Afghanistan War Logs

The Guardian, New York Times, and Der Spiegel have today unveiled the War Logs, a huge collection of leaked reports whose dissemination was managed by Wikileaks. I have only had a chance to scratch the surface so far, and while there is nothing jaw-droppingly surprising in there, the documents are fascinating in their detailed revelation of the methods of war.

Some examples: I was intrigued that the massaging of public opinion goes as far as to pretend the Taliban didn’t have anti-aircraft capability; that the disarray in the Afghan security forces is not simply manifested in laziness, corruption, thuggishness and incompetence as is commonly caricatured (though these things do all occur, and horribly so, as shown here), but also manifests itself in extensive internecine violence; and this great piece reveals the tactical and financial costs incurred when drones unexpectedly crash (which happens rather often, it seems).

Another interesting aspect of this: the three different publications which were granted early access to the documents demonstrate quite different foci in their interpretations of the material.

The Guardian site is here, and has a useful introductory video; it seems to concentrate more on the unsavoury and incompetent aspects of the war effort, and places much of the action in the context of the legality (or otherwise) of the war.

The New York Times site is here, and highlights the negative traits of some of the regional allies cultivated by the British and American forces. This is the most anecdotal interpretation of the documents, and (very much in the American tradition of journalism) these reports are used to flesh out the human aspects of the narrative.

Der Spiegel’s site is here, and focuses on the overall strategic objectives and how the situation is rapidly declining.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. And for those of you in London and free on Tuesday (tomorrow), Julian Assange of Wikileaks will be speaking at the excellent Frontline Club:

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