Matthew Hoh, the former senior U.S. civilian representative in Zabul province, Afghanistan, says that civilian deaths in Marjah caused by Operation Moshtarak were unnecessary and that the operation isn’t accomplishing anything. Hoh points to the installation of an outsider ex-con as the head official in Marjah as evidence that despite U.S. rhetoric to the contrary, Operation Moshtarak is not empowering local people. Hoh says the local Afghans view the U.S. forces as occupiers, and their presence in large numbers following President Obama’s decision to send more troops will cause more people to take up arms against the foreign forces.
Hoh made headlines in September 2009 when he resigned in protest over U.S. policies in Afghanistan:
In his letter, Hoh says families 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 anymore be made.” He says it was difficult for him to write that.
“But I don’t believe we should continue losing and sacrificing our young men and women for goals that meet no strategic purpose to the United States,” he tells NPR. “And the idea that we should continue fighting there just because we have been fighting there for the last eight years I think is completely irrational.”
Hoh dismisses concerns, raised by others such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will prompt a Taliban comeback and, consequently, a return of al-Qaida. He says after al-Qaida lost its Afghan safe haven following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the group evolved its strategy, looking beyond a political or geographical boundary.
“They are not looking for a safe haven in Afghanistan. They don’t need that,” he says. “They’ve already got safe havens in half a dozen other countries — Somalia, Sudan, Yemen.”
Hoh’s comments were supported by a State Department report released on March 11, 2010, detailing the egregious human rights record of the government propped up by U.S. blood and funds in Afghanistan:
The country’s human rights record remained poor. Human rights problems included extrajudicial killings, torture, poor prison conditions, official impunity, prolonged pretrial detention, restrictions on freedom of the press, restrictions on freedom of religion, violence and societal discrimination against women, restrictions on religious conversions, abuses against minorities, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, abuse of worker rights, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, and child labor.
U.S. policies in Afghanistan prop up a thoroughly corrupt government in Afghanistan, and the war isn’t making us safer. It’s time to end the war.