RICK STEINER served as a marine conservation professor with the University of Alaska from 1980-2010, stationed in the Arctic, Prince William Sound, and Anchorage. He was responsible for the University's conservation and sustainability extension effort, and was producer/host of the Alaska Resource Issues Forum, a public television program on controversial natural resource issues. He advised the emergency response to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989 and helped found the Regional Citizens Advisory Councils and the Prince William Sound Science Center. He advises the UN, governments, NGOs, and industry on oil spill prevention, response, assessment, and restoration.
Steiner learned about oil spills the hard way -- in Valdez Harbor. He learned about academic politics the same way, losing federal grant funding for outspoken criticism of the oil industry.
A former Marine captain with combat experience in Iraq, Matthew Hoh, also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. This summer he was the senior US civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed. In September Hoh became the first US official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war.
His four page letter of resignation explains that he became convinced that our war in that country will not only inevitably fail, but is fueling the very insurgency we are trying to defeat.
He points out that "next fall, the United States' occupation will equal in length the Soviet Union's own physical involvement in Afghanistan."
"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."
The Pentagon’s own 2004 report concluded: "Negative attitudes and the conditions that create them are the underlying sources of threats to America's national security . . . Direct American intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for Islamic radicals."
"American families," Hoh said at the end of his letter of resignaton, "must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence such assurances can be made any more."