Classified Data Exposes
a Senseless Afghan War
A trove of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, leaked to three major global newspapers over the weekend, is renewing questions about the validity of that conflict, while shedding a new light on some of the reasons for its overextended duration and the staggering human toll it’s exacting.
With the six-year secret reports the Wikileaks Website obtained without disclosing how and made available to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, a much darker picture of that war effort began to emerge. Since the three newspapers started pouring over the docs, three major factors took center stage.
The war has no support from Afghanis for quite some time now. Osama bin Laden has been very much active behind the scenes of insurgence acts against U.S. troops. And, as it’s been feared since its inception, the Pakistani secret service is actively engaged in the insurgency, despite the more than $1 billion a year the country gets from the U.S. to combat militants.
The seriousness of such disclosures, which come to light less than a week after the U.S. Senate approved another $60 billion for the campaign, are provoking a no small cataclysm in Washington but it’s not clear how much of it has been getting through to the Pentagon. In fact, as soon as news about the report broke, a concerted effort to discredit its source has started and Wikileaks has already being accused of putting American lives at risk with its disclosure.
The Web site is fighting back, claiming that revelations contained in the documents, such as Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against Taliban figures, are liable to be considered war crimes, and that it has plenty more to release. The White House, the U.K. and Pakistan have all condemned the release of the 91 thousand pages of classified data but not surprisingly, the Karzai administration said it is “shocked” about the revelations but they are not new.
To be fair, “shocked” doesn’t begin to describe the disgust and revulsion anyone exposed to what happens in any war would feel. The daily carnage, the anonymous killings, the friendly fire victims have all been part of such grim reality since the first conflict was ever started.
It may be underreported by the news media, so busy covering Angelina and Lance and Chelsea Clinton. It may be ignored by politicians who will send everyone but their own children to die defending their ambitions. It may be criminally disguised as patriotism or opportunities at heroism or short-cuts at social promotion by rulers without scruples. But it’s anything less than cruel, salvage and ultimately unjust.
There’re wars and there’re wars though. This one in Afghanistan should’ve been fought and won over and by now all be done with in the months following 9/11. Instead, it was interrupted by the senseless invasion of Iraq and the rest is a history in badly need to be told and retold and written and memorialized over and over again, given how easy the collective memory is manipulated to serve the interests of the powerful these days. Actually, just like it ever was.
So it may be up to the fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and families and social communities of those lost in Afghanistan to lead the charge and take where this report is bound to leave off. We don’t even need a complete, insightful, ultimately truth to be told, just a few of them, perhaps, so we can all have the survivors back home in time for a hot meal and the rebuilding of this country, which more than ever, needs them here not there.
The manipulators are already at it, make no mistake. They’ve been busy, trying to shoot the messenger for quite some time now, so the message gets so soaked in more innocent blood that no one can tell what was about in the first place. Because they know well that these revelations can be to this war what the Daniel Ellsberg papers were for the Vietnam war in the 1970s. And that can spell an end for their war profiting and amoral motives.
Above all, let’s not get too wrapped up into the gory details and let’s fight for the big picture. This war in Afghanistan is as unwinnable as the Vietnam conflict was, and equally as senseless as the are objectives in Iraq, and has the same grim daily toll of wasted American lives as any of the above will never be able to be proud of. It’s already become the U.S.’s longest, and there hasn’t been a single achievement anyone can invoke in its defense.
The tide is turning fast. Let’s bring our kids back home soon before they start to be killed by those they’re told to trust. If there was anything worthwhile in this war, we would’ve known about within the first three years. Just as it happened with the World War II, which besides stopping another terror threat on its tracks, also managed to forge one of the greatest generations of Americans.