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Confidential "Afghanistan Papers" Leaked, Revealing Massive U.S. Military Failure

By: Martin Li

· Domestic Policy

On December 9th, 2019, The Washington Post revealed 2,000 pages of unpublished notes conducted by an internal study on the effectiveness of the U.S. military policy and decisions during the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Obtained through a lengthy legal process involving the Freedom of Information Act, the documents reveal insights from key officials on the inner workings of the Bush and Obama administrations during the conflict. The documents seem to reveal that the US government actively tried to mislead the public on the success of the conflict in order to justify spending and resources in the area.

With regards to attempts to justify current troop deployment, one anonymous senior National Security Council official recalled how “it was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture.” In addition, Bob Crowley, a retired Army colonel who advised counter-insurgency efforts during Obama’s second term, stated that “bad news was often stifled,” and that “there was more freedom to share bad news if it was small — we’re running over kids with our MRAPs [armored vehicles] — because those things could be changed with policy directives. But when we tried to air larger strategic concerns about the willingness, capacity or corruption of the Afghan government, it was clear it wasn’t welcome.”
So far, the now dubbed “Afghanistan Papers” have elicited much attention from policy officials. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., has called for Congress to have a “full, open debate on whether or not we should still be at war” during a Fox News segment. In addition, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in an interview with AP on Tuesday, praised the reports, offering criticism towards the US government for using corruption as a “tool,” and stating that he hopes “this becomes an eye-opener to the American people and that the U.S. government begins to change its attitude now toward Afghanistan.”

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