July 27, 2010
The tens of thousands of classified military documents posted on the Internet Sunday confirm what critics of the war in Afghanistan already knew or suspected: We are wading deeper into a long-running, morally ambiguous conflict that has virtually no chance of ending well.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The Obama administration, our NATO allies and the Afghan government responded to the documents—made public by a gadfly organization known as Wikileaks—by saying they tell us nothing new. Which is the problem.
We already had plenty of evidence that elements within Pakistan’s intelligence services were giving support and guidance to the Taliban insurgency inside Afghanistan, even though Pakistan is supposed to be our ally in the fight against the terrorists. The newly released documents don’t provide conclusive proof, but they do give a sense of how voluminous the evidence is. “American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators,” according to The New York Times, one of three news organizations—along with The Guardian and Der Spiegel—with which Wikileaks shared the documents in advance.
We already knew that U.S. and other coalition forces were inflicting civilian casualties that had the effect of enraging local villagers and often driving them into the enemy camp. The documents merely reveal episodes that were previously unpublicized—an October 2008 incident in which French troops opened fire on a bus near Kabul and wounded eight children, for example, and a tragedy two months later when a U.S. squad riddled another bus with gunfire, killing four passengers and wounding 11 others.
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