Thanks to Daniel Ellsberg, who risked much to make the record of the Vietnam War public [a terribly unpopular thing], we learned about the madness that Holbrooke and others were creating. We should be grateful to the whistle-blowers who gave us the Afghanistan war documents for once again letting us in on the sick joke that passes for U.S foreign policy.
What the documents exposed is the depth of chicanery that surrounds the Afghanistan occupation at every turn because we have stumbled into a regional quagmire of such dark and immense proportions that any attempt to connect this failed misadventure with a recognizable U.S. national security interest is doomed.
What is revealed on page after page is that none of the local actors, be they labeled friend or foe, give a whit about our president’s agenda. They are focused on prizes, passions and causes that are obsessively homegrown.
Our fixation on al-Qaida has nothing to do with them.
President Barack Obama’s top national security adviser admitted as much when he said last December that there were fewer than 100 of those foreign fighters left in Afghanistan. Those who do remain in the region are hunkered down in Pakistan, and as the leaked documents reveal, that nation is just toying with us by pretending to cooperate while its intelligence service continues to support our proclaimed enemies. As Gen. Stanley McChrystal made clear in his famous report, the battles in Afghanistan are tribal in nature and the agendas are local—be they about drugs, religion or the economic power of military blackmail.
The documents contain a steady drumbeat of local hustles that are certainly deadly but rise to the level of a national security threat against the U.S. only when we insist on making their history our own.