The Washington Post released excerpts from a federal government investigation into the war in Afghanistan that shows that previous administrations grossly misrepresented the campaign to the American public. Not an isolated incident, the report contains many examples of government and military officials releasing deliberately misleading information.
Retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Afghan liaison officer for Presidents GW Bush and Obama, said the US was “devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan.” He added, “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.” Despite this, a narrative was built to depict a successful war — even after it had become unwinnable.
Jeffrey Eggers, a former Navy SEAL who also worked for Bush and Obama, questioned whether the war had been worth the estimated $1 trillion cost and conjectured Osama bin Laden is probably “laughing in his watery grave” at how much the US has spent. Colonel Bob Crowley, a US Army counterinsurgency expert, told the investigation that “every data point was altered to present the best picture possible.”
The Post drew a parallel to government actions during the Vietnam War when officials focused on demographics which made it appear as if the US were winning — for example inflating the infamous “body count” — but ignored the reality that the enemy was gaining control over ever-larger areas of the country.
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