Loyal Opposition in the Foreign Service
Yesterday’s announcement of the resignation of Matthew Hoh, a Foriegn Service Officer stationed in Afghanistan, made headlines as the first government official resigning out of protest to our current policy in Afghanistan. Mr. Hoh stated that the current conflict had its genesis in a still “unresolved civil war that has been underway for over thirty years.” His resignation sent immediate shock waves through the administration as it made its way through the media. In offering to move him to Kabul to be on Ambassador Eikenberry’s staff then an onward offering to work for AfPak Special Representative Dick Holbrooke the State Department attempted to mitigate the media storm. Mr. Hoh ultimately refused both offers and stands today ready to leave the Foreign Service. The Foreign Service has a long history of loyal dissension and Mr. Hoh is another individual in that long line. What it doesn’t represent is a sea change in the way the State Department does its job or the way that those who are charged with carrying out US policy in Afghanistan will approach their jobs. Mr. Hoh made a very difficult choice and choose the path of his conscience, today the work of the State Department will go on in Kabul and around Afghanistan. The strength of a democracy lies not in those that blindly support policies but in those that disagree with those policies yet remain loyal to the government. Let’s hope of all the lessons taught to Afghans this one is the one they can take to heart as they struggle with the concept of democracy.