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The worst and the dullest


After a fierce legal battle, the Washington Post has published the results of a massive multi-year government investigation into the actual facts surrounding prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, and the government’s own coverup of those facts:

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

 Part 1: At war with the truth
INTERVIEWS AND MEMOSExplore the documentsKey insiders speak bluntly about the failures of the longest conflict in U.S. history
POST REPORTS‘We didn’t know what the task was’Hear candid interviews with former ambassador Ryan Crocker and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
THE FIGHT FOR THE DOCUMENTSAbout the investigationIt took three years and two federal lawsuits for The Post to pry loose 2,000 pages of interview records
PART 1At war with the truthU.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it.
PART 2Stranded without a strategyBush and Obama had polar-opposite plans to win the war. Both were destined to fail.
PART 3Built to failDespite vows the U.S. wouldn’t get mired in “nation-building,” it has wasted billions doing just that
PART 4Consumed by corruptionThe U.S. flooded the country with money — then turned a blind eye to the graft it fueled
PART 5Unguarded nationAfghan security forces, despite years of training, were dogged by incompetence and corruption
PART 6Overwhelmed by opiumThe U.S. war on drugs in Afghanistan has imploded at nearly every turn

In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

The parallels with the Vietnam war are striking.

What will come of this? Given that the one thing the military did learn from Vietnam is that conscripting middle and upper class kids into a pointless war tends to make that war politically unpopular, while fighting it with an all “volunteer” military tends to make its cost far more palatable to those privileged enough to avoid almost all that cost, my guess is “nothing.”

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