After the September 11th terrorist attacks, Americans came together in a way not seen since the Second World War. The nation determined the rubble must be cleared, the dead buried and mourned, the Taliban punished, al Qaeda destroyed, and Osama bin Laden brought to justice. American country music singer, Toby Keith, captured the national mood when he memorably wrote ‘it’s gonna feel like the whole world’s coming down on you/brought to you courtesy of the red, white, and blue.’ The United States struck back with righteous fury against the Taliban, al Qaida, and Osama Bin Laden. According to Gallup, Americans rallied to the government, with 83% reporting that they trusted the government to handle international problems.
At first, American’s trust in their government was well founded. The Pentagon eschewed a large conventional force, there would be no dramatic dropping of the 82nd Airborne Division upon Kabul. Instead, American Special Forces and CIA paramilitaries worked with anti-Taliban warlords and the Northern Alliance. By mid-November, they had taken Kabul and, by the beginning of the New Year, the entire country was theirs. These were smart tactics that minimized American casualties and America’s footprint in the country. The Pentagon replicated these tactics with great success with the Kurds in Northern Iraq in 2003 and with Ethiopian forces against the Somali Islamic Courts Union in 2006-2007.
Unfortunately, after liberating Afghanistan, the Bush Administration decided it had to rebuild the country and otherwise engage in ‘nation building’, something candidate George W. Bush roundly criticized in 2000. Since then, the United States has made a tremendous national commitment of money and troops to Afghanistan. It has spent a trillion dollars in the country. Through November of 2019, 2,300 Americans soldiers have been killed, 1,145 NATO troops, an estimated 42,100 Taliban and other jihadi, and more than 100,000 Afghan troops and civilians. The war goes on.
This week, through The Washington Post, we learned that across three presidential administrations, the United States government has been lying to the American people about the war in Afghanistan. The Washington Post got a hold of the series of reports from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Titled ‘Lessons Learned’, these reports include more than 600 interviews with American military personnel and government officials in Afghanistan. John Sapko, head of SIGAR, told The Washington Post, ‘The American people have consistently been lied to.’ The United States government fought relentlessly for three years to keep SIGAR ‘Lessons Learned’ reports from the American public.
The truth about the American/NATO effort in Afghanistan is this: for 18 years, American policy has shifted, lacked direction, and attempted to do too many things. After ousting the Taliban in 2001, the United States tried to impose a Democratic government on Afghanistan’s warring tribes. The U.S. and NATO spent $133 billion on reconstruction in an attempt to drag Afghanistan into the modern world. In a classic case of ‘mission creep’, American forces tried to eradicate the poppy trade and do-gooders introduced western concepts like ‘women’s rights’ to Afghanistan. In every one of these tasks they failed. Afghanistan is no more a Democracy now than it was in 2001. Afghan government officials and tribal leaders pilfer foreign aid funds at will. The Afghan government is corrupt as is the Afghan National Army which cannot fight the Taliban on its own. The Taliban still occupies large swaths of Afghanistan. Throughout that time, the United States Government has claimed the war was going well, progress was being made, governmental institutions built, and the lives of Afghans improving. The SIGAR ‘Lessons Learned’ reports make it clear the government manipulated facts and numbers and spun events to try to make it seem so.
Also, this week, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) court to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016. The FISA court was long seen as an important tool against international terrorist groups like al Qaida. Instead, the FBI used the court to investigate four members of the Trump campaign. The IG’s report notes 17 instances of ‘inaccuracies and omissions’ in the FBI’s representations to the FISA court and uses words like ‘inaccurate and ‘unsupported’ to describe the FBI’s assertions. The FBI also hid exculpatory evidence from the court in order to ensure FISA warrants were renewed.
Meanwhile, someone got the bright idea to invite Saudi nationals to learn how to fly in the United States, as did Mohamed Atta and his Jihadi Kamikaze pilots before 9/11. This week, one of those Saudi Nationals murdered three American servicemen at the Pensacola Naval Air Station where he trained. Two Saudi’s were arrested for filming the attack. No one noticed that the shooter hosted Jihadi snuff film parties at home.
So much for trusting the government.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.