Officials from three administrations fed the American public a steady stream of lies about the progress in Afghanistan even though they knew the efforts were failing, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The documents show interviews with numerous generals, diplomats, and top officials revealing that officials knew that there was no real strategy to win in Afghanistan but waged a PR effort to downplay their failures.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing. What are we trying to do here?” Bush and Obama’s Afghan war czar Gen. Douglas Lute said in one interview. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking. … If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction. … Who will say this was in vain?”
18 years later, 13,000 troops remain in Afghanistan:
When Bush announced the invasion, the timeline was between “a month” and a “year or two.” The war has not ended.
More than 775,000 troops have been deployed to Afghanistan. Of those, 2,300 have died and 20,589 were wounded.
The Pentagon spent nearly $1 trillion in Afghanistan, not counting the funds spent by the CIA and other agencies.
Just 35% of Americans say the war effort “mostly succeeded” while 49% believe it “mostly failed.”
The report showed that billions in aid was stolen, Afghan troops trained by US forces were described as “incompetent, unmotivated, and rife with deserters,” and there were multiple political initiatives to make troops surges seem successful “despite hard evidence to the contrary.”
Gen. Petraeus pushes back:
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who led the US forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, told The Daily Beast that he stands “by the assessments I provided as the commander in Afghanistan.”
“The security gains, while very hard fought and fragile, were indisputable,” he said. “We clearly reversed the momentum the Taliban had on the battlefield (they had been steadily taking districts from Coalition and Afghan forces for several years prior to 2010).”
“And Afghans were definitely fighting and dying for their country. Was it all hard all the time? Yes, without question,” he added. “Were there frustrations with corruption and numerous other issues? Absolutely, there were endless frustrations, among them the sanctuaries that the insurgent elements had in neighboring Pakistan. That said, there was undeniable progress on the security front, and I stand by what I told Congress and the national security team during that time.”