Author Topic: The Afghanistan Papers  (Read 572 times)

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The Afghanistan Papers
« on: October 19, 2021, 12:56:32 pm »

The Afghanistan Papers
By Brandan P. Buck
October 19, 2021

The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. Craig Whitlock. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2021.

Deception is a necessary component for any wartime belligerent. In The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War, investigative journalist Craig Whitlock explores the range of deceptions integral to America’s two-decade war in Afghanistan. However, his work is not the tale of a triumphant disinformation campaign like Winston Churchill’s famous “bodyguard of lies,” a narrative with which he begins his preface.[1] Rather, Whitlock’s work is an exploration of how a range of deceptions twisted American planning, hamstrung the coalition war effort, concealed rampant corruption, deceived the public, and prolonged the war. His work chronicles a Gordian knot of deceits within the U.S. national security establishment, between it and U.S. politicians, between the U.S. government and its allies, and between the U.S. government and the American people. It is a tragic and frequently gut-wrenching tale of failure, incompetence, absurdity, and hubris informed largely by individuals’ unwillingness or inability to recognize or tell the truth.

Whitlock’s work is built largely on oral histories collected by the U.S. government. The primary corpus are interviews compiled by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an oversight authority charged with investigating waste, fraud, and abuse within the American effort to rebuild Afghanistan. The Washington Post successfully sued the U.S. government to release SIGAR’s findings and obtained over 2,000 pages of interviews with 428 individuals. Whitlock also used a series of interviews from the U.S. Army’s Leadership Experience project, the Miller Center’s George W. Bush oral history project, and a collection of Donald Rumsfeld’s post-it notes memos (referred to by insiders as “snowflakes”) held by the National Security Archive.