From the Left



The US government used lapdogs like the Washington Post to lie about the war in Afghanistan

Ted Rall on

"In ten years or so, we'll leak the truth," the Dead Kennedys sang. "But by then it's only so much paper."

But it might just score you a Pulitzer Prize.

Award bait and bragging rights are no doubt the principal goals of The Washington Post's self-congratulatory data dump, "The Afghanistan Papers." The papers -- 2,000 pages that a court ordered the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to release to Jeff Bezos' newspaper -- paint a Robert McNamara-esque portrait of Bush and Obama administration bozos privately admitting that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was always an unwinnable, counterproductive mistake while also telling the American people that victory in the post-9/11 "good war" was right around the corner. All we had to do was win Afghan hearts and minds.

"The (inspector general) documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting," the Post reported. "Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul -- and at the White House -- to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case."

"The Afghanistan Papers" is a bright, shining lie by omission. Yes, our military and civilian leaders lied to us about Afghanistan. But they could never have spread their murderous nonsense -- causing thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghans to be killed and trillions of dollars wasted -- without media organizations like The Washington Post, which served as unquestioning government stenographers.

Press outlets like the Post and The New York Times weren't merely idiots used to disseminate pro-war propaganda. They actively censored people who tried to tell American voters the truth -- that we never should have gone into Afghanistan .


People like me.

I was among the tiny minority of journalists and commentators who opposed the Afghanistan War from the very beginning. Nine days after 9/11, I published the first of my cartoons pointing out that al-Qaida was in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, so there was no moral or legal justification for invading. As the war dragged on, I pointed out that the men and women in charge of the war didn't have a clue about Afghanistan or the Afghan people. According to "The Afghanistan Papers," those men and women knew they were screwing up, wouldn't admit their ignorance and refused to bring in experts.

I went to Afghanistan to check things out for myself. It was obvious the U.S. didn't stand a chance there. "The principal goal of this adventure in imperialistic vengeance, it seems obvious, should be to install a friendly government in Kabul. But we're winning neither hearts nor minds among either the commoners or the leadership of the current regime apparent," I wrote from Afghanistan on Dec. 11, 2001. "And so we've lost this war, not because they're good or we're not, but because of who we are. The American Empire can't spend the bodies or the time or the cash to fix this crazyass place, because in the final analysis, election-year W. was right -- we're not nation builders ... we ought to tally our dead, write up our losses, and count ourselves lucky to still be called a superpower." My piece, for The Village Voice, was titled "How We Lost Afghanistan."

It was published 18 years ago. But not in the Post. They didn't want to hear what lefties like me had to say.


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