Matthew Hoh, the US official who resigned in protest over the Afghan war did a Q&A over at the Washington Post. It’s unfortunate that the issues he raised seemed to have been overshadowed by his employment status. But the Q&A is a good start. Why are we in Afghanistan and how long we should be there ought to be part of a broader discussion about this “good war.” You can read the whole thing here.
Washington, D.C.: Could you explain the nature of your employment with the State Department? I understand you were hired to work in Afghanistan on a limited, one-year contract. Are there a lot of people there under similar contracts?
Matthew Hoh: Yes, I was hired as a limited non-career foreign service officer. I was sworn into the foreign service as as foreign service officer for at temporary period of time. The US government “deputizes” people in such manner to make up for shortfalls in manning or to bring in people with specialized experience. Much of the “civilian surge” that you may have read about in Afghanistan consists of temporary government hires. Although it is a contract these positions should not be confused with contractors filling various logistics, security and intelligence positions.
Washington, D.C.: Would a little more thought go into the why of going to war, if the Congress actually had to declare war and that upon a declaration of war, the military draft was reinstated for the duration of said war?
Matthew Hoh: Absolutely. As a former professional military officer I am against the draft because I don’t believe it leads to an effective military. However, as a private citizen I feel that a draft would engage our population in the debate. I don’t believe we would have invaded Iraq if we had a draft and I don’t believe we would still be in Afghanistan if we had a draft.
Philadelphia, Pa.: Do you know of other Foreign Service officers who also don’t think we should be in Afghanistan, but don’t have the guts to resign or even to express their reservations?
Matthew Hoh: Yes.