It is rare for an established military man to resign from his post, and decide to actively critique his country's war policy. Especially a young military man, such as 36 year old Matthew Hoh, a Foreign Service officer, who was based out of Zabul province in Afghanistan before he handed in his papers last month. Senior officials of the Obama administration took notice of Hoh's resignation because of the high acclaim he received as a Marine captain in Iraq, and for his service in the Pentagon. In a four-page letter published a day before the eight anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Hoh declared:
"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."Hoh's makes the point that he's not terminating his duties, but that his duties are counter-productive, and so he is righting a wrong. He still has practical advice for the Armed Forces, and believes pursuing terrorists in Afghanistan in some fashion is consistent with the original mission. But in his opinion the United States should limit its role in the region.
Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post describes Hoh's initial doubts upon arriving in Zabul province this year and his final disconnection with the United States' military and political approach in the fight against terrorism. DeYoung writes:
Hoh was assigned to research the response to a question asked by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during an April visit. Mullen wanted to know why the U.S. military had been operating for years in the Korengal Valley, an isolated spot near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan where a number of Americans had been killed. Hoh concluded that there was no good reason. The people of Korengal didn't want them; the insurgency appeared to have arrived in strength only after the Americans did, and the battle between the two forces had achieved only a bloody stalemate.In these remarks Hoh seems like an honorable man, who genuinely tried to aid the people of Afghanistan and make US policy work for all friendly parties involved. His uncommon interest in the history of Afghanistan, and the complexities of the people living in that ancient land, makes his conclusions that much more convincing. The quality of his character is evident, and makes it clear once more that the Military produces good men in spite of its horrible brainwashing and lack of ethics for anyone that is not an American, or a Russian, Israeli, German, Iranian, etc. But, leaving that aside for a moment, the value of Hoh's opposition is lackluster because it is critically unimaginative. As Arthur Silber says in a highly informed statement:
Korengal and other areas, he said, taught him "how localized the insurgency was. I didn't realize that a group in this valley here has no connection with an insurgent group two kilometers away." Hundreds, maybe thousands, of groups across Afghanistan, he decided, had few ideological ties to the Taliban but took its money to fight the foreign intruders and maintain their own local power bases.
"That's really what kind of shook me," he said. "I thought it was more nationalistic. But it's localism. I would call it valley-ism."
Zabul is "one of the five or six provinces always vying for the most difficult and neglected," a State Department official said. Kandahar, the Taliban homeland, is to the southwest and Pakistan to the south. Highway 1, the main link between Kandahar and Kabul and the only paved road in Zabul, bisects the province. Over the past year, the official said, security has become increasingly difficult.
By the time Hoh arrived at the U.S. military-run provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in the Zabul capital of Qalat, he said, "I already had a lot of frustration. But I knew at that point, the new administration was . . . going to do things differently. So I thought I'd give it another chance." He read all the books he could get his hands on, from ancient Afghan history, to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, through Taliban rule in the 1990s and the eight years of U.S. military involvement.
Frank Ruggiero, the Kandahar-based regional head of the U.S. PRTs in the south, considered Hoh "very capable" and appointed him the senior official among the three U.S. civilians in the province. "I always thought very highly of Matt," he said in a telephone interview.
In accordance with administration policy of decentralizing power in Afghanistan, Hoh worked to increase the political capabilities and clout of Naseri, the provincial governor, and other local officials. "Materially, I don't think we accomplished much," he said in retrospect, but "I think I did represent our government well."
Hoh offers no principled opposition to wars of aggression: he approves of a criminal war in Iraq, but opposes it in Afghanistan. And he opposes it in Afghanistan not because it's a crime and morally abhorrent -- which it is -- but because it's not "working." It's "ineffective." This perfectly mirrors the typical liberal criticism of the Iraq crime: that it was executed "incompetently." Opposition of this kind finally reduces to no opposition at all, except on specifics. Such opposition is futile, inconsistent and contradictory, and ultimately worthless. It fails to challenge U.S. policy on the critical, more fundamental level -- and it invites a future catastrophe on an equal or, which is horrifying to contemplate, an even greater scale.There is very little to add to what Silber said. Hoh has not yet taken that final plunge and unequivocally renounce the modern military crusade in the Middle East, otherwise known as the 'War on Terror.' Also, I'm afraid that Hoh's judgment on the war in Afghanistan will gain little attraction, apart from a few rumblings by the press here and there. A more striking war resister would have been former football player Pat Tillman, had he not been shot in the back by the country he swore to defend and then glorified as a hero to stir the passions of fat football fans.
Hoh may have it in him to one day be an influential veteran/war critic in the anti-war movement like Adam Kokesh, Matthis Chiroux, Ehren Watada, Geoff Millard, and others, but as of right now, he is a tiger without any teeth. Hoh needs to take a page from Sgt. Chiroux, who in a recent interview with Russia Today, eloquently refuted the claims made by the US government that the war in Afghanistan is a 'good' war, and that to leave would be irresponsible. As Chiroux says, it is hard to imagine that the wars in the Middle East are anything other than immoral, racist, and illegal. In his words, the US military "spreads death," and nothing but.
So far, Hoh is still under the belief that the War on Terror is legally and morally justifiable. His assessment of the facts on the ground in Afghanistan, however, is based on a great deception, which is certainly not unique to the War on Terror, and that is; there exists an external enemy to defeat. The truth is that no such enemy exists. If anything, the enemy is 'us', - meaning the American government, and the compliance of American people.
