Pentagon Dismisses Afghanistan Papers: Look Forward, Not Back

Experts say they don't expect any policy changes

Pentagon officials are continuing to react dismissively to questions about the Afghanistan Papers, and the revelation that the Pentagon systematically lied about the state of the war. This is leading the experts to conclude that the Pentagon does not intend to change its policies.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed comments from other spokesmen, who say that they weren’t entirely familiar with the stories in the media, but that instead of looking back on their misdeeds, they want to look forward into the future of the war.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman surprisingly attacked the primary point of the papers, that the Pentagon was misleading the public, and used that to dodge questions about whether the Pentagon would be more honest in the future. He said the reports of dishonesty were just what people “believed at the time.”

In other words, he isn’t promising that the Pentagon won’t keep lying in the exact same manner. The only indication that things might be different is that since the papers came out,the Pentagon has been refusing to provide any details at all, which seems to be one way to prevent them from lying to the public for the time being.

Analysts say they don’t believe the Pentagon sees any upside to addressing the complaints, and so they are just ignoring it, and pointing out that most people keeping track of the Afghan War knew about this dishonesty long ago.

18+ years into the Afghan War, the Pentagon has largely claimed things are going well, and that they are just about to turn the corner. The Afghanistan Papers show that officials knew this was never the case, but kept telling the public it was anyhow.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.