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Friday, October 31, 2014

Document leaks will force decision

Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010, at 8:17 AM

The release by WikiLeak of more than 90,000 pages of documents, many classified, about the war in Afghanistan, will probably have the same affect on the war as the release of the Pentagon papers by Daniel Ellsberg had on the Vietnam War.

A public already soured on the war will probably clamor with even greater furor for an early end to American involvement in the war.

It's easy to shoot the messenger -- the WikiLeak website that largely provides a useful platform for whistleblowers -- but the true culprits are those who decided to release the documents in the first place, and it is they who should be held criminally accountable.

The massive volume of the documents makes it likely that the individual (or individuals) responsible are fairly high up in the information food chain. Because of the internet today, those documents were going to show up somewhere, but at least WikiLeak attempts to vet the information it receives and called on three prestigious and respected newspapers, the New York Times, the Manchester Guardian and Der Speigel, to help it check the veracity of the information.

Most of the high points in the documents aren't exactly new. Previous reports have indicated the Pakistani intelligence service has been aiding and abetting the Taliban, and the corruption of the Karzai government in Afghanistan is well known. But the documents provide a level of detail that shows the extent of those activities is much greater than ever suspected by the general public (but apparently well known by policymakers in this and the previous administration).

There are technical details about past operations in the reports that probably are already known to the Taliban. But those details will shock some people. Anyone who's been in combat won't be surprised, but those who haven't will discover that war is not very pretty. It's like making sausage. You really don't want to know the nitty gritty details.

For example, innocent civilians in war zones get killed. It happens. Whenever bullets and bombs are being tossed around, anybody in the area is likely to become a victim.

These documents will almost certainly give a better handle on how many civilians have died in this war, better than the vague estimates tossed around in the past, but one thing that's important to remember is how few there really are in comparison to past wars.

In WWII, both the Germans and the Allies deliberately targeted civilians. Today, we try to avoid it at all costs. In fact, the United States is the only country in the world that has both the technical capability and the desire to limit civilian deaths.

But limit does not mean zero. And while civilian deaths have dropped significantly since the Obama administration took over, the highly restrictive new rules of engagement that have helped protect civilians have come at the cost of risking the lives of our own troops.

The real problem with the release of these documents is going to be in area of geostrategy and politics, especially as it relates to our relations with many of our allies. This is where some of the disclosures are likely to be most disadvantageous to the United States. We wouldn't be surprised if some allies, who privately may be reluctant right now to be involved in this war, use it as an excuse to back out.

And it almost certainly will fan the flames of those in this country who want to see an immediate end to American involvement, which almost certainly was the intent of those who leaked the documents.

War and geopolitics are not for the faint of heart and the curtain on this war has been pulled aside for all to see. The genie is out of the bottle.

The question now becomes, what do we do with that knowledge and can we place it in its proper context?

At the least, it now forces the American electorate to make some decisions we may have been avoiding, and could have a significant impact on this fall's elections.


Comments
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It's too badthis information wasn't released sooner. The american people deserve to know what is going on with it's tax money, sons and daughters. I'm appauled by the attempt at trying to justify this war by saying "important to remember is how few there really are in comparison to past wars". This country should not be responsible for any deaths whether here or half way across the world. This "war" needs to end. If these "documents" helps that happen I say Kinkos needs to start making copies to send to every person in America so they see what is really going on in this crusade that Bush started instead of being blinded by the glossy coat the gov't and press put on this horrid situation.

-- Posted by Tardyjay on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 11:52 AM

sorry, let me correct myself. Bush may not have started this war but he sure pushed hard to get it to the point it is now. Imo, that man is no better than other warlord looking for blood to satisfy their money issues.

-- Posted by Tardyjay on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 11:54 AM

Oh, and bazookaman, keeping the press out and leaving all military decisions might work in some situations but if you just look in the past where military has had total control over what it does....let's jsut say it doesnt end well and is not good for anyone. Not just us.

