Afghanistan Papers

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Event.png "leak"
Afghanistan Papers (limited hangout,  official opposition narrative) Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
DescriptionA set of documents published by The Washington Post which constitute an official opposition narrative that the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake.

The Afghanistan Papers are a set of documents, mostly interview transcripts. They were obtained from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) by The Washington Post in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.


The name "papers" invites comparison with the "Pentagon Papers", a set of documents presanted by Daniel Ellsberg about the Vietnam War.


The Washington Post introduced them as:

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.[1]


Caitlin Johnstone, wrote for Consortium News that "it was a very good and newsworthy publication, and those who did the heavy lifting bringing the Afghanistan Papers into public awareness deserve full credit. The frank comments of U.S. military officials plainly stating that from the very beginning this was an unwinnable conflict, initiated in a region nobody understood, without anyone being able to so much as articulate what victory would even look like, make up an extremely important piece of information that is in conflict with everything the public has been told about this war by their government. But the most significant revelation to come out of this story is not in the Afghanistan Papers themselves."[2]

James Corbett was disappointed in reporting and highly critical of the "leak"; he suggested that it was a psychological operation to derail criticism of the war. He stated that he had found nothing revelatory in the papers. He opined that they were intended to seed opposition against the war with the official opposition narrative that it was a "mistake" and "not worth" fighting, because the costs outweighed the gains.[3]


On 8 September 2021, following the Afghanistan/2021 withdrawal, Tejas Mukerji wrote in Bella Caledonia a postcript to the 20-year occupation:

The war in Afghanistan was never a benevolent civilising endeavour. It was the outgrowth of a legitimate response to the trauma of 9/11 that turned into an epic grift for contractors.

When the government you’ve been propping up for 20 years collapses in a fortnight, you were never “nation-building” – you were running a colony. Some of the compradors installed by the coalition escaped with the hundreds of millions of dollars that the occupation enriched them with. Not only was it a misguided mission, but also a deeply incompetent one.

The 2019 Afghanistan Papers released by The Intercept revealed just how much of the occupation was built on a web of lies. Entire military units existed merely on paper. Many people listed as national police personnel existed solely as paper-pushers. Local allied warlords often staged attacks on Western forces in order to maintain their own reliance on them. US troops got sucked into being used to settle personal feuds as people often accused their tribal foes of being Taliban in order to get them whisked away in the dark.

The final note of the occupation was the US military’s response to the ISIS-K attack – to launch an air strike at a car full of children with a former embassy translator (on his way to be evacuated), and then try to pass it off as a success. In that sense, the war ended as it began – with senseless violence against civilians, failure and dishonesty.[4]

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