One of the most important messages or conclusions to be drawn from the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago is what they didn’t reveal, and that was: In some 7,000 pages of high-level discussions, they didn’t reveal a single compelling or even remotely realistic basis for continuing the war. Nor did they answer the question of: Why are we there? And that’s the conclusion: that there wasn’t an answer to be given. It couldn’t be inferred from a very small release of papers, say 10 pages or 20 pages. You really had to see that, year after year, nobody was coming up with or reporting any kind of success.
And the same is true with this six-year compilation to show that, year after year, the process really isn’t changing, and that the more we increased our presence in Afghanistan, the stronger the Taliban was growing. I’m sure, by the way, that this is still the case. A leak I would like to see right now is what the change in Taliban strength has been over these past seven months of President Obama’s new strategy. Don’t wait for the administration to release that because I’m sure it would be very embarrassing to the strategy. I’m sure that their official estimates of Taliban strength as of July are greater than the estimate in December when Obama initiated that strategy.
Now, why does that have to be leaked? Because that undercuts the demand by the administration for more money. It indicates that the more money we put over there, and the more troops we put over there, and the more airplane missions we fly killing civilians as reported in these reports, the stronger the Taliban gets. In effect, we are recruiting for the Taliban, and we are recruiting much faster and broader than we are killing or depleting or discouraging them. That was true in Vietnam.