Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leaked Documents Reveal Grim Picture Of War In Afghanistan

Not since the 1971 Pentagon Papers, which detailed how the government misled the public about Vietnam, have leaked documents caused such an uproar. Wikileaks, which leaks documents online to invite scrutiny of government and corporate actions, has released 92,000 American military reports from January 2004 to December 2009 on the war in Afghanistan. They were revealed in The GuardianDer Spiegel and The New York Times. The latter stated that they depict a deeply troubled operation at variance with the view presented by the Obama administration and the military:

A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.

...The secret documents...are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year.

The documents...illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

...the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

The material comes to light as Congress and the public grow increasingly skeptical of the deepening involvement in Afghanistan and its chances for success as next year’s deadline to begin withdrawing troops looms.

The administration protested that the documents reflect a time before the president's increased troop deployment:

“On Dec. 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on Al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years,” said Gen. James L. Jones, White House national security adviser, in a statement released Sunday.

The administration's statement that there's a new strategy in Afghanistan is belied by the lack of progress this year in this longest war in American history.


Charles said...

Wikileaks is tremendous. And frankly, they have guts in spades.

I haven't had a chance to search through the documents at all yet, but I guess it's nice that secret government papers have shed light on what a lot of people have refused to believe for a while...

the stuff about pakistan concerns me to a great extent though... what of it Jeff?


Jeff Tone said...

Charles, click on The New York Times link to read excerpts from the documents.

I am deeply disturbed to learn that Pakistan, a country that receives a great deal of U.S. aid, has intelligence and military officials who support those who kill American soldiers. Click on the "Pakistani military" link for more information.