Washington Post articles (December 2019) about the Afghanistan War turned out to be on the mark

The previous title for this post was: “The short answer is no. The Washington Post did a disservice with this report. Dec. 13, 2019 Lawfare article (the topic: War in Afghanistan).”


A Sept. 3, 2021 Foreign Affairs article by Sarah Chayes [I don’t have a link; I read the print version of the article] is entitled: “Afghanistan’s Corruption Was Made in America: How Self-Dealing Elites Failed in Both Countries.”

Chayes, who provides an evidence-based conceptual framework for the analysis of corruption, is the author (among other studies) of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (2015).

A Sept. 8, 2021 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Former Afghanistan correspondent reflects on what he once believed was a ‘noble war’: Graeme Smith says he ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ when he first arrived in Kandahar to cover the war.”

An excerpt (I’ve omitted the embedded links which you can access in the original article) reads:

Smith has spent much of his career in Afghanistan, from working as a foreign correspondent for the Globe and Mail to serving as a political affairs officer for the United Nations. His new TVO documentary is called Ghosts of Afghanistan. A radio adaptation of the documentary will air on CBC’s Ideas.

Graeme Smith spoke with The Current’s Matt Galloway about what he thinks the future might hold for his friends now living under the Taliban. Here is part of their conversation.

Smith is also author of The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan (2013).

A related study of interest, by Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, is entitled: Manufacturing Militarism: U.S. Government Propaganda in the War on Terror (2021).

[End of updates]

The previous post was dated December 13, 2019; at that post I said it’s a challenge to accurately portray a war by summing it up very briefly.

The original post continues as follows:

A little more in-depth and nuanced analysis is helpful.

The purpose of the current post is to share some sources that are worth considering, in the event a person seeks a better understanding of the war in Afghanistan.

A Dec. 13, 2019 Lawfare article is entitled: “What the Washington Post Gets Wrong About the United States and Afghanistan.”

An excerpt reads:

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Order from Chaos.

It is a serious charge to accuse U.S. officials of deceit and duplicity in their dealings with the American people. That is arguably what happened in Vietnam, to a large extent – helping explain why the 1960s were among the worst decades in American history in terms of domestic cohesion and trust. Now, the Washington Post has accused U.S. officials of both parties and several recent administrations of a similar pattern of untruthfulness in regard to the American-led mission in Afghanistan since 2001. Does this charge hold up?

The short answer is no. The Washington Post did a disservice with this report. At a time when trust in American institutions is already weak, and U.S. officials accuse each other of lying all the time, the country does not benefit from yet more of its trusted voices being wrongly demeaned and diminished.

[By way of an update, Oct. 3, 2021: It turns out that it was the Lawfare article that was off the mark.]

CBC article and CBC The Current broadcast about Washington Post report

A Dec. 11, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “U.S. documents describe an Afghan war on the cheap that cost Canada dearly: Everyone tried to fight the war on a shoestring. Soldiers – and Afghans – paid the price.”

A Dec. 11, 2019 CBC The Current article (which includes a link to the full transcript of the broadcast to which the article refers) is entitled: “Afghans will not be surprised by documents alleging U.S. failures in war, says activist: Orzala Nemat has lived under both Taliban rule and the U.S.-led war.”

Previous posts about Afghanistan

A Jan. 13, 2014 post is entitled:

“Was It Worth It?” Canadian Intervention in Afghanistan and Perceptions of Success and Failure – Canadian Military Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1

Previous posts about Vietnam War

Among previous posts about the Vietnam War is one entitled:

Click here for previous posts about the Vietnam War >

Jonathan Shay speaks of moral injury in Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character (1994)

1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    A Nov. 17, 2023 CBC Front Burner transcript is entitled: “A buried history of Canada’s Afghan war.” Click here to access the Nov. 13, 2023 CBC Front Burner broadcast on which the transcript is based.

    An excerpt from the transcript reads:

    In 2007, in the middle of the war, the Canadian military commissioned a historian to write Canada’s official account of it. One of the things that stands out about that official history is that it was documented as the war was being fought in real time. The result is a three-volume book called The Canadian Army in Afghanistan, which was expected to be published in 2014. The other thing that stands out is that for nearly a decade, this book hasn’t seen the light of day. According to its author, there were concerns from within the military about what he had written. Not that it wasn’t accurate, but that it contained uncomfortable truths. The book was quietly released last summer, but a limited run that makes it more or less inaccessible for anyone who actually wants to read it. Today, CBC Defence and security reporter, Murray Brewster, on the long delay, what’s actually in the book and why historical accounts of war can be so divisive.


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