‘Afghanistan Papers’ confirm critics’ worst fears about war

By Steven Greenhut | It’s been 18 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan in what officials promised to be a decisive mission to uproot a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. You’re totally not shocked to learn that things didn’t quite work out as promised, and that the government repeatedly misled the public about its level of success, about the fundamental purpose of the endeavor and just about everything.

Steven Greenhut

Like I said, you’re not surprised. That’s how government behaves – not that many readers believed anti-war libertarians as we warned about such things at the time. I’m surprised it took so long for anyone to notice, and that the latest evidence – a meticulously reported project by the Washington Post – has been met with yawns. It’s hard to compete for attention with the ongoing impeachment proceedings, but the “Afghanistan Papers” should cause heads to roll (or explode).

We’ve all devolved into members of bickering high-school cliques who snipe at each other on social media and don’t trust any information from others, but there are worse things. I recall the morning my wife called me into the TV room to watch the burning World Trade Center. “Uh, I think I better get to the newspaper right away,” I said. For years after those attacks, Americans seemed united as we trusted the government to wage its war on terrorism. A little bit more bickering and distrust might have been a good thing.

On the Orange County Register editorial board, we issued our warnings about overseas commitments – the costs in lives and treasure and the impossibility of turning impoverished backwaters into modern democracies. We were accused of basically being bad Americans. Yet the Afghan and Iraq conflicts turned out pretty much as we and other critics predicted, as the Post report reveals in maddening detail.

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