Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lying about a failed war

Since invading in 2001, the US has consistently claimed that their war in Afghanistan has been going well, even when it continued year after year after year. Of course, they were lying, and thanks to the Washington Post and the US Freedom of Information Act, we get to see just how big those lies were:

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.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

This was a war that cost a trillion dollars and at least 120,000 Afghan lives, plus ~3,000 or so invaders and occupiers. And they had no idea what they were even trying to achieve, let alone how to do it. The sheer folly and waste is appalling. And meanwhile, statistics were manipulated and lies told to keep the public in the dark about it.

There's an obvious parallel with the Pentagon Papers, which exposed similar folly and lies about the US's involvement in Vietnam. But they had to be leaked; here, they were obtained under the FOIA - though only after the Post had gone to court twice. You'd hope that this exposure would lead to some accountability, or at least some change - but the US political system is so utterly dysfunctional that that seems highly unlikely. They won't learn anything, and it'll be all aboard for the next endless war.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has blown at least $300 million and ten lives on this shitshow, a war our "allies" knew was a failure all along. And yet, we kept contributing year after year. I'm wondering now whether NZDF ever did a similar "lessons learned" exercise, or had any assessment of their actual progress, and if so, whether it was shared with the Ministers signing off on those continued deployments. And no matter what the answer to that is, its not going to look good for anyone.