Not Really Secret

The big buzz this morning is over a massive release of classified documents on the war in Afghanistan from the website Wikileaks. Wikileaks is a loosely organized association headquartered in Sweden that was “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa,” its website says. This is according to Wikipedia, as the Wikileaks site is down at the moment.

Via Steve Benen, Michael Crowley’s assessment is that the documents don’t tell us anything new.

It’s never been a secret, for instance, that the Taliban have proven more resilient than anyone expected; that U.S. special forces hunt and eliminate Taliban leaders without the courtesy of a fair trail; that elements within our putative ally Pakistan play a sinister double game with radical Islamists; that our troops kill innocent Afghans on a regular basis. It’s not even a secret, as anyone familiar with the Pat Tillman saga knows, that the military sometimes manipulates facts about the war.

Once again, we’re learning that the days in which one could subdue and pacify an enemy through warfare are over. For the benefit of any rightie who happens to wander into this blog: Nations fight to maintain their territory and their sovereignty, and when that is no longer tenable there is not much left for them to do but surrender and agree to terms. When the enemy is not a nation, but a movement, or hostile organizations not tied to anyone territory and not under the authority of any one government, that’s not the case.

16 thoughts on “Not Really Secret

  1. This is news only in the fact that in proves what we’ve long suspected is true.
    Among other “revelations,” that Pakistan helping the Taliban! SHOCKING!!!
    What is our mission there?
    What is our goal?
    A unified Afghanistan able to self-govern?
    A noble thought.
    Afghanistan has long been a geographic area ruled by different tribes, who have warred with one another for thousands of years.
    How do you unify those tribes?
    Easy, attack the geographic area and the tribes unite against the invader. Once the invader leaves, as they always have, usually signifigantly poorer if not wiser, the tribes go back to warring with one another until some other country with a dim bulb for a leader decides that going in there is a great idea because he’s smarter , he’s better, and Gosh darn it, he’s good enough to do what Alexander the Great, the British, Tsarist Russian, and the USSR (amongst others) couldn’t.
    You have a better chance of lemmings learning lessons of leadership than Afghanistan unifying and forming a stable government.
    Oh, but Hell, I’m a pessimist.
    And I’m sure there’s some right-wing optimist on this subject who would be glad to lecture me about this subject. I’ll save you the trouble. If your ass ain’t or wasn’t over there in harms way living up to your words, save me the trouble and shut-up.
    Get out! NOW!!!

  2. You have a better chance of lemmings learning lessons of leadership

    Excellent alliteration!

  3. It true that, from a general standpoint, the leaked documents merely confirm what we knew all along; but their true value is in the specifics. They tell us much about specific actions and conditions in the battlefield that was not publicly known previously. I’m looking forward to the fallout as this information is processed by people who know what to do with it.

  4. Ironic (heartbreakingly) that wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, but the U.S. has been the nation most notably caught misbehavin’.

  5. Swami,
    Thank you. I appreciate it. I was afraid I’d hear from some “nattering nabob of negativism” about that line…

  6. There was never a time in history when you could occupy and pacify native populations purely by force. The Romans should have taught us that much.

    The Afghanistan occupation has been mostly an exercise in feeding the beast. Only the more you feed it, the more it hungers. How many people need to die before Afghanistan is declared “secure”?

    The sad part is, for the amount we’ve spent in nine years we might have been able to do something to unify the various tribes in Afghanistan. That is, if we hadn’t kept bombing civilian homes and structures time and time again. If we hadn’t tortured and kidnapped dozens of people. If we had focused most of our money and effort on education and infrastructure projects. If we had taught our soldiers the native language and culture so they could understand and communicate. If we had set a very clear and detailed timeline and stuck to the goals set in it. If we hadn’t gotten into a second and totally unrelated occupation two countries away.

    If only.

  7. Just a small bump on the road to victory. We’ll be out of Afghanistan by 2017 or shortly thereafter. We’ve only spent 300 billion so far, but with the wasteful spending pace picking up to 100 billion a year we should be reaching that trillion dollar mark around 2017. I think at a trillion dollars we’ll call it a victory. It’s gonna be a grand victory..I hope the Marine Corp Band plays When Johnny comes marching home on the National mall as part of the victory celebration…I love that song.

  8. Listening to NPR this morning, I was amazed at how skeptical their interviewee was of Wikileaks, considering the slow-walking of information done by the military/government sources that don’t get questioned at such a root level.

    Someone on a website referred to NPR as National Pentagon Radio, and I certainly was struck by the way their unusually strict analysis of Wikipedia’s very being contrasted against their lesser discussion of its facts (some of which they admitted to), that NPR had not been terribly aggressive in ferreting out. Had NPR obtained these documents, would we even have heard of them?

    I’m a sustaining member of public radio, but I’m thinking I need to be more vocal about their content. I love some of what they do, but I wonder how much they’re not doing.

    And Afghanistan? Didn’t we learn anything from the Russian debacle? I don’t think a bunch of young warriors trained for physical battle are the only/best solution there. And Pakistan? What is the difference between that and Afghanistan, except a matter of degree?

    I look forward to more information on these documents.

    • I saw FAUX report this morning that they still need to verify information leaked before they will report on it!

      Oooo, too funny.

  9. Once again, I will link to the guru of Central Asia, Mr. Eric Margolis.
    He has just been fired from the Toronto Sun.
    His books “War at the Top of the World” and “American Raj” ‘splain exactly why “we” will never win a war against the Pashtu tribe, something that was recently “leaked” on NPR’s Dianne Rheim’s show.
    We have been bombarded with bull shit regarding “The Taliban”, “Insurgents” and “Militants”. They are all resistance fighters that want infidels off their lands, not unlike the “hillbillies” protecting their turf in the hinterlands. Obama needs to get a clue on this, pronto.

  10. I think success could have been had by two methods. One, the classical, practiced by Mahmud of Ghazan, Durrani and Timur. Mountains of skulls. The other would be more acceptable but would have required 8 years of administration non-fuck ups. I think Obama’s strategy might have worked too had it been implemented in early 2002, but I don’t think it will work now.

    However I was and still am willing to give Obama’s strategy a chance till midsummer of ’11.

  11. The US needs to get out of Afghanistan NOW.
    No more passes on “Strategies”.
    A stupid idea will not magically transform into good no matter who is at the helm.

  12. “However I was and still am willing to give Obama’s strategy a chance till midsummer of ’11”

    Yeah you know the wing-nuts stumbled upon some unusual wisdom last year when they chided Obama for setting the 7-11 “deadline”, they called it dithering.. Too bad if he’d listened to the neo-consuperfratboy’s and made zero commitments (as they tend to do) we could start packing it in next week.
    I predict this story will die before this weeks end, nothing to see here, move along. It is way too serious for our media to really sink its teeth into. Below the fold, back burner any day now. Unless of course FAUX and the rest decide to abandon the war machine funding in favor of one last good policy shot at Obama before the election? Doubtful but it could happen!

  13. Is there anything about the ‘bribe trade’ in the 92,000 documents? That world functions, gets things done, secures alliances through bribes. So who’s ‘financing’ the Taliban. Knowing that is key. We can’t compete unless we can out-bribe our competition.

    It’s not that we would be fledglings in the ‘bribe trade.’ We paid Afghanis tidy sums to turn in fellow Afghanis whom they suspected were terrorists – Guantanamo etc. are full of the unlucky bastards, many of whom were turned in for a whole lot of reasons other than they were terrorists – personal vendettas, creditors, ancient tribal enemies…

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