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아프간 전쟁이 주는 교훈: 아무도 깨닫지 못했다[NYT 사설]
[ 2019-12-11 11:09:46 ]
조회수: 431        
아프간 전쟁이 주는 교훈은 수없이 많다..
부패가 좀먹는 효과, 전략과 책임의 부재, 군 지도자들의 유혹적인 자신감(미국이 잘하고 있다는)에 대한 신뢰..
Lots of Lessons From Afghanistan; None Learned

Documents reveal that American leaders, civilian and military, misled the public about the prospects of success there.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.
Dec. 10, 2019, 6:13 p.m. ET

What emerges from a tranche of documents, obtained by The Washington Post, outlining the abject failure of the war in Afghanistan and the decades of lies told about it, is the inescapable notion that the American government refuses to be honest with itself.

For years, military and civilian leaders said that the mission to rebuild Afghanistan was not only possible, but succeeding. Yet in private, the men and women who ran the war acknowledged to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction what has long been clear to all but the most blinkered observers.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, an Army general who served in the Obama and Bush administrations, said during a 2015 interview with the inspector general.

The dim prospects of achieving anything that could be called victory were evident almost immediately after the Taliban was toppled from power in 2002. “We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave,” Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, wrote in a memo in the spring of 2002, which was cited in The Post report. Mr. Rumsfeld ended with a plea: “Help!”

More than a year later, Mr. Rumsfeld, the man in charge of the most well-resourced military on the planet, was blunt: “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” he wrote.

After more than $1 trillion spent and 18 years of fighting the government in Kabul is still not stable enough to function without the backing of American troops. There is little evidence to suggest that it ever will be.

“The time frame for creating a strong central government is 100 years, which we didn’t have,” an unidentified former State Department official told investigators in 2015. But to admit that the goal is unattainable is to admit failure.

So the mythmaking continues, institutional inertia persists and the Pentagon keeps issuing deployment orders to maintain a 13,000-person presence in the country. “Victory on the battlefield will always belong to you, the American warrior,” President Trump assured a uniformed crowd at Bagram Air Field last month.

An unidentified former member of the National Security Council staff was more explicit about the real marching orders: “Your job was not to win, it was to not lose,” the staffer told an interviewer in 2014, according to the documents.

It has been a long and bloody stalemate. Since the war began, more than 2,400 Americans have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded. More than 38,000 Afghan civilians have died, with countless more injured. The Taliban now controls much of the country, which is awash with refugees, and opium production has quadrupled.

Mr. Trump’s administration has been in talks with the Taliban to bring the conflict to an end but has little to show for it. In September, the Air Force dropped more bombs and other munitions in Afghanistan than in any other month in nearly a decade. Civilian casualties are appallingly high.

America’s failure in Afghanistan may come as a surprise to some Americans. But the Americans who should not be at all surprised are the members of Congress who voted to launch the war, repeatedly voted to continue funding it and have been absent without leave in their duty to oversee its progress.

“This is truly shocking. Years and years of half truths and outright falsehoods,” said Josh Hawley, a senator from Missouri, in a tweet about the documents. Mr. Hawley is a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“It is deeply troubling to read a report of interviews with U.S. government officials that appear to contradict the many assurances we have heard at committee hearings that the continuing war in Afghanistan has a coherent strategy and an end in sight,” Kirsten Gillibrand, a senator from New York, wrote in a letter to the head of the Armed Services Committee, of which she is a member.

It is both truly shocking and deeply troubling that members of Congress, who oversee the military and are privy to classified assessments like those published by The Post, were surprised by the revelations in the documents, which took three years and two federal lawsuits to pry loose for public consumption.

The inspector general conducted the interviews between 2014 and 2018 with military and civilian officials who oversaw the war as part of a series of reports called “Lessons Learned.” There have been plenty of lessons to draw from the war in Afghanistan: the corrosive effects of corruption, the lack of strategy and accountability, civilian deference to assurances from military leaders and seductive idea that the United States — and not the Afghans — was in control of what was happening in the country. But there’s little evidence that the American government has learned them.

And as long as the military and civilian leadership overseeing the war in Afghanistan keep insisting that their strategies are working, there’s little hope they ever will.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Continue reading the main story
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