Quantcast
Connect with us

A startling trove of documents reveals the truth about Afghanistan

Published

on

Thanks for your support!
This article was paid for by reader donations to Raw Story Investigates.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Terry H. Schwadron
Terry H. Schwadron

The disclosures are extreme, but, sadly, what we have come to expect of government–across administrations.

The Washington Post obtained 2,000 documents showing that over years, news of U.S. military deployment to Afghanistan was routinely and repeatedly manipulated to reflect a rosier picture than what was happening on the ground. Further, the documents show that there was confusion about military mission and what would amount to success across the 18 years of deployment under the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.

ADVERTISEMENT

“A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” says the Post, which spend three years seeking the document trove.

U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents are presented in sortable files, but it is hard to find any good news here other than the obvious. In all the years of deployment, American troops helped keep terrorist forces from forming and training. Other than that, the government sold us stories in telling us that there was any real progress there.

The Afghan wars have brought about 2,000 American deaths as well as 38,000 Afghans, and countless problems for veterans. They have cost $2 trillion, have unearthed international corruption, narcotics trade and terrorist plots, as well as helping Afghan girls return to school between outbreaks of violence.

More Peace Efforts

The disclosures coincide with the announcement of renewed attempts by the Trump administration to reach an agreement with the Taliban insurgents trying to oust the government of Afghanistan. Trump has demanded a cease-fire in place to re-open negotiations that he had halted this summer.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, the disclosures also coincide with the impeachment efforts in Washington and the release of a Justice Department Inspector General’s report on investigations into Russian interference – clear examples where any sense of singular Truth has been reflected as some kind of relic of endangered human species.

During his Thanksgiving trip to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan over the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump said that the United States will stay in Afghanistan “until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly.” Trump also reaffirmed that he wants to reduce the American military presence from 13,000 by 4,000 troops.

That need to declare “total victory” is what this report is all about, as if, as a nation or a society, we cannot handle a more ambiguous reality.

ADVERTISEMENT

As Peter Baker noted in a New York Times essay, trust itself, in government and basic institutions, is under scrutiny or even posted as a target as almost never before. We see it in Congress, in the military, in presidential tweets, in the marketplace, in science, medicine, health care and, of course, the news media. Set aside impeachment, do you want to be the first to step on a Boeing 787 Max?

In its place, we are seeing increasingly shaky reliance on “alternative facts” or conspiracy theories or plain old lies by officials in government, business and culture.

ADVERTISEMENT

Examining the Failures

These Afghan documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials, said The Post.

The documents and interviews were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and years of legal back-and-forth with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, according to The Post. That is a government watchdog for the war in Afghanistan, releasing reports quarterly on the war’s progress, many of which clearly depicted the shortcomings of the effort.

According to the Post, after a quick but short-term victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in early 2002, and as the Pentagon’s focus shifted toward Iraq, the American military’s effort in Afghanistan became a hazy spectacle of nation building, with a small number of troops carrying out an unclear mission. Even after the Taliban returned, American officials almost always said that progress was being made.

ADVERTISEMENT

The documents quote generals and national security staff acknowledging confusion and pressure from the presidents, including Obama, who had ordered a surge in U.S. troops, to show good results. That pressure may have been reflected in interviews with national security staff, but it was felt all the way down the line, to the military units deployed.

This is like a bad move script, a re-run of Mission Accomplished video clips, a disappointment in our government’s ability, regardless of party, to tell us the hard truth. Our troops deployed there deserve better, and we as citizens deserve better. You should read the report.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

MSNBC’s ‘demotion’ of ‘feckless’ Chuck Todd celebrated: ‘Hurray! More Nicolle, less Chuck’

Published

on

MSNBC host Chuck Todd was moved to an earlier timeslot where his show, "Meet the Press Daily," will likely earn lower ratings. Meanwhile, Nicolle Wallace seems to have been promoted to a two-hour timeslot leading into primetime.

Wallace, who has extensive experience in Washington, previously served in George W. Bush's White House until abandoning the GOP as the era of Trump came to power.

Todd has made several missteps where he's been unwilling to press GOP leaders who lie openly and obviously on camera.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Senate Republicans provide a surprisingly potent sign of Trump’s growing impotence

Published

on

I’m not sure what kind of game Steven Mnuchin is playing, but it’s pretty clear that it’s a game. Gross domestic product fell by nearly 10 percent in the second quarter, as all of us were forced to cut back on account of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The drop, according to the Times, was the equivalent of a 32.5 percent annual rate of decline, “the most devastating three-month collapse on record,” which wiped out five years of growth. All of this would have been worse without government stimulus.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump embraces a poisonous view of the Jewish people as the world sees a startling rise in anti-Semitism

Published

on

It’s the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. When Japan signed the instruments of surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, it was the last of a series of notable events that took place that year.

The first was the liberation, on Jan. 27, 1945, of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany, imperial Japan’s Axis ally.

Post-Holocaust, the fervent credo of a Jewish community that witnessed approximately six million of its numbers perish in under five years — half of all European Jews and more than a third of Jews worldwide — has been “Never again!”

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image