Afghanistan occupation fuels insurgency

The Washington Post reports that Matthew Hoh, top civilian official in Afghanistan’s Zabul province (and former Marine Corps captain in Iraq), resigned his post last month because he realized our efforts there were conterproductive:

[Matthew Hoh] said in his resignation letter, that the war “has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the Pashtun insurgency.”

With “multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups,” he wrote, the insurgency “is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and Nato presence in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified.”

American families, he said at the end of the letter, “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 be made any more.”

This is the exact same problem we have in Iraq and had in Vietnam. The fight in all three countries turned from fighting communists and terrorists to the general population which turned against us. We end up killing the very people we’re supposedly fighting for.

The essential truth is that people of all stripes just don’t like living under military occupation. Especially when that occupation leads to the death – however accidentally – of your neighbors, friends and family. Imagine how you would feel if Russian troops were stationed on every block and each week you heard horrifying tales of your countrymen being bombed or whisked off to secret prisons.


  1. Ian

    So… what should we do then?

    Also, I am petitioning that the Vietnam War be given a Godwin’s Law type status.

  2. Chris

    We should… ummm… leave?

  3. Ian

    Yes Afghanistan is certainly stable enough. Brilliant strategy.

  4. Chris

    It’s unstable because we’re there. That’s my point.

  5. Ian

    You don’t think we are just another variable in the instability? Look at how their recent “election” went. That place is a mess.

  6. Chris

    We are one of many factors for sure. But we are the *primary* problem.

    At this point we’re justifying our continued occupation on the basis of violence directed at our own troops. If we don’t have troops there, that obviously solves that problem.

  7. Ian

    In a sense, are we not fighting those who directly attacked the US? Afghanistan had knowingly harbored al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. This isn’t like Iraq.

  8. Chris

    As our top General in Afghanistan noted, most Al Qaeda folks have moved elsewhere or been killed. Right now we are fighting Afghani nationalists and folks that make up a new Taliban which may or may not want to be allied with Al Qaeda if they returned.