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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Afghanistan

The peace deal Donald Trump struck with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan is already falling apart, with the top U.S. commander saying that the Taliban is already violating the agreement by resuming attacks on Afghan forces.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday that if the Taliban continues with the level of violence, he will recommend that the military not withdraw troops from Afghanistan, as laid out in a deal Trump announced on Feb. 29.

“To date, Taliban attacks are higher than we believe are consistent with an idea to actually carry out this plan,” McKenzie said, according to the Associated Press. “If they’re unable to draw down the current level of attacks, then the political leadership will be able to make decisions based on that.”

The deal the Trump administration struck with the Taliban would require the group to renounce al-Qaida and prevent terrorist attacks in the country. In exchange, the United States would begin drawing back troops from the country, with a full draw down to occur in 14 months.

Trump personally took credit for the deal, saying, “We think we’ll be successful in the end.”

However, it apparently took less than two weeks for the Taliban to drop its end of the deal, carrying out at least 76 attacks since the deal was announced, the New York Times reported.

One Democratic senator who was briefed on the situation said he thinks Trump got played by the group.

“I got a classified briefing today on the agreement with the Taliban. I have been a supporter of negotiations with the Taliban, but the more I learn, the more concerned I become that Trump got fleeced,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted late Monday night.

According to Murphy, “The Taliban’s security guarantees are so vague as to be effectively void. It’s not clear how we will track whether they are indeed renouncing terrorist groups.”

McKenzie was asked about this specific concern on Tuesday. He agreed that it was challenging to determine whether the Taliban was, in fact, renouncing al-Qaida.

“That’s something they [the Taliban] are going to have to demonstrate that has not yet been demonstrated,” he said, according to the AP.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Just last month, The Washington Post published investigative reporter Craig Whitlock’s bombshell report exposing dark truths about the war in Afghanistan. The six-part series offered a blistering look at the disparities between what the U.S government knew to be true and what it told the public. This evidence — along with the long history of the government lying to justify armed conflict — should give journalists pause when considering how they cover escalating tensions with Iran.

“U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” Whitlock wrote in the project’s opening, based on government documents with interviews of “more than 400 insiders.”

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction … 2,400 lives lost. Who will say this was in vain?” Ret. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House war czar for Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013, is quoted as saying in one of the documents Whitlock obtained. 

“Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public, Whitlock wrote. “They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”

As Media Matters reported at the time, network nightly news broadcasts largely ignored Whitlock’s report. Neither ABC’s World News Tonight nor NBC’s Nightly News covered the story in the days after it broke, while CBS Evening News devoted a single segment to it on December 9. Now, less than a month removed from the publication of concrete evidence that the U.S. government has been lying to the American people about an ongoing $2 trillion war that’s taken the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 U.S. service members, we appear to be on the brink of another nebulously defined armed conflict, this time with Iran.

As news organizations cover this unfolding event, the public can only hope that publishers and broadcasters have learned to treat the government’s messaging and justification with due skepticism. Unfortunately, there’s already cause for concern.