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The 18-Year-Long Afghanistan Lie Finally Admitted

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The 18-Year-Long Afghanistan Lie Finally Admitted

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On December 9th, the Washington Post published an article based on a “trove of US government documents” that prove that US officials, for 18 years, “failed to tell the truth” of the unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

“The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.”

The Washington Post won a three-year legal battle under the Freedom of Information Act to be able to reveal the identities of those who criticized the war in Afghanistan.

More than 400 insiders “offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.”

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”

Since 2001, 775,000 US troops had been deployed to the US, many repeatedly, out of them 2,301 have died and 20,589 were wounded, according to official Pentagon numbers.

The 18-Year-Long Afghanistan Lie Finally Admitted

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Most of the insiders were speaking with the notion that what they were saying would never be public, thus they outlined how the strategy was flawed, and how enormous sums of money were wasted into “trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.”

Since 2001, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University.

Sums spent by CIA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies aren’t included.

“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers. He added, “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”


Many of those interviewed described explicit and continuous efforts by the US government to misrepresent what was going on in Afghanistan with the sole aim of misleading the public.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

Furthermore, it appeared that the “reconstruction attempt” was not tailored to the situation of Afghanistan, there wasn’t even an attempt to do so.

“We found the stabilization strategy and the programs used to achieve it were not properly tailored to the Afghan context, and successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians,” read the introduction to one Lessons Learned Report released in May 2018 by SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction).

A former US Diplomat, James Dobbins said the following:

“We don’t invade poor countries to make them rich. We don’t invade authoritarian countries to make them democratic. We invade violent countries to make them peaceful and we clearly failed in Afghanistan.”

SIGAR eventually disclosed more than 2,000 pages of unpublished notes and transcripts from 428 of the interviews, as well as several audio recordings.

In addition, these reports discovered massive corruption.

One unnamed executive with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), guessed that 90 percent of what they spent was overkill: “We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.”

One unidentified contractor told government interviewers he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a U.S. county. He once asked a visiting congressman whether the lawmaker could responsibly spend that kind of money back home: “He said hell no. ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’

Christopher Kolenda, an Army colonel who deployed to Afghanistan several times and advised three U.S. generals in charge of the war, said that the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai had “self-organized into a kleptocracy” by 2006 — and that U.S. officials failed to recognize the lethal threat it posed to their strategy.

“I like to use a cancer analogy,” Kolenda told government interviewers. “Petty corruption is like skin cancer; there are ways to deal with it and you’ll probably be just fine. Corruption within the ministries, higher level, is like colon cancer; it’s worse, but if you catch it in time, you’re probably ok. Kleptocracy, however, is like brain cancer; it’s fatal.”

Good news was repeatedly manufactured, or blown out of proportion, while bad news on the lack of progress, and the general notion that the war was actually a losing one were just buried.

Bob Crowley, the retired Army colonel who served as a counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers that “truth was rarely welcome” at military headquarters in Kabul.

“Bad news was often stifled,” he said. “There was more freedom to share bad news if it was small — we’re running over kids with our MRAPs [armored vehicles] — because those things could be changed with policy directives. But when we tried to air larger strategic concerns about the willingness, capacity or corruption of the Afghan government, it was clear it wasn’t welcome.”

When casualty counts or other markers were looking bad, the White House and Pentagon would spin them to make them look good, despite all indications.

“It was their explanations,” a senior NSC official said. “For example, attacks are getting worse? ‘That’s because there are more targets for them to fire at, so more attacks are a false indicator of instability.’ Then, three months later, attacks are still getting worse? ‘It’s because the Taliban are getting desperate, so it’s actually an indicator that we’re winning.’”

“And this went on and on for two reasons,” the senior NSC official said, “to make everyone involved look good, and to make it look like the troops and resources were having the kind of effect where removing them would cause the country to deteriorate.”

For 18 years, regardless of what was going on and how chaotic and hopeless it seemed, the officials claimed that progress was being made. They just misrepresented which side was making progress.


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Seems like all superpowers need to get to mud face down. Soviets did, got out collapsed, US is still there without knowing what to do, and seemingly China is interested as well.
Thousands of years and still no lesson learned, leave them be.

Jimmy Jim

US losers telling lies, tell me it ain’t so!

alejandro casalegno

Only Alexander the Great and the Islam conquered Afghanistan…………….only them.

