Acton Institute Powerblog

In Afghanistan, our war with truth concludes

(Image credit: Associated Press)

The situation in Afghanistan is difficult and there are no easy and ready-made solutions. In the face of despair and tragedy, truth is our only way forward. […]

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The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated even further over the weekend, as the Taliban, driven from power twenty years ago, overtook the capital city of Kabul.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has now fled to Uzbekistan, claiming he wishes to avoid more bloodshed. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged that “the Taliban are in control of the country,” and that a British and NATO return to Afghanistan is “not in the cards.”

On Sunday, the Pentagon authorized another 1,000 troops to help evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans. This is in addition to the 6,000 soldiers who are already there to deal with the increasingly chaotic evacuation at the airport in Kabul, where five were killed on Monday.

America’s longest war is coming to an ignominious end.

A little more than a month ago, President Biden sought to reassure Americans about the situation in Afghanistan, stating, “I trust the capacity of the Afghan military.” In a recent press conference, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed this sentiment. “The Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their county,” he said.

This is starkly different from President Biden’s recent assessment. “One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country,” Biden said. “And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”

Such incongruity also signals the end of our war with the truth. Throughout the conflict, our nation’s political and military elites have waged a propaganda war against the American public, which has been extensively documented in the Washington Post’s landmark investigation, “The Afghanistan Papers.” The documents uncovered in this investigation revealed that high ranking officials believed the war was unwinnable, and estimates that 40%  of U.S. aid to Afghanistan wound up in the hands of corrupt officials, warlords, criminals, and insurgents. That sustained effort to mislead the public is finally over.

For that, we should be thankful to the God who reveals. “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known come to light” (Luke 8:17). For those who perpetrated such deception, we should pray and hope that justice will be rendered, knowing that “a false witness will not go unpunished, for he who breathes out lies will perish” (Proverbs 19:9).

One explanation for the shameful failures of this past week is that those in authority began to believe some of their own lies. The other explanation is almost unthinkable – a gross negligence or indifference to the horrible human cost to American citizens, soldiers, and allies of this chaotic withdrawal.

The situation in Afghanistan is difficult and there are no easy and ready-made solutions, but we can be confident that “a truthful witness saves lives.” (Proverbs 14:25). In the face of despair and tragedy, truth is our only way forward.

Representative Peter Meijer offered us some sage council on Twitter today:

There is a desperate need now to help those whose lives are or will be under threat in Afghanistan to get out as soon as possible. We are all, in our own small ways, able to help in this effort. Even if difficult times, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angles unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2).

Dan Hugger

Dan Hugger is Librarian and Research Associate at the Acton Institute.