There are, in the popular mind, two main drives for war, one defensive and one offensive.

Every group or government likes to frame its motives as defensive. The other side is threatening our security, our values, they have some defect that we cannot tolerate.

In Afghanistan, the biggest (of many) issues is the lack of civil rights for women and the primitive justice system. Never mind that women were not allowed to vote in the United States 100 years ago and to this day some places in the United States will send a 14 year old to adult prison for life with no chance of parole.

When Hitler invaded Poland and other countries his rationale was understood by his people. There was a clear threat to the homeland and war, terrible as it was, seemed necessary. Today, countries that do not have food for their people will spend vast amounts of money trying to "conquer" or "punish" a neighbor, and the reasons for fighting seem perfectly logical to those involved.

The first clear deduction a person can make is that these wars have little to do with genuine strategic needs or external threats. Rather they derive from some psychological issues in the leaders, or from hidden interests that the broader population are not in the loop on.

Individuals have brains, motives, weaknesses. Countries do not.

Any person can be understood, if you take the time. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot all were friendly with animals, liked children, had favorite foods, etc. And they all had serious psychological flaws that were camouflaged well. In other words they were all just like you and me and every other person who is not qualified to lead a country in turmoil.

If you ask almost any American to name a single Taliban leader they will say they cannot, or they will name Osama bin Laden. Most Americans have not the faintest idea what the philosophy of their enemy is, beyond silly propaganda pumped out by the government. You might argue that most Americans do not have the ability to understand a culture other than their own, and you would be describing a quality usually attributed to the Taliban.

As long as American leaders try to isolate Americans from foreign policy through lies, we are sabotaging our interests and moving toward another loss.

World War two, a great victory, was notable for the straightforwardness of the government toward American citizens. There was certainly "propaganda", but almost any American accurately understood the strategic picture.

Vietnam was quite a bit muddier. The government came up with various vague explanations for the war, not a single one of which was close to the truth. The basic argument of the politicians boiled down to "Trust us or we will investigate you". 58,000 Americans died, hundreds of thousands were permanently injured. And still no one has publicly explained why we really went to war.

Afghanistan was invaded under the pretext of 9/11. Did it make any sense? Of course not.

The Taliban were hill folk being used by more sophisticated players in other countries, places we were afraid to fight, so we chose Afghanistan. Our generals keep active so they can say "We are doing our part". But are they doing their part? Spending several billion dollars a week to kill hill people who do not know anything about America, except that it is occupying their country. Lying to Americans about progress in the war, pretending victory might be around the corner, when every sensible person knows better.

And the worst part is that, as during the Vietnam war, any public figure or major journalist who simply tells the truth must fear retribution from the government. America's founding fathers would rain curses on the U.S. government employees who are ruining a great democracy.