Propaganda when Nobody is Looking

America and NATO’s war in Afghanistan has continued for almost 17 years now, and hardly anyone is paying any attention. There was much fuss and excitement over the dropping of the so-called “MOAB” on an Islamic State camp on April 13th of this year. Apparently it takes the dropping of a massive bomb to get the citizens of our country to pay attention. What has gone generally unnoticed is the generally poor showing of Afghan National forces and the remaining NATO troops against the resurgent Taliban.

In the much contested Helmand province, the center of many bloody fights over the last decade and a half, the Taliban recently seized the city of Sangin. After withdrawing from the town center the press office of the NATO mission tried to claim that the town wasn’t lost, but that the town center was moved. This is a lie. It would be an injustice to call it “spin” or up-to-date information. This kind of blatant lie should alarm those nations which have a stake in fighting in Afghanistan.

They can only get away with this because no one is paying attention in the first place. But what does it say when the military lies to the public to cover a loss? Questioning American participation in wars is an old habit, generally of the political left, but when those in charge of making life and death decisions for American soldiers begin to actively lie to the public about what is going on everyone should begin to question their nation’s participation in that war. “What’s the point of being there at this point anyway?” There are many reasons, but these have not been deemed important enough to tell the American public in any sort of serious, visible, or coherent way.

NATO and the government of Afghanistan need to make a deal with the Taliban, that is clear. Fighting an unpopular, ignored, and limited war will never lead to any kind of measurable success.

I met an Afghan man and we discussed life under the Taliban. He told me that the Taliban was popular because they were more likely to be honest and just than the secular government. “You cannot bribe the Taliban,” he told me. Dishonesty and a lack of justice, aided and abetted by NATO, are what makes the Taliban attractive and powerful, even if they are brutal totalitarians. For that reason, NATO should find a way out instead of trying to increase the number of soldiers fighting there. Lies cannot win wars alone, and if the war cannot be won by soldiers either, then it should not be fought.

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