Last Sunday, the website WikiLeaks published some 92,000 classified documents concerning the Afghan war, covering the period from 2004 to 2009. The military is investigating U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in connection with the leak. Manning served with the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade in Baghdad, working on intelligence operations.
The documents were quickly picked up by nearly every military, government and news organization around the world. They cover an extraordinary range of topics, from small unit operational and tactical reports to broad, strategic analysis of political and military relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. While the leak drew justifiable condemnation, at this point it doesn’t appear that there are any major revelations — other than names and hometowns of some Afghan informants.
The documents confirm the general consensus about the Afghan war, especially the suspected links between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban. Pakistani spy services meet directly with the Taliban in order to organize the fight against American forces and to develop assassination plots against Afghan leaders. The reports also indicate that American soldiers know about a Pakistani-run network that assists the insurgents and that runs from the Afghan border to southern Afghanistan and on into Kabul. While U.S. officials won’t verify these details, they confirm that the alleged Pakistani collaboration is consistent with other classified sources. Combined with firsthand accounts of American soldiers’ anger at Pakistan’s unwillingness to fight insurgents attacking Pakistani border posts, the documents contrast sharply with U.S. pronouncements that Pakistan is a loyal ally in the Afghan war. Then again, they do comport with then-candidate Obama’s pledge to bomb Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the documents also suggest that the current U.S. strategy won’t win the war because an insufficient U.S. ground force is fighting a determined enemy on his home turf with time on his side. If Pakistan believes this to be the case, then when (not if) the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban will be back in control. Therefore, it makes sense for Pakistanis to lend support surreptitiously to the Taliban, who will be living on their border and who would seek retribution against an unfriendly neighbor. This also means that long-term U.S. goals in Afghanistan (not to mention the lives of our soldiers) are in greater jeopardy given the current strategy.
Perhaps most disturbing, the documents reveal much about our military’s tactics, methods, sources and communication. Such details will be all too useful to our enemies. “If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al Qaeda, I would have called this priceless,” said former CIA director Michael Hayden. “If I’m head of the Russian intelligence, I’m getting my best English speakers and saying: ‘Read every document, and I want you to tell me, how good are these guys? What are their approaches, their strengths, their weaknesses and their blind spots?'”
The Obama regime has some serious soul searching to do regarding the Afghan war effort. If the U.S. is unsuccessful there, our jihadist foes will no doubt redouble their efforts against us.