Hundreds of pages of official documents, obtained by The Washington Post, show that the United States is losing the war in Afghanistan because it
never had clear objectives, says a report published on Monday.
US officials wanted to use the war to turn Afghanistan into a democracy. Others
wanted to transform Afghan culture and elevate women's rights. Still others
wanted to reshape the regional balance of power among Pakistan, India, Iran and
Russia" the Post observed.
Post spent months investigating this report, which is based on 2,000 pages of
unpublished documents, 600 interviews and thousands of previously classified
memos dictated by former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
confidential documents - obtained through lengthy litigation - reveal that top
US officials misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan in order
to conceal the likelihood of failure in the nearly 20-year effort.
documents also show how US military commanders struggled to define who they
were fighting and why. The answered questions included: "Was Al Qaeda the
enemy, or the Taliban? Was Pakistan a friend or an adversary? What about the
Islamic State and the bewildering array of foreign jihadists, let alone the
warlords on the CIA's payroll?"
40-page report by Marin Strmecki, a civilian adviser to Mr Rumsfeld, identified
corruption and incompetence as the main reasons or the "enormous popular
discontent" against the Afghan government.
documents were part of a lengthy government report titled "Lessons Learned" that examined "the root failures" of the war effort through interviews with
more than 600 people.
interviews show US officials acknowledging that "their warfighting strategies
were fatally flawed, and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money - almost
a trillion dollars - trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation".
of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the US
government to deliberately mislead the public," the Post reported. "They said
it was common at military headquarters in Kabul - and at the White House - to
distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when
that was not the case."
Lute, "a three-star army general who served as the White House's Afghan war
czar" under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told
interviewers that "we were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan - we didn't know what we were doing". Mr Lute asked: "What are we trying to do
here? We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking."