Sunday, July 25, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Afghanistan War: First Thoughts

I obviously haven't had time to go through the 90,000 Afghan war documents that WikiLeaks dumped on the public today, so I'll have to rely for now on the New York Times' overview:

As the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, tries to reverse the lagging war effort, the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

Let's take that piece-by-piece. The war, the Times says, is hamstrung by...

* The Afghan government. We knew that.

* The Afghan police force. We knew that.

* The Afghan army "of questionable loyalty and competence." We knew that.

* And a Pakistani military that might be an "unspoken ally" of the anti-American insurgent forces. We knew that.

Again, these are initial impressions, but at first glance the "revelations" seem mostly marginal. The mass of documents -- along with the showy way they came to light -- might refocus the public's attention into asking a good question: Why the hell are we still there? The Obama Administration's blustery response -- along with other notable problems in the war effort -- aren't doing much to engender confidence in staying the course.

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