From July 2009 to March 2010, I served as one of the U.S. Air Force’s designees for a nation-building mission, and I witnessed the disconnect between what happened on the ground and the messages the public heard about it. As my team’s information operations officer, I played a direct role in crafting those messages. I employed “strategic communication” during events like the 2009 Afghan presidential election and directed embedded reporters to only the sunniest stories, keeping them away from disgruntled troops who might not stick to tidy talking points. But my job wasn’t only to mislead the American public: Our information campaign extended to the Afghan people and to higher-ups within the American military itself.
“The Afghan forces are better than we thought they were,” Marine Gen. John Allen told Congress in 2012. “The Afghan national security forces are winning,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson told reporters in 2014.
But in a trove of confidential government interviews obtained by The Washington Post, U.S., NATO and Afghan officials described their efforts to create an Afghan proxy force as a long-running calamity. With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would remain private, they depicted the Afghan security forces as incompetent, unmotivated, poorly trained, corrupt and riddled with deserters and infiltrators.
We are now in a position to seal a United States-Taliban agreement that would lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and move the conflict into the political realm. We should not miss this opportunity.
The war has exacted an overwhelming cost: 1,892 American military personnel killed in action and 20,589 wounded, about a trillion dollars spent, the psychological and emotional impact on veterans and their families, and similar material and human costs to our allies. And there is the devastating cost paid by the people of Afghanistan: Of the 147,000 killed in the war since 2001, more than 38,000 have been civilians. This long war must end.
Speaking to the top-selling Bild newspaper, Wong said: “It makes me furious that the German Bundeswehr is apparently helping to train Chinese soldiers. Given the riots in Hong Kong, the defence ministry should have ended this programme long ago.”
Hong Kong as a dispute resolution centre and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung’s shocking confession that he did not know why people are so angry are typical of the arrogance, self-entitlement and ignorance of the baby boomer leaders
Stopping violence and restoring order ‘most urgent task’ for the city, China’s defence ministry says
Chinese and US defence ministers discuss Hong Kong at Bangkok Asean meeting while clashes continue between police and radicals
Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were surrounded by riot police on Monday inside a besieged Hong Kong college campus, as almost six months of intensifying anti-government unrest appeared headed for a bitter and perhaps bloody climax.
After nearly six months of escalating protests, Hong Kong is a mess, its reputation for efficiency in tatters, its economy in recession, its roads and rails often blocked. And there is no end in sight.