State Dept says it respects US diplomat`s right to dissent
Washington: A day after the resignation
letter of a State Department official, which was critical of
the US policy on Afghanistan, became public, the Obama
Administration on Wednesday said it respects the right to dissent and
takes the views of the official very seriously.
Matthew How, who was posted as the political officer in
a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Zabul, became the first
official to resign from his duty in Afghanistan, and was very
critical of the US policy on Afghanistan.
"We take his opinions very seriously. Senior officials
on the ground in Afghanistan and here in Washington have
talked to him, have heard him out. We respect his right to
dissent," the State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, told
reporters at his daily press briefing.
"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the
strategic purposes of the United States` presence in
Afghanistan," Hoh wrote in his four-page letter to the State
Department`s head of personnel.
According to the letter dated September 10, the
36-year-old wrote, "I have doubts and reservations about our
current strategy and planned future strategy, but my
resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war,
but why and to what end."
"We take his point of view very seriously. But we
continue to believe that we are on track to achieving the goal
that the President has set before us: improving Afghan
governance; providing security, infrastructure, jobs,
basically giving the Afghan people an alternative to the very
negative vision of the Taliban and al-Qaida," Kelly said.
"He also talked to the Deputy Chief of Mission out
there, Mr Frank Ricciardone. It was very much an open and
transparent process. As I say, we value his service, we value
his background and his skills. This is why we appointed him to
this limited non-career appointment to be a political officer,
to be our eyes and ears on the ground in Zabul. In the end, he
made his own decision, that he decided to resign, and we
respect that," he said.
American media yesterday reported that Matthew Hoh’s
letter has sent ripples all the way to the White House, as he
became the first US official known to resign in protest over
the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fuelled
"We took his letter very seriously, because he was a
good officer," Holbrooke said in an interview.
"We all thought that given how serious his letter was,
how much commitment there was, and his prior track record, we
should pay close attention to him," he said.
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