Small Wars Journal

Telling the Truth About the War in Afghanistan

Telling the Truth About the War in Afghanistan by Anthony H. Cordesman – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Anyone who has lived through the lies the U.S. government told about the war in Vietnam, or its failure to honestly report the uncertainties regarding Iraq’s continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that led to the U.S. invasion in 2003, knows how dangerous it is for the U.S. government to paint a false impression of success in a war or crisis, and to lie directly or by omission.

Anyone who has served in the U.S. government also knows how tempting it is for officials, commanders, and public affairs offers to “spin” the course of a war in favorable terms, to pressure the intelligence community for favorable results or silence, and to shape internal planning and analysis around comforting assumptions and illusions.

As Clausewitz touched upon in his classic writing – On War – the fog of war is partly inevitable, but it also can easily can become a self-inflicted wound. Creating a fantasy world is the worst possible way to shape a strategy, commit resources, and try to sustain a conflict…

Read the entire report.


From our article above:

"The US needs to openly assess the full range of factors that actually shape a major counterinsurgency in a failed state, and not just cherry pick favorable or politically desirable areas of reporting."

Re: this discussion by Mr. Cordesman, has anyone noticed that -- much like R2P and Jus Post Bellum -- this fixation with "failed states" (and such things as Cordesman's major counterinsurgency occurring in same) -- that this such fixation does not seem to occur until (a) after we have won the Old Cold War and, in 1993, (b) formally adopted "advancing market-democracy" as our new strategic imperative? 

"In the fifteen years since the end of the Cold War, the international community - and the community of international lawyers - has become increasingly preoccupied with the phenomenon usually dubbed "state failure."

(See the Introduction, page 1160, to "Failed States, or the State as Failure?" by Rosa Ehrenreich Brooke, The University of Chicago Law Review, Volume72, Fall 2005, Number 4.)

Thus, should we wish to "Tell the Truth About the War in Afghanistan" (etc.), should we not do so by beginning any such discussion with an acknowledgement of the obvious relationship/the obvious nexus between:

a.  Such things as R2P, Jus Post Bellum and "a major counterinsurgency in a failed state." And:

b.  The political objective/the strategic imperative of the United States -- post-the Old Cold War -- of advancing market-democracy?