New York Times with headline about Pentagon Papers

It’s not the New York Times this time. Although it is another pile of Pentagon papers. Now it’s the Washington Post in an eerie déjà vu moment telling us we were lied to about a war by three presidential administrations: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Last time it was four – Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

After more than 18 years the Taliban’s in control – or contesting U.S. forces for control – of Afghanistan.  The longest running war in U.S. history has cost $1.5 trillion, but that’s only a part of the price tag. Just like President Johnson refused to raise taxes for the Vietnam War, the U.S. will pay $600 billion in interest on borrowed war dollars by 2023.

But the longest long-term cost of the war is the $1.4 trillion that will be spent on Afghanistan war vets by the year 2025.

Of course, the U.S. military budget doesn’t include veteran’s benefits as a category. Rather veteran’s support is shifted to Health and Human Services to minimize the actual cost of the U.S. war machine.  

As in Vietnam, the U.S. has attempted the Afghanization of the country. We’ve spent $87 billion to train a Afghan military and police force. But because there’s no real national Afghan government there is no functioning Afghan security forces. We used to call this Vietnamization. It failed as well.

The only success resulting from U.S. efforts was turning Afghanistan from a country with no opium growth prior to our invasion to the world’s largest drug hot spot. An estimated 80 percent of all global opium/heroin supply to Europe and the U.S. flows from the Afghani golden crescent.

What we weren’t told at the beginning of the war is that when we made the Karzai, the Chevron oil guy, the president of the country, we also gave him a coalition government of regional warlords. What the U.S. media failed to do was insert one word in front of warlord that would have made it accurate. That word would have been opium.

So just like the CIA and Air America trafficked opium out of Laos during the Vietnam War caused a massive drug problem, we’ve repeated history again in Afghanistan despite spending $10 billion on counter-narcotics programs.  

It was pointed out in the essential documentary Re-thinking Afghanistan that the U.S. could have put the entire country to work for $4 billion and eradicated poverty. Instead we spent $24 billion on economic development in Afghanistan that left the vast majority of the country still desperate.

Another $30 billion was lost on reconstruction programs that failed due to waste and corruption, but often made U.S. contractors rich.

This time, rather than being leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, the new Pentagon Papers were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. But we can’t count this as progress in transparency since they’ve been covering the Afghanistan debacle up for 18 years.

Sadly all of this was eminently predictable. The continuation of bright and shiny lies about how we’re winning in Afghanistan and created democracy. Every election in Afghanistan was stolen for the U.S.-backed government. So when we look at the new Pentagon Papers exposing the hideous lies and propaganda, we simply see the old Pentagon Papers and the same corrupt and decrepit U.S. empire fooling no one but going through the same motions over and over again.