News and views from inside the media bubble
OBAMA’S AFGHANISTAN PROBLEM
Wikileaks’ release of classified military documents chronicling six years of the war in Afghanistan is a development as significant as the release of the “Pentagon Papers” by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg almost 30 years ago. This is not a sequence of breaking but incomplete stories about casualties and new offensives. Rather, the Afghanistan war log, like the Pentagon Papers, is the secret history of the war, the overall arc. Such a comprehensive review should force us as a nation to assess whether we’re succeeding in Afghanistan, whether the cost in blood and treasure is worth the achievements, whether the war is moral — in short, whether we’re being honest with ourselves.
Predictably, the White House attacked Wikileaks, claiming that the release places American lives in danger and threatens US national security. How so? The Obama administration never says, but makes a point to emphasize that “these irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The administration’s protestations are disingenuous. As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told reporters in London on Monday: “All the material is over seven months old so is of no current operational consequence.”
What is significant about the material is that it appears to add credence to long-discussed concerns that Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence — officially a US ally — has aided insurgents, and, according to the Guardian, includes “unreported incidents of Afghan civilian deaths.”
In other words, the release of information is damaging on a public relations, not an operational level, to the US war effort.
The Obama administration may not be happy about this massive leak, but responsibility for American lives and national security lies in the hands of the war planners. Attacking those who would hold up a mirror to what Assange calls “the everyday squalor of war” is the height of irresponsibility.