Top Civilian in Zabul Province, Matthew Hoh, Resigns: We Fouled Up On Afghanistan

We fouled up on Afghanistan.

How?  We have been there for eight years. Even if our ends are seemingly helpful to the Afghan people, we are bombing and fighting over there, and there has to be some resentment. 

The window to help and resurrect Afghanistan, sans Taliban rule, was not eight years long. Yet we did not focus on Afghanistan sufficiently back when it mattered. Many people at the time made this argument. Unfortunately, few were in the Bush Administration.
Now, right or wrong, Matthew Hoh, a Political Officer in the Foreign Service and Senior Civilian Representative for the U.S. Government in Zabul Province, has resigned.  His reasons?
Hoh said that his act of protest and decision to speak out were painful, even "nauseating" at times, but he was strongly motivated by the friends he had lost on the battlefield and the mental anguish he has experienced since returning home. "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,' " he explained, adding that he "is not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love."

Hoh will meet with Joe Biden's foreign policy adviser this week, and will advise a reduction in troops. He said he feels the U.S. "has an obligation for it not to be a bloodbath," but that Afghans are resistant to what they see as a military occupation.
Hopefully Hoh is incorrect, but after eight years of lack of focus, this is an understandable and even somewhat predictable outcome.

Here is Hoh's letter of resignation. In it, he noted the following:
Like the Soviets [who were also in Afghanistan, perhaps for lesser reasons, for an extended time], we continue to bolster and secure a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by its people.
Among the prominent people that brushed off Afghanistan, back when it should have been clear (and to some of us, it was) not to take Afghanistan for granted, was none other than 2008 Republican Party Presidential Candidate John McCain.

McCain seemed to disparage the complexity of Afghanistan and the challenges we faced there, and seemed to ignore its history, from the very start. On October 1, 2001, he did not think that Afghanistan was much of an issue or the main challenge, and stated:

That's where the tough part of this whole scenario is going to begin. And that is that, after the Taliban are overthrown -- which I believe they will be -- I have very little doubt in my mind -- after bin Laden is either taken prisoner or killed and his network is destroyed, then what's next? Obviously, Iraq is still bent on.. [developing WMDs], Iran is..... [MSNBC, Hardball 10/03/01]
In April, less than two weeks after we went into Iraq, McCain stated:
But nobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States of America and nobody is running terrorist training camps to orchestrate attacks on the United States of America. [Fox, Hannity and Colmes, 4/03/03].
Perhaps somewhat true at that moment, but neither was this the case with Iraq. And it had been the case for Afghanistan, which is precisely why we went in there to begin with. In fact, it was in Afghanistan, aided, supported, and assisted by the Taliban, where al-Qaeda trained, and in fact did plan and launch its depraved September 11, 2001, attack.

Several other, very notable statements, seemed to belie an understanding of what the challenge in Afghanistan was, including calling it "so far a remarkable success" on an ABC just a few weeks before we went into Iraq, and two and a half years later, on CNN, stating "Afghanistan, we don’t read about anymore, because it’s succeeded." More details found here.

Why is this worth mentioning?  Because in 2008, our national media annointed John McCain our nation's top, unquestionable, military strategy and foreign policy expert, and not only pushed this same angle as the McCain Campaign, but even protected McCain from questioning or facts suggesting otherwise.

The same media that the far right, and the McCain campaign, argues, and actually believes, was "unfair" to it.

While at the same time, the media, ever defensive, ran articles headlined with the question as to whether or not it was being unfair to the McCain Campaign. And while Democrats, once again, played right into framing of the far right, by arguing points on their terms. Not by asserting how in fact McCain received oftentimes ridiculously favorable treatment relative to the facts, but by making the argument that "the media was not unfair to McCain," thus strenghtening the idea, from a non partisan perspective, that whether or not the media was unfair to McCain is the question, rather than reshift the focus onto the far more pertinent one as to whether it was in fact lopsidedly favorable to McCain relative to the facts, and if so, why.