Wikileaks Afghanistan documents: What do they reveal about the war?

Ninety-two thousand Wikileaks documents were provided in advance of their public release today to the NY Times, the Guardian (UK) and Der Spiegel (Germany). 

The NY Times opens with this comment: 

A trove of military documents made public on Sunday by an organization called WikiLeaks reflects deep suspicions among American officials that Pakistan’s military spy service has for years guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants.  Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders…

The reports also chronicle efforts by ISI officers to run the networks of suicide bombers that emerged as a sudden, terrible force in Afghanistan in 2006.

Another NY Times article (there are several based on the leaked documents) says:

The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

The article notes that Stinger surface to air missiles, supplied by the US for use by Afghanis against the Soviets in the 1980s, have been used to take down US aircraft in the current war.

The Guardian mentions hundreds of civilian fatalities caused by troops from the US, France, Poland, the UK etc., for “crimes” including that the bus they were riding in came too close to a convoy.  The Guardian also discusses “how US marines sanitised record of bloodbath.”  The record is replete with many different coverups.

Democracy Now! also covers the leaks, in a roundtable discussion that includes Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers almost 40 years ago).  The Pentagon Papers had a similar impact, in that they provided the military’s unvarnished assessment of its plans and progress in the Vietnam War.

My hope is that these documents lead Americans to independently evaluate the costs of the war (in terms of prestige, treasure and the possibly permanent emotional effects such warfare is having on our own troops), what the best is that we could possibly gain as a nation from continuing the war, and what the justifications are for us to continue this war.

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