Wikileaks released the Afghan War Diary this week, a compilation of 91,370 war documents that reveals what the Guardian calls “a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan.”
President Obama today announced that as a result of the leaked documents, he would embark on a new strategy for Afghanistan – while at the same time protesting that Wikileaks didn’t “reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.”
What this new strategy entails is, as of now, uncertain. But Phyllis Bennis, IPS Middle East expert and OtherWords contributor, warns that the leak might lead to more violence against Americans, but critically points out that “The solution is not less information, but to stop U.S. activities leading to higher than acknowledged civilian casualties.” She further writes on Huffington Post:
There is no evidence yet of a new smoking gun among the individual documents. But taken as a whole, the documents provide a collective arsenal of evidence of a brutal war that never did have a chance to “succeed” — and evidence of what a government, through two administrations, were determined to keep secret from its own people and the rest of the world.
General reactions to the documents have been mixed, but it’s clear that they provide an important, revealing account of the cover-ups, corruption, and needless deaths that mark this aimless war. The person (or people) who released these documents should be commended – all too often, as Shanna Devine notes in her latest OtherWords op-ed, whistleblowers are disproportionately punished for shining a light on disturbing truths within an organization.
OtherWords commentaries are free to re-publish in print and online — all it takes is a simple attribution to OtherWords.org. To get a roundup of our work each Wednesday, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.