Afghan security forces do not enjoy any trust or legitimacy in the eyes of Afghan citizens. They are not just incapable, according to specific WikiLeaks reports, they are often brutally cruel and corrupt. Petty bribery…a police chief selling ammunition on the black market…commanders stealing their underlings’ salaries…this is the least of it. In one account, a police commander takes advantage of a teenage girl and then shoots his own bodyguard when the bodyguard refuses to open fire on a civilian complaining about the rape.
Most shocking of all perhaps is the revelation that the government of Pakistan, our purported ally, is actively assisting the very militants we’re fighting in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a country that we lavish with foreign aid, one that U.S. officials repeatedly praise as an important partner in the struggle against terrorism. And it appears they’re using our money to support our enemy. And we’re not just talking about passive enabling of terrorism — there are reports of Pakistani intelligence officials recruiting and training suicide bombers and helping to plan major Taliban offensives.
Perhaps most galling of all is the collective shrug from many in the foreign policy community about the WikiLeaks reports. We’ve known about this stuff all along, they say, this is nothing new.
Well first of all, I’m willing to bet a good percentage of the American people didn’t know that their tax dollars are helping Pakistan fight against our interests. And second of all, I think it’s important to ask everyone who has responsibility for prosecuting this war: If you knew all about these things, what are you doing about them?
As if I needed any more persuasion, the WikiLeaks revelations left me with no other choice than to vote this week against the supplemental appropriations bill to spend billions more on military operations in Afghanistan. How could I in good conscience endorse continued financial support for an unwinnable war, one that does violence to our values and is undermining our national security objectives?
There is only one option: end this war and bring our troops home.