An archive of over 91,000 leaked military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010 recently published by WikiLleaks.org exposes the harsh realities of this drawn-out war. The “Afghan War Diary” entries were written by soldiers and intelligence officers and based on reports from Marines intelligence and U.S. Embassies about corruption and development activity across Afghanistan. The accounts expose specific incidents of U.S. war crimes against civilians and corruption of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. They also verify the fact that Taliban and other Afghan militants opposing the U.S. military and Afghan government forces are not going to stop fighting anytime soon because they have a vested interest in ending foreign occupation. WikiLeaks released the reports Sunday, followed the next day by coverage from major publications including The New York Times and The Guardian.
While the “diary” undoubtedly reveals the grim truth of the war in Afghanistan to a wider audience, news reports about the leaked records continue to focus on the tactical errors of the government in fighting the war and the critical view that the war is most likely unwinnable. Reports are hesitant to explore other reasons for opposing the war, including a moral or ethical opposition to all forms of violence and war and the need for justice for those whose lives continue to be impacted daily by the violence of U.S. militarism both within our own borders and around the world.
According to the website, WikiLeaks hopes that its release “will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course.” However, some argue that the public has been aware of the substance of the documents for some time, and the subsequent media storm will probably not have a major effect on debate over U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Still, exposure of the “Afghan War Diary” as a media spectacle may highlight long-standing arguments for ending the war, including the toll on Afghan civilians, not to mention the fact that the United States has been unable to “win over” civilian populations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as a result of continuous drone attacks, raids, checkpoints, prisons, disappearances, and mass killings.
Additionally, before these documents were leaked, WikiLeaks made headlines with a video titled “Collateral Murder,” which depicted a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The Army arrested the person charged with leaking the video, 22-year-old intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning, who now faces up to 52 years in prison and is currently imprisoned in Kuwait, awaiting military trial without access to friends, family, or outside lawyers. (Find out how to support Manning here).
Whether the release and extensive media coverage of the “Collateral Murder” video and the “Afghan War Diary” documents change the course of U.S. foreign policy and military action in Iraq and Afghanistan remains to be seen. Regardless, there is something we can do. The House of Representatives will be voting again TODAY on the White House request for $33.5 billion of new funding for the war in Afghanistan. The War Resisters League is joining with other antiwar organizations in calling on Congressional representatives to vote against the new war-funding bill, and calling on citizens to contact their representatives in Congress to oppose the Afghan war by refusing to vote for war -funding. National Call-In Days are this week July 26–-28. Contact the toll-free Congressional Switchboard at 1-888-493-5443, and share the WikiLeaks information with your friends, family, and neighbors. This important moment requires action!