New documents published by the Washington Post have revealed a legacy of failure to accomplish anything meaningful in the United States’ seemingly endless war in Afghanistan.
The Post obtained the documents, first compiled in 2014, through a two year Freedom of Information Act legal battle against the government. The documents were created through a project titled “Lessons Learned,” from which upper echelons of the United States military and federal government hoped to avoid repeating another experience akin to that in Afghanistan.
The United States has had a military presence in the Central Asian nation since 2001, and more than 2,300 Americans have died in the longest war in the country’s history.
In the documents, senior government officials openly admit that the United States has failed to make progress on accomplishing any major objectives related to its presence in Afghanistan. Not only that, but the purpose of the American presence there is largely unclear. Senior government and military officials are unable to describe specific objectives or goals for American forces.
One document openly admitted that any progress in eroding the Taliban presence in Afghanistan almost immediately disappeared after American troops left the area. “Successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians.”
Various high ranking U.S diplomats, State Department officials, and military officers were interviewed by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a bureaucratic entity set up in 2008 as a watchdog for the American mission in Afghanistan.
The documents indicate that senior military and federal officials have consistently overstated the effectiveness of the American presence in the country. Officials have been caught cooking the books and over-inflating the impact of the ongoing military presence.
Despite an American presence that has lasted eighteen years, Afghanistan remains a highly unstable country with weak democratic institutions. So-called western values of secular liberalism and the rule of law have little to no grasp there.
One U.S diplomat named James Dobbins clearly nailed the failure of the seemingly endless American project in Afghanistan.
“We don’t invade poor countries to make them rich. We don’t invade authoritarian countries to make them democratic. We invade violent countries to make them peaceful and we clearly failed in Afghanistan.”
President Trump made a decision to continue the endless, vague, and seemingly pointless war in 2017. However, he’s recently restarted negotiations with the Afghan Taliban that could finally lead to a real end to what may be the most pointless and counterproductive ongoing war in America’s history.
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