A Washington Post report this week (reposted here) has exposed the US war in Afghanistan as a vile charade. Declassified government papers reveal notes and interviews by hundreds of senior US officials which attest to systematic lies and deception in the conduct of that war. The GW Bush and Obama administrations are directly implicated in hoodwinking the American people about why the US went to war in Afghanistan in October 2001. Nearly two decades later, that war is continuing under the Trump administration with no sign of stopping.
Close to 150,000 people have been killed in this war, including 38,000 civilians. Afghanistan is mired in violence and corruption under a puppet regime propped up by Washington. The financial cost of the conflict is reckoned to exceed $1 trillion, which generations of American citizens will pay for through the ensuing national debt.
Senior American politicians and military leaders, from Presidents George W Bush to Barack Obama, from former Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Leon Panetta, to generals David Petraeus and Douglas Lute, are implicated in waging an illegal war behind the backs of the American people. The Trump administration is also implicated because it continues to pursue this war. Indeed, there has been a surge in civilian deaths from US air strikes on Afghanistan since Donald Trump took over the presidency in 2017. Yet, as the Washington Post report makes clear, the entire war is a fraud. It was never about “fighting terrorism”, as the declassified interviews of US policymakers reveal. America is in a quagmire from which it doesn’t know how to extricate itself. It is not just an endless war; it is an endless criminal war.
The revelations about the Afghan war should be an earth-shattering moment for all politicians in Washington and the entire US news media. So far, only a handful of lawmakers such as Democrat Representative Ro Khanna are reportedly making an outcry. They are calling for Congressional hearings and for former government officials to be grilled in testimony. The chances are, however, that nothing will be done to hold politicians and military commanders to account. Like other major scandals, such as proven CIA torture programs, the Afghan war debacle will be allowed to fade away by Washington and corporate media indifference.
By contrast is the extravagance of taxpayer money, political energy and media attention that has been showered on relatively minor scandals.
Take “Russiagate” and the relentless, unfounded claims about Russian interference in US elections. A two-year report by special counsel Robert Mueller produced thin gruel to satisfy voracious appetites for Russian malfeasance. The hysterical conspiracy theories and media hyperbole against Russia continue to dominate, as can be discerned from the impeded bilateral relations, whereby Moscow is treated like an enemy. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the White House this week – nearly two-and-half years after his last visit – it was evident that progress on important negotiations, such as arms control, is still frustrated by the toxic legacy of “Russiagate”.
Another illustration of cognitive dissonance in Washington and the mainstream US media is the impeachment inquiry against Trump. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has formally charged the president with impeachable offenses concerning a phone call with Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump is accused of abusing his office for personal political gain. Many within his Republican party are not convinced by the impeachment case against Trump. It will no doubt be terminated when it goes to a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The amount of political and media capital expended on “Russiagate” and what has been dubbed “Ukrainegate” is wildly disproportionate to the scant or slight evidence. The outcome so far is damaging to relations between the US and Russia, and may hamper the chances of a peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian conflict. President Vladimir Putin met with Zelensky in Paris this week for much-needed peace talks. But American politicians obsessed by Ukrainegate are undermining a potential resolution by falsely portraying Russia as an aggressor.
When something as flagrantly and hugely criminal as the war in Afghanistan – the longest-ever American war – is virtually ignored, while Washington fixates on issues like Russiagate and impeachment based on dubious claims, then we should know that the US political institutions are dysfunctional to their core.