The American public has been lied to about the war in Afghanistan, according to a startling report the Washington Post published this morning.
- The big picture: Three U.S. administrations have told the public the U.S. was making steady progress in Afghanistan despite knowing the war effort was failing, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
Why it matters: The American public has considered the war a failure since at least 2014, according to a Pew report.
- The country is also divided over whether it was a good idea to use military force at all: 45% in 2018 said it was — down from 69% in 2005.
Between the lines: Generals, diplomats and other top officials assumed their interviews would never go public.
- The Post gained access to more than 2,000 pages of documents after a three-year legal battle.
- The interviews generally described a war effort without a functional strategy, along with a corresponding PR effort to obscure the dysfunction and hide setbacks.
- “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing," said — Douglas Lute, a retired general and former Afghan war czar for Bush and Obama.
The bottom line: 775,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Afghanistan over 18 years of war.
- 2,300 troops died and 20,589 were wounded.
- 38,000 Afghan civilians are estimated to have been killed.