Top US General Denies That US Troops Died in Vain in Afghanistan

'I don't think anybody has died in vain, per se'

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley sought to defend the Afghan War on Friday, despite the Afghanistan Papers showing systematic official lies about the failed conflict, insisting that the documents were a “mischaracterization” of the war, and that there was no unified decision to deceive the public.

Rather, the position here seems to be that hundreds of Pentagon officials took it upon themselves and each individually decided to deceive the public a little bit, culminating in a colossal lie which couldn’t be explicitly blamed on anyone.

Gen. Milley insisted the war had been a success in that there hadn’t been any specific terror attacks out of Afghanistan for the war’s duration, and particularly objected to the idea that anyone had died “in vain” in the conflict.

I don’t think anybody has died in vain, per se,” Milley said, saying if anyone’s death was in vain, he “could not look at myself in the mirror.” Since he can still do that, he’s concluded no one died in vain.

The entire idea that troops died in vain is largely a military creation at any rate, built to try to shame politicians into keeping the war going on the notion that if the war is lost all the deaths were in vain.

Yet now, the war is plainly lost, and officials are still looking to give those deaths some specific merit. Broadly, assigning meaning to the deaths is something that was largely just an exercise military brass sought in the first place, and should have little impact on either US policy in Afghanistan going forward, or culpability on the years of deception from the Afghanistan Papers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.