[December 17, 2019] Recent evidence from the War in Afghanistan points to a deliberate, concerted effort by senior leaders in the U.S. Government to lie about the war’s progress. In a recent new article titled “At War with the Truth” by Craig Whitlock,1 a Washington Post reporter, wrote that “U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it.”
This claim is a severe charge. Military leaders are supposed to be meticulous about telling the truth. The reason is simple and long-standing. The role of a military is to protect the population from threats and the naked truth ensures the military-protective mission remains on a solid foundation. Lying destroys confidence in leads, seeds mistrust, and hurts any attempt at being honest.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan – we didn’t know what we were doing.” – U.S. Army Lieutenant General Douglas Lute2
I will assume for the time being that the Washington Post (WaPo) article is accurate because I have no contrary evidence. I’m usually hesitant to believe the newspaper because WaPo has a well-known liberal bias when it reports on military issues. Yet, the evidence presented is overwhelming. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reports are also offered on this issue and I’ve read them.
The WaPo article presents us with a serious cultural contradiction; U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war throughout the 18-year campaign. Furthermore, these same officials made “rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”
Providing false information and hiding evidence to the contrary, is so egregious that these same senior officials can no longer be trusted. The only step would be to remove them from their positions of authority and quickly. Will this be done? I lack the conviction anything of the sort will happen soon but, if accurate, the military and other government agencies involved are obligated to investigate and act reasonably fast.
Several of those interviewed by SIGAR described explicitly and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to mislead the public about the war deliberately. This effort included data tampering and placing confidence in meaningless surveys. Any consistent lying to the public or even distorting of the truth means an accounting is overdue.
The U.S. military and other U.S. government agencies involved should set into place practices and procedures that are designed to ferret out such lies and stop them. Anything else is an injustice to those who fought in the Afghanistan War.
- Reporter Craig Whitlock is known for breaking news on severe missteps by the U.S. military and senior military personnel.