Saturday, October 31, 2009
In a letter to the Washington Post today, a Westporter overseeing a legal education program in Kabul, Afghanistan disputed a top U.S. Foreign Service officer who resigned in protest over the Afghan war.
“I agree with many of former Foreign Service officer Matthew Hoh’s criticisms of the international effort in Afghanistan, particularly our failures to demand that the Afghan government address corruption and, relatedly, to give non-ideological insurgents incentives to stop planting roadside bombs,” wrote Benjamin Joseloff, 27.
“That said, I don’t agree with Mr. Hoh that there is nothing here worth fighting for.”
Joseloff, son of Westport First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff, is a 2000 Staples High School graduate and 2008 graduate of Stanford Law School. After completing a one-year federal clerkship, he has been in the Afghan capital since September as a fellow at the Afghanistan Legal Education Project.
Hoh, a 36-year-old former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.
But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.
“Our divergent conclusions are no doubt the products of our experiences,” Joseloff said in his letter. “Mr. Hoh watched close friends die in Iraq and was then assigned to Zabul, a province that can make Kandahar and Helmand look like Disney World.
“I watched close friends write textbooks in Palo Alto, Calif., and then volunteered for Kabul, a province where I am greeted at work every day by cheerful, 18- to 30-year-old Afghan men and women eager to bring peace, stability and, yes, even democracy to their troubled country.
“Is my experience typical? No. But from what I understand, neither is Mr. Hoh’s. Most of Afghanistan is still somewhere between the Kabul bubble and the Zabul blunder, skeptical of embracing foreign troops but loath to return to life under the Taliban.”
Joseloff added: “It is this undecided majority that represents our ever-shrinking window of opportunity. If those people can be convinced that a democratic government is their best bet for a brighter future, a more stable Afghanistan and a more secure world seem achievable.
“If not, we will have wasted billions of dollars and thousands of lives. But we’re not at that point yet. As long as the undecided majority remains undecided, there’s some hope, some possibility and something here worth fighting for.”
Posted 10/31/09 at 04:31 PM Permalink
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Be proud Mr Webmaster
And keep up your efforts Ben, may God keep you safe and sucessful !
This will require that we give the necessary support, including on-ground military support, and in a timely manner, as has been requested by the general in charge. It’s the only way to win the twin goals of victory over terrorists and a stable elected government for the people of Afghanistan. The home front here has to back the battle front there if this is going to happen. Otherwise, we might as well pack it in now. But if were to do that, what messages would it send about us, and where would it leave all the people—including the women—of Afghanistan?
Ben, I hope enough people agree with your assessment that there’s something worth fighting, especially those in position to move us towards the desired goals.