Switch on any of the major news networks, and you’ll see the screen flooded with bright graphics and various arguments around the ever-so-controversial Impeachment Proceedings. While significant given that Donald Trump is a dangerous, destructive human being, there are other matters more crucial for American viewers, issues occurring abroad, and in our own country.
The corporate media blackout on matters that range from a general strike in France whose participants number in the millions, to the current revolt against Neo-Liberal austerity in Chile, is jarring, especially when one forgotten topic could shake up the Impeachment Proceedings. The subject is the release of the Afghanistan Papers, a topic which exposes the faults of both Republicans and Democrats.
For over 18 years, one after another, officials from both sides of the isle lied to the American public about the War in Afghanistan, spending trillions on a war that resulted in nothing more than record profits for the defense industry at the expense of millions of lives. The American war machine quickly became the most destructive and profitable business in the world, and as profits rose, a cache of documents to rival the Pentagon Papers began to emerge.
Leaked by the Washington Post at the beginning of December, the release of 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes and interviews were quickly forgotten by the corporate media in favor of Impeachment coverage. While the issue of Impeachment is important, the War in Afghanistan has been raging far longer than any other foreign war, and when a document of this caliber is revealed to the public, it should be warranted at least a little airtime.
The document is made up of notes taken from interviews with generals, diplomats, aid workers and Afghan officials. It shows that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and officials from their administration were unable to live up to their promises to prevail in Afghanistan and that many facts we know about the war, were made up to make things appear better than they are.
Featuring quotes from individuals such as Douglas Lute, an Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan War czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, they paint a bleak understanding of the destructive conflict from the point of view of those who played a direct role.
The leak brings spending into account on many occasions, with those interviewed expressing frustration over the vast sum spent trying to, as the Post puts it, “remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.” Concerns about spending can be backed up by a $975 billion spending bill, according to The Balance Magazine.
It’s important to remember that the above number doesn’t take into account the total spending for the base budget for the Department of Defense which has grown by close to $250 billion, and the Department of Veterans Affairs budget which also grew by about $50 billion, both of which can connect spending increased to the ongoing wars. The fact that the Pentagon also failed both audits since 2018, further complicates the spending numbers, showing that the “how will we pay for it” doesn’t really apply to spending money on war.
The leaked documents also show uncertainty toward the conflict in Afghanistan and on the United States’ ability to accomplish it’s end goals. Quotes from individuals that include Disgraced former General Michael Flynn, essentially show that the truth was never accepted concerning the status of the mission in Afghanistan, leaving out issues of corruption in favor reporting facts that made things seem as though they are going well.
Quoted in The Washington Post’s release of the papers, Bob Crowley, a retired Army colonel who was a counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan from 2013–2014, stated, “Bad news was often stifled. There was more freedom to share bad news if it was small — we’re running over kids with our MRAPs [armored vehicles] — because those things could be changed with policy directives. But when we tried to air larger strategic concerns about the willingness, capacity or corruption of the Afghan government, it was clear it wasn’t welcome.”
The complete leak of the Washington Post’s documents contains more interviews and data than can be included in a post, and go into deep detail about what occurred behind the scenes in Afghanistan. While reports of a similar caliber have rippled across the American media in the past, this leak is similar to that of the Panama Papers in that it has largely been forgotten by the mainstream press.
No matter its budget, or it’s staff size, a media platform is supposed to be a watchdog for the community it serves, to seek truth and report it. Yet, in a world of both sides’ rhetoric, the idea of the truth has been confused with fairness, and in a time when the news revolves more around profits and creating a buzz, real stories are often forgotten because they are not profitable.
The truth in question is not always nice, and does not always fall in line with certain narratives, but, it is still the truth and should be reported that way. The President of the United States lied about an illegal war on multiple occasions across multiple administrations; this is the truth and should be treated that way.
If the Impeachment Proceedings can receive days of coverage, while the Ukraine Documents are picked apart word by word, why was the same treatment not given to the Afghanistan Papers?