The dauntingly large cache of documents detailing the increasing futility of war in Afghanistan doesn't deliver anything new... but gives cause for concern and puts the heat on the rather dubious ally, Pakistan.
Forty years after the spectacular leak of papers which showed the United States political and military establishments were lying to its people over what was really going on in Vietnam, the AfPak drop at the very least begs the question of what the US and its allies are actually achieving in this eight-year-and-counting quagmire.
They are flitting away hundreds billions of dollars, losing a hideous number of soldiers, and killing Afghani civilians. Under their watch various Taliban factions are growing stronger by the day/week/month/year apparently with the help of certain elements within
Surely none of the above was the point of going to, or expanding war in
What this massive drop of classified military information did was confirm much of what was already known. It confirms long held suspicions about the number of civilians killed although delivers more gory details about shooting up civilian busses and weddings, double dealing from crucial players within the Pakistani Intelligence Service, confirms a useless Afghan government/police/military force, all of which adds up to a seemingly hopeless strategy in Afghanistan. In short the cache of documents backs those many calls for tougher scrutiny of this war and perhaps a game plan.
The papers are raw and stripped of political/military spin. In that they make the get-out-of-jail (leave
Plan ‘B’ seems to not yet exist, but ramifications such as a deepening of division within the Democrats over approving billions more via the war-financing bill currently before the Senate could lay the ground for a plan to exit and cut losses.
The blunt message from the Afghan Files is that the war is faring badly…far worse than had been portrayed by military and political hierarchies. Much of that seems to be due to the Taliban/Militants being better armed than taxpayers who are mortgaging their futures had previously been informed.
There’s been much debate over the leak itself. The
There is no doubt that ‘WikiLeaks’ had the real deal in terms of actual battlefield reports, and despite the rather unpleasant smugness of the site’s founder Julian Assange – including his fanciful declaration that these are the new Pentagon Papers - there seems to have been much thought put in to what should be made public by Assange and the three international newspapers he gave the material to – the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel.
All four hold that they never published anything that would endanger the lives of any soldiers in combat. Of that we will never really know but they have refrained from publishing thousands of the 92,000 documents available.
They gave cause for a few hawks around the world to find a platform from which to all too predictably condemn them for publishing illegally obtained information, and from that you can deduce it was palpably close to the action.
In the last seven months the
So what does Obama do? Cutting the aid line to
The papers do of course make poignant note that the reason to wage war in the first place has disappeared. Osama bin Laden – the new ‘Where’s Wally’ is nowhere to be found…and much is made of that…and the best guess is that he and his mates have left
That of course must turn the spotlight on bin Laden’s native
And there’s the rub. The number of militants thought to still be operating in
If that leads to an overwhelming public outcry, then the WikiLeaks guru may have a strange little victory in terms of playing a part in fueling public skepticism to the point it becomes politically intolerable to stay in this particular theatre of war.
Peering through the fog however, it has to be said at this stage the AfPak Papers tell us pretty much what we already knew, but add more examples in an uncut version, and further implicate
Elements within the military will be worried about the nature of some of the information in terms of operations but will hardly detail those concerns. At this point you wouldn’t bet Granny’s life on Pakistan being as loyal as it professes nor Karzai’s ability to run a clean ship; the body count – civilian and military - will increase; it’ll cost billions more; the public will lose the will to continue the fight; eventually the US led coalition will pull out; Osama bin Laden will die – probably of natural causes.