Ashok Varma

Actually, the Macedonians never made it past the Hindukush (Hindu killer) range and Alexander died after falling sick which the Afghans converted to Islam by free will as paganism was not working out. However, Afghans invaded India on numerous occasions.


Afghani paganism was working out beautifully (namely mostly Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and other cults). A rich and culturally developped country. And yes, Afghanistan was conquered by Muslims and it took 200 years and many wars to make it Islamic. What pray, did improve with the advent of Islam? Politically, culturally, spiritually? What exactly doesn’t work out elsewhere?

alejandro casalegno

I see the victory in Afghanistan, clear, like a light at the end of a tunnel…………………wait a minute!!!!

King Cliff

Ugly war but the USA government didn’t loose since they serve cooperate elites, they spent a trillions but ask yourself how much the private companies and firms made of this war,how much the war lobbyist made for they bosses? The only one that suffer are the civilians in that nation.

Wayne Nicholson

“The only one that suffer are the civilians in that nation.”

So the US government uses middle and working class taxpayer dollars to fund a war for profit for corporate elites and it’s only the Afghans that suffer? How many of the children of corporate elites died or were maimed fighting in Afghanistan? If they knew they were fighting for corporate profits paid for with their taxes do you think they still would have made that sacrifice …. you told them a lie and many have died believing that lie.

So on top of that your president just gave those same corporate elites a big fat tax break putting a further burden on working and middle class families and their children and grandchildren who are the ones who ultimately have to pay for these wars.

The Fed’s printing press have been working overtime printing money for these same elites, who are using this cheap money to buy back their own stock driving up the stock price as well as their bonuses without adding anything of value to their companies. Trump going even further by using trade war tweets to drive up stock prices for his buddies …… just watch, he’s also going to tell them when to short the market leaving a completely obliterated economy for poor US taxpaying suckers.

The US motto really should be “there’s a sucker born every minute”

Mehmet Aslanak

But it did end the year 2000 recession, right? That was the main purpose.
Creating a fake war against a poor nation is the best medicine against recession.


that and that bush jr made a tax refund in form of checks to all taxpayers to be squandered in the blink of an eye. and that tax refund worked wonders.


There was more freedom to share bad news if it was small — we’re running
over kids with our MRAPs [armored vehicles] — because those things
could be changed with policy directives.

They could be changed, but we are still running over kids with our MRAPs.


Losses ratio:
Taliban vs NATO 6:1
Taliban vs NATO + NATO proxi – Afghanistan government forces 1:1,7

Taliban is doing rather well in situation where enemy has complete air, informational, tactical, financial, economical and technological superiority




Much of these ‘revelations’ play to the old and debunked tune of “we fight for good”. The US has never invaded a country to make it peaceful. That’s like fudging for virginity. Even Nazi Germany wasn’t invaded to bring peace, that could have been obtained much earlier, but to utterly beat Germany down, so as to build it up again against the Soviet Union. Most other countries fare far worse. King Cliff is right, this isn’t a loss for the corporate elites and deep state since opium is produced at record levels, and the country with the greatest reserves of rare earths under some sort of control. Also, it’s a strategically vital position near to India and China. No, for the ruling elites, this is all ‘worth it’… plus you make shitloads of money selling weapons etc. To say “we hadn’t the foggiest idea…” is absurd. You just need a wee bit of history from the British to understand what Afghanistan is like. The Russians were defeated there… so come on, you knew exactly what it would be like… add to that a bit of US hybris (the others couldn’t do it, we can) and voilà… the rest is history and present.


The only possible reason that I can see for the invasion of Afghanistan is the protection of the heroin trade. Mullah Omar issued a fatwa against opium production in 2000 and opium production dropped to nothing. In 2001 the coalition showed up and opium production has been off the hook ever since. Ask the junkies in downtown Oslo – they’ve never had so much shit as since the coalition invaded Afghanistan


Its Vietnam 2.0, the US will look for a ‘negotiated peace’, ie use a brief lull in hostilities to pull out. Then the Taliban will resume taking territory until Kabul falls. It was always ridiculous level of hubris for US politicians and military to claim they could completely re-engineer a distant and foreign society into whatever they wanted, or achieve that sort of transformation in matter of few years.

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