Does the Name John Brady Kiesling Ring a Bell?

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THE PLANK OCTOBER 27, 2009

Does the Name John Brady Kiesling Ring a Bell?

In case it doesn't and your memory needs refreshing, he's the career diplomat who resigned in protest from the State Department in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq War. I bring up Kiesling because, despite all the hubbub over foreign service officer Matthew Hoh's resignation in protest over our Afghanistan policy, I'd imagine he'll become a historical footnote like Kiesling and his action will have little impact on the direction of the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy.

Then again, while the Bushies pretty much told Kiesling not to let the door hit him on the way out, the Obama administration put on a full-court press to keep Hoh inside the tent. And Hoh, who was a Marine in Iraq before he joined the Foreign Service and went to work as the senior U.S. civilian officer in Zabul province, does have a different profile from Kiesling, who spent his entire career in embassies, that could make him a more credible anti-war figure in the eyes of the American public. From Karen DeYoung's WaPo article on Hoh's resignation:

"I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love," Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the "second-best job I've ever had," his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.

"There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed," he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys."

It'll be interesting to see where Hoh goes from here. The Obama people are clearly giving him a hearing (in addition to his previous meetings with Eikenberry and Holbrooke, Hoh's scheduled to meet with Biden's national security advisor later this week). But what will Hoh do if, as seems likely, they don't heed his advice? Does he become the public face of opposition to the war in Afghanistan? And, if he does, will that even matter?

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posted in: the plank, politics, war, iraq, person career, department of state, diplomat, officer, matthew hoh

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