The extraordinary WikiLeaks dump of some 91,000 classified reports into the public sphere on America’s war in Afghanistan may be the game-changer in American support for a war that continues to worsen.
This is the “Pentagon Papers moment” in this contemporary war, and it will force President Obama and his team to go back and review first principles about the objectives of this war.
LBJ escalated the Vietnam War that he felt politically unable to escape.
The question is whether President Obama has the backbone and temerity to reframe this engagement and stop the hemorrhaging of American lives and those of allies as well as the gross expenditure of funds for a war that shows a diminished America that is killing hundreds of innocent people and lying about it, of an enemy that is animated and funded in part by our supposed allies in Pakistan, and US tolerance for a staggering level of abuse, incompetence and corruption in our Afghan allies in the Karzai government.
These revelations confirm what the Afghan War skeptics have been arguing for some time — and completely invalidate those who have been promulgating a rosier view of outcomes inside Afghanistan and trying to sell the false illusion that American partnership with Afghanistan is working. Regrettably, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin — while formally opposed to the surge of combat forces into Afghanistan — has been one most blind to the failures of US-Afghan partnering rather than the successes, of which he so often speaks.
Daniel Ellsberg once told me (see TWN entry for September 28, 2004) that he hoped that a bureaucrat or soldier or spy would eventually take out of his or her safe the several feet thick pile of classified files on America’s ‘war on terror’ and put them out to the public. He said that this person — whoever it might be — would need enormous public support as the downside risks to one’s career and life were staggering given the State’s desire to squelch the nastier truths of war reaching the public.
Ellsberg’s hope has now become a reality — and when we eventually learn of the hero and/or heroes who brought this material to the public — he or they will need society’s thanks and support as the State will work to crush those that made this happen.
— Steve Clemons