Matthew Hoh Speaks Grim Truth To Power

Most telling may be the disparity between Hoh -- the serious student of Afghan culture -- and Washington's decision-makers. To deal with one of the most complex settings on earth, the Obama administration relies on key figures -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Af-Pak Special envoy Richard Holbrooke and NSC Advisor James Jones -- whose careers in politics or the bureaucracy (like those commanding generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal) are bereft of any substantive knowledge of a people they are supposed to master. It leaves them all dangerously dependent on staff, and prey to the absence of dissenters like Hoh among aides whose credentials are hardly more impressive than their own.

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