What Have You Heard About Afghanistan Lies Told to Americans?
We spent some time this morning talking on the radio show about the growing unrest in the Middle East, in light of the recent military action in Iraq and all the speculation about what Iran will do next, are we safer, are we closer to war, should we leave the region, etc. But before we decide our next move, we should all review the Washington Post reporting from mid-December on the all-too-familiar lack of truth from the government's war machine.
Less than a month ago the Washington Post published an article that in part compared government and military lies and failures in Afghanistan to comparable lies and failures in Vietnam. The reporting was based on a "confidential trove of government documents ... 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."
Thousands of pages from generals, diplomats, aid workers and Afghan officials -- more than 400 individuals in all -- part of an inspector general project aimed at looking into why -- 18 years later -- America was still engaged in Afghanistan, revealed "pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting."
So how bad was it / is it?
Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing....What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.....If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost, who will say this was in vain?”
In December of 2009 President Obama spoke at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, saying, “The days of providing a blank check are over. ... It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.”
So, 11 years later, how has that worked out?
The Washington Post reporting reveals, "Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case."
The National Review follows up the Post's story and concludes, "Donald Rumsfeld: “We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave.” He was right. The United States had almost immediate success in routing the Taliban from Kabul and denying safe havens to al-Qaeda, but met with almost immediate failure in its efforts to create a stable state that would prevent the return of the Taliban and the safe havens for terrorists that it provided absent a continual American presence. We’ve remained in this state of half-success, half-failure ever since."
Try as they might, the spin and outright lies from the U.S. government hasn't worked much better than the Afghanistan "strategy" has but as the New Republic notes " American citizens have failed to punish their government for lying to us and wasting American blood and treasure....In fact, we tend to give the architects of such failures new positions at universities or think tanks, or even advising the next president."
This entire issue need more investigation and wider distribution and ultimately should be used to help determine what we do next in the Middle East.