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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Wikileaks: The Afghan War Diary « Previous | |Next »
July 27, 2010

The huge cache of secret US military files about the conflict in Afghanistan obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history.

The Afghan War Diary is a compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details.


The Afghan War Logs reveals how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency. Pakistan is an ally of America.

Western governments involved int he war iun Afghanistan, including Australia, have been less than forthcoming about what is taking place by putting a glossy face on the war, manipulating public opinion and suppressing the truth. Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, said that:

There is no single damning, single person, single mass killing. That's not the real story. The real story is that it's war. It's the continuing small events, the continuing deaths of civilians, children and soldiers...."Military units when self-reporting speak in another language, redefining civil casualties as insurgent casualties ... When US military report on other US military they tend to be more frank. When they report on ally military units, for the example the UK or the Polish, they're even more likely to be frank. But when they report on the Taliban then all evil comes out. Internal reporting is not accurate. The cover-up starts at the ground. The whole task is to make the war more palatable.

Though Wikileaks released the information to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel Wikileaks is about the release of information without regard for national interest. In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it.

But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This counters the way that the National Security State hides itself behind an essentially absolute wall of secrecy to ensure that the citizenry remains largely ignorant of what it is really doing.

Though the war in Afghanistan is not winding down, but ramping up, it is going far worse than political officials have been publicly claiming. The Afghan War Diary shows why the US military campaign in Afghanistan has achieved so little success--too much civilian slaughter doesn't do much for winning the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians. The diary shows how futile the situation in Afghanistan is.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:35 AM | | Comments (15)


In his comments on The Washington Post's Dana Priest series on Top Secret America that details the sprawling, unaccountable, inexorably growing secret national security state Glenn Greenward says:

Most of what the U.S. Government does of any significance -- literally -- occurs behind a vast wall of secrecy, completely unknown to the citizenry. . . . Secrecy is the religion of the political class, and the prime enabler of its corruption. That's why whistle blowers are among the most hated heretics. They're one of the very few classes of people able to shed a small amount of light on what actually takes place.

The National Security state in the US, which expanded after 9/11 is hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. As Greenward points out it functions in total darkness, beyond elections and parties, so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization.

In Australia the national security state emerges in episodes such as this. This is a plan by the Attorney General for ISPs to store certain internet activities of all Australians - regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing - for law-enforcement agencies to access.

Greenberg says that the more secret surveillance powers we vest in the Government, the more we allow the unchecked Surveillance State to grow. He warns:

the more secret surveillance powers we vest in the Government, the more we allow the unchecked Surveillance State to grow... Why would the political class possibly want to subvert or weaken their ability to exercise vast spying, detention, and military powers in the dark? They don't...It's simply impossible to conceive of the political class taking any meaningful steps to rein in a limitlessly powerful and unquantifiably profitable National Security and Surveillance State -- at least in the absence of serious citizen revolts against it.

A sobering warning.

Nothing will change unless there is OVERWHELMING public pressure. For the time being, it is not a politically sensitive issue. The bulk of the electorate isn't really engaged when it comes to the cost of foreign wars.

That's probably THE most brilliant thing about an all-Volunteer army! The average bloke in the suburbs doesn't have to worry about being at the pointy end.

Again and again you get back to that other pointless war, Vietnam.
I still can't, for the life of me, figure out why they are still in Afghanistan.
"What a tangled web we weave,
when first we practice to deceive".

"...I still can't, for the life of me, figure out why they are still in Afghanistan..."

I think there's a whole bunch of reasons (not necessarily good ones) why this war is still rolling along. Different groups have pushing different agendas. And few, if any, put the well-being of the Afghan people as top priority.

I fear that that the Attorney General is planning an eavesdropping program to spy on the communications of Australians without judicial oversight. Presumably it will be claimed that the Government must have greater domestic surveillance powers in order to Keep Us Safe from terrorists.

