The aim of releasing thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war on the WikiLeaks Web site was apparently to undermine American public support for the war. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, said he wanted the world to see the “true nature of the war” and equated the WikiLeaks Afghanistan archive with the release of the secret files of the East German police following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But an initial look at a handful of the thousands of released reports reveals no shocking information but rather a mix of both operational battlefield information and unverified spot reporting, the credibility of which is impossible for the average U.S. citizen to determine.
Commentators are essentially using the so-called “Afghanistan War Diaries” to re-emphasize their own positions on the war. The reports provide details and context on the day-to-day conduct of the war, but they are only pieces of information that do not lend themselves to sweeping generalizations about the efficacy of the overall war effort.
While a major Afghanistan war funding bill still managed to pass Congress earlier this week, the anti-war drum beat is unmistakable. Even some conservatives are succumbing to the defeatist attitude that it is impossible to succeed in Afghanistan. This is highly unfortunate. Stabilizing Afghanistan and ensuring it does not again become a global terrorist hub is the surest way to guard against another type of 9/11 terrorist strike on the U.S. homeland.
General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces, just released a new set of counterinsurgency guidelines for coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan that call on the troops to “fight hard” but “be a good guest.” He is following through with the sound counterinsurgency strategy first laid out by General Stanley McChrystal last year.
It would be a mistake to give up on the war effort now, just as thousands of additional forces and civilian resources are pouring into the country and before the talented General Petraeus—who is largely responsible for turning the Iraq war around three years ago—is given a chance to succeed. Rather than taking the anti-war bait, Americans should support our dedicated troops in the field, focus on protecting vital U.S. national security interests, and avoid getting caught up in the current Wikisteria.