The Washington Post’s previously classified documents on the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan looks set to be one of the key achievements of journalism of the year, if not decades. “Afghan files” showed that the U.S. authorities misled Americans about the possibility of winning the conflict while turning a blind eye to the corruption of local authorities.
The Washington Post published documents about the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan. That’s more than 2,000 pages out of more than 400 interviews conducted with participants from 2014 to 2018.
The interview is part of a huge report by the Office of the U.S. Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, on the causes of U.S. failures. The newspaper has been fighting in the courts for three years for the right to publish under the Freedom of Information Act, and this fight is not over: the materials are not fully disclosed, the majority of respondents are not Identified.
Sopko directly admitted: the documents show that “the Americans constantly lied.”
Important points to be noted
WP materials allow two conclusions. First, US authorities manipulated statistics to convince Americans that the “clearly hopeless” war in Afghanistan was about to be won. Secondly, the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump turned a blind eye to “corruption of the Afghan authorities and the theft of American aid.”
- Since 2001, US spending on operations in Afghanistan has reached a trillion dollars (including civilian projects). The loss of 2,300 people got killed and 20,000 wounded.
- A study of a sample of 3,000 “Afghan” military contracts worth $ 106 million showed that 40% of this amount was stolen.
- Christopher Kolenda, an expert on Afghanistan and a military adviser, said that President Hamid Karzai’s regime had turned into a shameless kleptocracy back in 2006. “Karzai said bluntly that he had bags of dollars brought from the CIA, and he didn’t see anything special about it,” says one of the interviewees.
- U.S. special services, military and State Department bought an alliance of Afghan politicians and “field commanders” with bribes and contracts. The required US vote of deputies in the country’s parliament was also paid.
- The United States chose to turn a blind eye to major fraud in the 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan. Instead, they knocked out Karzai’s losing rival with a bit of authority.
- All reports embellished the situation or were based on incomplete and inaccurate data.
- Many respondents argue that the United States did not understand what conflict got involved and what to do about it.
“When we destroyed Osama bin Laden, I said he was laughing at us from the grave because we spent so much on Afghanistan,” Jeffrey Eggers an adviser to the Bush and Obama administrations said.
The Trump administration has not yet responded to the publication. But it comes at a very awkward time: The US is negotiating with the Taliban and deciding whether to withdraw the remaining 13,000 troops from Afghanistan under assurances of non-deployment basis.