Diplomat resigns over war in Afghanistan. Is the analysis in his resignation letter correct?

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Letter here - The 4 page letter is very powerful and makes several analytical claims. Does it accurately describe the situation in Afghanistan or not?

A Q&A with Washington Post readersas to why he resigned

From everything I can tell it would seem so. The idea that Al Qaeda is somehow constrained to Afghanistan is a preposterous notion. There is nothing that can be done in Afghanistan to end terrorism. The very notion of ‘ending’ terrorism is preposterous in and of itself, it’s like ‘ending’ crime.

Al Qaeda is a specific enemy that we CAN fight, though. I think it’s wrong to abandon Afghanistan to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

And no one thinks it can be done. What can be done- and has been done- is stop a government from giving Al Qaeda open support, training facilities and ect. Al Qaeda may still be around, but now it has to operate under cover, and it hasn’t been all that successful in any more attacks on America.

It would seem that Hoh disagrees with you, and feels that there is more to it than a centralized, easy to identify enemy such as Al Qaeda or the Taliban:

I tend to believe Hoh over you, since his credentials and experience in this are are extensive.

Yeah, so is Hydra, Spectre and Cobra.

Silly and pointless. As was pointed out by Hoh they can train in The Yemen or Sudan also, or maybe Somalia, or even in the ungoverned parts of Paraguay for all you know. Maybe in Detroit. The appropriate response is not to pretend that we can make a stable government in the region it is to have the ability to project force anywhere that Al Qaeda can manifest within a week’s time. We need a more nimble fast attack strike force, no emphasis on occupation. Less army, more Marines. Fuck the F-22 fuck nation building, we need to be able to Halo drop marines in power armor anywhere in the world with sufficient troop strength to occupy a small region for a short period of time. Smash and grab forces, not occupational ones. We need to think more ODST and less Marshall Plan.

I count myself as truly, absolutely in the undecided category when it comes to Afghanistan – it isn’t often that I can say I’m stymied by a question of international relations – but in fairness, General McChrystal seems to agree with Mosier, and I think it’s fair to say that McChrystal has even more extensive credentials and experience than Hoh.

Ultimately, the question of who is right about Afghanistan isn’t going to come down to who has the most experts on their side, it is whether the experts we listen to are right.

True enough. But there will come a point where we must ask ourselves what we’re doing in Afghanistan, and whether we’re succeeding at our objectives (or indeed exactly what our objectives are, other than a generic “fighting evil organizations”)

If it turns out that we’re merely an occupying force (which is what many Afghanis think we are, even if they are anti-taliban), then we are obligated to examine history, and the results of campaigns in Afghanistan over the centuries. Hint - the occupiers do not come out on top.

The problem with judging McChrystal is that military men often see their particular skillset as being the ideal tools for the job.

Whoa. I read this:

and for a second I was time-warped back to the last election.

I lean toward Hoh, but have to admit I suffer from a case of Not Enough Information.

True, but so do diplomats.

Hoh isn’t only a diplomat. He also served in the Marine Corps in Iraq. That’s a pretty rare combination. He undoubtedly has more ground-level experience than McCrystal who as a general invariably gets a highly filtered view of ground reality. This doesn’t automatically mean that Hoh is right of course, but is pertinent to evaluating his credentials.

I doubt we can have much debate on this question because I don’t think anyone here has any sort of expertise or experience with Afghanistan to speak credibly on it. One question from the Q & A article did strike me as troubling:

We will never stop being a nation in a perpetual state of war until our people realize that we can’t just send in our military into a country, kill a bunch of our enemies, and “win.” We keep trying to take our Gulf War and WWII experiences, wars that had clear strategic aims, and pasting them on to these complex political conflicts and wondering why we don’t just win already!

To quote John Paul Vann: “This is a political war and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife, but I’m afraid we can’t do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worst is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle — you know who you’re killing.”

But you see, it’s a lot easier to train when you know the Marines won’t be coming through your door any minute. When you have the open protection of a government, you can operate in the open, without fear.

Well, maybe a combination of both, no? I’m generally quite a pacifist, but the realist in me recognizes the preference for limited strikes and incursions over occupations and attempted regime change such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not sure we’ve ever fully explored the benefits that can be derived from economic and other non-military efforts.

I’m not certain the Marshall Plan involved forcibly invading and occupying hostile nations.

If anyone is interested, Hoh was interviewed on The Newshour today.

I have read Hoh’s analysis, and he is correct. We can no more transform Afghanistan (by force) that we could have transformed North Vietnam , in 1968.
Think about it-had we left Vietnam in 1968, we would have saved over 30,000 American lives (and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese), and hundreds of billions of $.
But nope-we just kept throwing more into the pit.
“…we were six foot deep in tyhe big muddy, and the big fool says to push on…”-Pete Seeger

You mean like they’re doing in Somalia and The Sudan right now?

The OP asks for an opinion as to whether Hoh’s assessment was correct. I ask, how can we couch potatoes possibly oppose our opinions to his?

Remember all those army officers who told Johnson and later Nixon, if you can only give me another 100,000 troops we can have victory. And then they have conscripts; now they have to depend on volunteers.

The NY Times yesterday had a wonderful op-ed piece, a translation of an assessment of the situation in Afghanistan by a Russian general that could have been written by an American yesterday. His main claim was that they can conquer any particular piece of Afghanstan they want, but they cannot hold them. I guess with 10 million troops they could have. They went in with an expeditionary force and expected to be out in a few months. But it was like a tarbaby; the longer they were there, they more they were sucked in. Until, essentially, the Soviet Union dissolved.

AlQueada is not in Afghanistan. Are you prepared to go after Pakistan too. That is where they are now.