To briefly reaffirm my views on the War on Terror, I believe that it is, at bottom, an imperial invasion of Central Asia and the Middle East, and will prove to be America's greatest folly. And until the real actors behind 9/11 are addressed by a true anti-war coalition, then the death and destruction will continue. Any criticism of American wars in the Middle East that avoids the body of evidence that suggests Al Qaeda and the Muslim World was not responsible for 9/11, is meaningless, ineffective, and tragically dishonest. The greatest resource to stop the madness of war is the truth, and the truth in our day is, indeed, horrific, but we risk losing everything if we don't speak it. Glenn Greenwald in his commentary on Hoh's resignation shows himself to be still unready to face the whole truth of what he rightly calls our "orwellian wars." For all his good qualities, Greenwald has yet to be 'truth excavator' certified. Although I admire his dissection of the censorship of the corporate media and his stalemate defense of constitutional principles, I cannot fully embrace a man who does not give voice to all the inconsistencies and lies about 9/11 that have piled up from every direction.
The official narrative of that crucial event can be completely ripped apart as a one big lie. A rational analysis of 9/11 in a new criminal investigation will clear up these questions and end the ongoing farce that is called the War on the Terror. First, let us briefly look at the mythic event from the scientific perspective. How can you ignore the discoveries made by American physicist Steven Jones, and Danish scientist Niels Harrit, that there was nano-termite, an explosive device, in the WTC dust. Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and the Taliban are incapable to produce such high-level technology. Also, if you examine the video footage and apply the basic rules of physical dynamics then you'll realize a building can't fall at free fall speed without being propelled downwards by high explosives implanted in their structure. The many witnesses at Ground Zero testify to this account of destruction by demolition. Fire-fighters, first responders, and office workers running out of WTC all asserted that they heard a combination of explosions coming from the Two Towers. And, of course, there is WTC 7, which was attacked by zero airplanes, but still crumbled to dust at the end of the day.
Second, from the circumstantial side, who made the decision to make NORAD conduct a terrorism drill on 9/11? America's guard was let down, and it was done beforehand. Cheney is certainly a guilty individual in this respect because he took over command of America's air defense, and served as the last stand. Also, the insider trading of United Airlines stock suggests there was foreknowledge in high corridors of power. This is just a small recap of the indisputable evidence gathered by bright engineers like Richard Gage, and professionals from other fields.
The most highlighting fact of the real criminal nature of 9/11 is the preparations made by the US military for potential wars in the Middle East. It turned out that the standing army on 9/11 was more like an itching army. And it makes sense. The high output of military equipment and technology means that they will be put to use by ambitious men at some point. And if we look at the policy side both before and after 9/11, then we can see the extreme willingness of influential policy makers to take America to war. The Project for a New American Century, a neoconservative document, highlighted a required justification for a new invasion of the Middle East, a new "Pearl Harbor" as they called it, to win over the American people. The implications of a new war with Iraq were clear even before the attacks on 9/11, and the administration of Bush and Cheney. In 1990, during the first Gulf War, Gen. David C. Jones, who was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Carter and the first two years of the Reagan presidency, announced his concerns about the increasing hostilities between America and the Islamic world. In his remarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and published by the LA Times, Gen Jones compared the antagonistic situation with all the war measures made in 1914, when the European imperial powers were facing up for an inevitable conflict:
"Each side's reaction to the other's growing force levels and troop movements became in itself the rationale for a war and a terrible slaughter that followed. There are disturbing parallels as we escalate our force levels in the Middle East," Jones said.Gen. Jones hit it on the spot; the basic fact of troop presence in the Middle East creates and perpetuates conflict. Terrorism is not a chicken and egg argument, but a bomb and bomb argument. What came first was the bomb, which was given to tyrants, and used on innocent civilians, and what came later were more bombs, given to new tyrants, and used on new innocent civilians, because the old innocent civilians are the new terrorist insurgents, who will become the newer tyrants, and will get the latest bomb, which is all handed out by the original tyrants. So, to repeat; bomb, bomb, bomb, tyrants, civilians, terrorists, bomb, bomb, bomb, civilians, terrorists, tyrants.
"My main concern with this latest scheduled reinforcement isn't that we might choose to fight but rather that the deployment might cause us to fight, perhaps prematurely and perhaps unnecessarily," he concluded.
Bombing from the air is the most despicable instrument of war ever created. It is utter cowardice. Professor Marc W. Herold of the University of New Hampshire, explains the motives and effects of aerial strikes in his article called: Killing the Innocents to Save 'Our Troops.' In it he describes how the dehumanization of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, made possible by endless propaganda, leads to indiscriminate killing on a scale that most Americans, if the same actions were committed to them, would find outrageously criminal, even Hitlerian. Herold writes:
U.S aerial strikes were a chosen way of minimizing U.S casualties at the expense of Afghan civilian deaths and injured. In other words, a conscious self-serving U.S decision was made to impose undue harm upon Afghan civilians. That is a war crime.Losing a war in the twentieth-first century is simple; if you bomb, you lose. But, of course, it is wrong to assume that winning and losing is what strategic military planners at the pentagon, and war corporations have in mind when they decide to go to war. They could care less. The target is not the Taliban, or other Islamic extremists, but profit and control, endless profit overseas, and endless control at home. Terrorism is a side-product, an endlessly profitable side-product.
Eight years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the nature of the crimes being committed in the American people's name are still avoided, even by the most critical commentators among us. Soon, it will be found out that war resistance is impossible without full admission of the real truth. Soon, the stakes will rise, and the wars America is currently engaged in will produce grimmer effects. Maybe only then will an active and unapologetic resistance finally make its voice heard.