December 16, 2019
The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers was met with deafening silence because most astute observers already knew the U.S. military had painted a false picture of the war, not to mention the fact the document dump was released to an indifferent American public. That said, the documents still shine a bright light on the incompetence and corruption that drove the policymaking process in the White House, the Pentagon and Congress.
The documents, published on December 9, amount to clear indictments of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and scores of senior officials in both administrations who all deceived the public on what was really going on inside Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
However, U.S. Congress is equally as responsible for enabling these destructive policies including by approving around $1 trillion for the war, a high percentage of which was lost to waste and corruption, according to the documents.
At a minimum, one would hope the indicting report could help accelerate an end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Hopefully it will open the eyes of lawmakers in Congress in both political parties who have tried to interfere in efforts to bring the conflict to an end, largely because they sold their souls to the defense industry.
According to the documents, aid workers blamed Congress for what they saw as “a mindless rush to spend.” And to what end? This question was aptly posed in the documents by former Navy SEAL Jeffrey Eggers, who was a White House staffer for both Obama and Bush.
“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Eggers told government interviewers. “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”
Another question is whether or not this will be a wakeup call for members of Congress who during the course of the past year have been an obstacle to peace. Part of the problem is purely political – even Democrats are now opposing a drawdown all because it is President Donald Trump’s idea and they want to prevent this president from accomplishing anything.
At the beginning of the year, Congress overwhelming passed a bipartisan resolution that opposed any accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from either Afghanistan or Syria.
And in November, Congress had the audacity to introduce restrictions on the White House’s ability to negotiate a ceasefire with the Taliban. The measure if passed would require the president to consult with Congress before extracting U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the Afghanistan Papers are nothing like the Pentagon Papers. For starters, the Washington Post pursued and released the documents through legal channels without resistance from the White House. So, there was no high drama like the Pentagon Papers release when the Nixon administration fought incessantly to squash its publication.
Another factor, as alluded to, is the fact that the Afghanistan Papers revealed nothing new in terms of substance, unlike the Pentagon Papers which shocked the entire nation and helped expedite the end of the Vietnam War. However, besides the fact that the war in Afghanistan has been much less bloody than the one in Vietnam, there is no draft today – the U.S. military today relies on an all-volunteer professional fighting force and private contractors. So not all of America’s sons and daughters are at threat of being placed in harm’s way.
Because of this, American lawmakers will not feel significant pressure from their constituents, who should be demanding an end to the war.
Moreover, Congress’ current obsession with the impeachment crisis has come at the expense of all other matters of importance. Instead of focusing 24/7 on trying to impeach Trump they should be holding hearings and demanding the Pentagon to explain why they are continuing to lie about the war. Congress should use all the resources at its disposal to get the generals to admit the war is a lost cause and force the Pentagon to bear all and become completely transparent.
Former State Department Political Officer Matthew Hoh, who also served as a marine captain in Afghanistan, told Sputnik that the document release should serve as a “smoking gun” that Trump could use to strengthen his argument to end the war and convince Congress to step aside.
Yet, this will not happen because of all the factors we mentioned above. Above all, it is hard for lawmakers to demand a complete withdrawal because too many people are making money and advancing their own personal interests, a reality summed up effectively by the former diplomat.
“U.S. generals, diplomats and officials on all levels up to the Oval Office have spun facts and misrepresented the actual progress being made with the war in Afghanistan in order to keep the American empire… and, presumably, in order to keep and further their careers,” Hoh concluded.