I fear that this snooping legislation will be a case of allowing the use of terrorist laws in non terror situations. I don't really trust Labor on civil liberties---there is a possibility for a substantial erosion of civil liberties" under Labor, which has strong authoritarian tendencies.

GST's last take was reinforced for me,after watching the SBS report on "Wiki-gate"( yes, someone had to break the ice! ).
All the carp from US officials on "security" tonight only impresses on me the more, through yet another egregious example, the reality of Americans inability ever to just "get it", as to an adopted position or policy, as to the place of "right and wrong" in the process.

I've written comments like this before in various places, but IMHO the US will not leave Afghanistan until it can manufacture a perception of success. We saw the same thing in Iraq - none of the professed objectives of the occupation has been achieved but years of persistent bullshit have generated enough of a belief that the whole thing has been worth doing to allow departure with dignity.

Howard let the cat out of the bag in his Hoover Institute interviews after he got the boot. The key issue is the 'global prestige of the United States'. Under this world view, the USA is an enormous force for virtue and stability and must be sustained as the only global superpower at all costs. A multi-polar world is apparently a self-evident recipe for anarchy and the destruction of 'Western values', and simply cannot be allowed to happen.

"Under this world view, the USA is an enormous force for virtue..."

I suspect that this version of reality does not carry much weight at all, outside the anglosphere...

".. an enormous force for virtue and stability..."
So my impression of it as a giant blood sucking vampire squid was wrong, all along (ia).

Just an observation, the odds must be great, given the number of documents involved, that the source of the leak will be discovered. The thing with secrets is somebody somewhere has be with the inside story.

I don't think anyone... on either side of the debate... should get to excited about this stuff. No deal-breakers here.

It's as much about the medium as the message. The culture of news organisations reporting this story today, is quite different for that of four decades ago. And the citizens who have taken notice (any notice at all) will soon be distracted by more important matters.

It will blow over and everyone can carry on as usual.

Short of actually reviewing the content of the wikileaks, there is not a lot more to be said.
The frustration in Ken's last comment about the Us's refusal to leave Afghanstan for no better reason than the massaging of its own megalomaniac vanity is palpable; just came from a blogsite where a thread starter dealt with the reality that the US "never intended any reconstruction of Iraq in the first place"
( not verbatim, re Willie Bach, facebook).

Simon Jenkins at the Guardian talks in terms of folly ---

that Nato, the Pentagon and Britain's defence ministry could so ignore past history and current intelligence as to invade with main force, seek to pacify the Pashtun and then "build a nation" in a medieval land along western democratic lines – all with such incompetence,...What is most startling is the continuance of a strategy – the bombing of civilian targets in the hope of killing Taliban – that everyone seems to accept is counterproductive. Bombing and strafing crowds, like assassinating leaders and blowing up civic buildings, hopelessly disrupts communities and benefits mafias.

it seems that NATO is oblivious to Afghan history and it has little to do with protecting the US, UK or Australia from terrorism. Jenkins points out that nor is the war:
anything to do with oil, or drugs, or Iran, or Pakistan, because in each case the war is making matters worse.

The trends of war in Afghanistan increasingly means that the NATO coalition forces more and more resemble their Red Army predecessors in 1988 when Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in Moscow was beginning to plan for withdrawal.

After Howard took his early decision to back Bush's storm to war at the start of 2002, all parts of the permanent security/military apparatus in Australia collaborated with rather than defied his recklessness. There was whole range of personal, corporate and departmental interests in blindingly supporting the United States military-security machine whatever it does.

Those who dissented were sidelined. The public was not served through debate because parliament was not given access to the necessary information, and further was not in a position to make a real contribution to the decision making process.

"...whole range of personal, corporate and departmental interests in blindingly supporting the United States military-security machine...."

I remember, during one of our glorious prime miniature's photo ops, one of the outbound sodiers said something like: I'm happy to go over there because that's what I've been trained to do! And I want to see my training put to use!

So, that bloke was eager to go simply because he had been trained for war. He was keen to put his training to use because he... well... he had the training!

How can you argue with that?