-- Posted by Tardyjay on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 11:57 AM

Man, Bazooka, I feel sorry for you sometimes. Your perception of reality is constantly off center. Giving free reign to military commanders would be more akin to Hitler and his germany. Our military, even during WWII answered to Washington, no matter what you think. As for your Nam, that was lost simply because the otherside was more committed to the battle then America was. Further, further, further,....the leaked papers aren't going to do chit. Their memory will soon fade out and the populous will forget the impact that they should have had. These stinky papers will mean nothing, because the American people are too focused on political/cultural divisions to care about some war that they can't see or feel.

The "milk and honey" always goes to the "Rich" not to the "We". And Trickle Down really means Trickle up,...against the laws of nature.

Smoke some of that random weirdness Bazooka.

-- Posted by censored on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 6:08 AM

Censored, what are you smoking thats got you so high. To state North Vietnam was more committed to battle than America during the Vietnam was is something that would come out of the month of a nut case, a person that knows nothing about war as it appears you know nothing about Vietnam. The military did everything they were allowed to do then which wasn't much due to the Micro-Managed idiots in DC that thought they knew better. Like don't bomb where it may hurt the Norths military or supplies. Alot of bombs where dropped out in the middle of no where cause the pilots weren't allowed to drop them on the emeny. One thing for sure censored telling the people that were part of the Vietnam war wasn't a smart move on your part, still to many Vets that served over there still around. Just for the record I was part of it from 1967 to 1968.

-- Posted by Eagle_eye on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 11:03 AM

WE LOST NOTHING......THE POLOTICS OF VIETNAM WAS WELL DOCUMENTED......FIELD COMMANDERS SHOULD BE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO PROSECUTE A CONFLICT AS THEY SEE FIT WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE POLITICAL AGENDA.....THERE IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN WW2 AND THE NAM......2 DIFFERENT WARS WITH 2 DIFFERENT POLITICAL AGENDAS.......the papers as released solve nothing....they are operational....they at best should be looked at from analytical view....we should have let this conflict go a long time ago......im not going to get into dem vs rep.....the polotics of this war is wrong and has been from the start.......we equate prudence with defeat and that is just plain stupid

-- Posted by lamont on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 2:29 PM

November will be here soon,, bye bye Liberal Progressive Socialists,

-- Posted by Freedom on Sat, Jul 31, 2010, at 6:44 AM

but who is counting:) Have a safe trip Mike. Take care of yourself. See you on the return bud.

-- Posted by OpinionMissy on Sat, Jul 31, 2010, at 9:09 AM

i think that someone forgot why there is a military.....we are the fist of the politics to put it simply......b52 to solve everthing,i really have a problem with that we are again at the point of a weapon.....i will say it again do you know what happens to the bully on the block??..thats not what we should be.......i dont like how this crape is being prosecuted either,and i have said so but for god sake be constructive....and your remark on miss kagan was un called for.....there have been many supreme court justices without judical experience.....and they have been among the best.....so says repubs and dems.....sometimes you really go off half cocked....while your out there try listening to everyone not just people who voice what you want to hear.....i know that will be hard but try......and dont prejudge the people of the east......we are not what you make us out to be......but you are a very judgemental guy arnt you???????? drive safe

-- Posted by lamont on Mon, Aug 2, 2010, at 8:32 AM

the russians have been attacked by terrorist also........only they keep it to themselfs and go after the perpetrators....werever they are....we should do the same..... A bombs were used because there was a NATIONAL WILL to resist not because the generals wanted to continue......there is a difference....there is no national will to take us on.....you dont kill hundreds of thousands to stop a couple of hundred......you go after them with a no holds bared attitude.....and sometimes we dont seem to get that......and thats what our special operators are for......we train em lets use em......

-- Posted by lamont on Mon, Aug 23, 2010, at 8:06 AM


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