At War with the Truth

By | December 17, 2019

[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.

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  1. Reporter Craig Whitlock is known for breaking news on severe missteps by the U.S. military and senior military personnel.
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

13 thoughts on “At War with the Truth

  1. Dennis Mathes

    Very much an undervalued article. I’m a bit surprised more have not commented here in your forum, Gen. Satterfield. The “truth” is a valuable subject always worth investing time to understand. We humans see the world thru our own eyes and yet see things differently than others. That, however, does not preclude us from speaking about ‘truth’ and coming to an understanding among ourselves.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Correct, Dennis! I too thought the same thing and yet I personally struggle to understand what some “see” as the truth. Good comment. I love this website.

  2. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, excellent article. Let us hope that this is not true.

  3. Max Foster

    I find this so out of character for so many people that perhaps there is a gross exaggeration by the WaPo reporter. I’ve seen this guy’s articles and he displays a bias against the US military that is, frankly, pretty substantial. He always looks for the smallest thing to blow up. True, the US military is not perfect (because it involves people) but they generally have a good handle on how to take care of those who lie,cheat, or steal.

    1. Army Captain

      While I don’t know anything about the reporter from the Washington Post, there is a reputation there that cannot be overlooked. I too question the reporter’s article even if I don’t have the same ideas. Perhaps he could provide more info.

    2. Nick Lighthouse

      I read some of the reports referenced that were official (by the org SIGAR) and thought they were strong but not so overwhelming as shown in the WaPo articles. Yes, there is a long series of them and worth, very much worth, reading in their entirety. Without a thorough read, one should be very careful about drawing such strong conclusions.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      There are so many things we can learn from the Bible but our religious leaders have let us down by not really talking about the underlying meaning or making it interesting. Just like the study of history in school, it’s boring and trite. The best teacher can make it come to life.

      1. Harry Donner

        Yes, we know that you try to make it interesting by showing how to practically apply lessons of the past. Thanks for keeping our children interested in their past and their parents interested in their children’s education.

      2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        Very good Mr. TJ. Wish I’d had a teacher who could make the idea of history sing to me.

    2. Andrew Dooley

      It is really hard to speak the truth. Our society encourages lying although we don’t admit it.

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