the foreign service for 20 years or more," Kelly said.