Matthew P. Hoh. 10 September 2009. Hosted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.
The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, 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 and operations 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. In both the RC East and South, I have observed the the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.
I am now an old man. In the 60/70s I served under John P Vann in Vietnam for a total of over 2 years. I have read Mr Hoh´s letter with great interest. It reminds me of the integrity, compassion and patriotism that Mr Vann displayed, in words and deeds over and again. There was nobody even close, except Ron Ziegler and General Krulak on a good day. Time and pride wore him down, nobody can in the end escape the green machine. For Mr Vann it worked on his vanity until he became Mr B52. And if it could wear down Mr Vann, nobody is safe. I do hope that Mr Hoh gets listened to, that he is supported and that we get out of a war in Afghanistan that we do want to win and that we do not presently have the courage to get out of. ~ Ola Kristofersson