Emotions are running high since the United States official ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan. Lots of people have lots of opinions on the evacuations, the attack by ISIS-K, the Taliban, President Biden’s actions and every single aspect of the war from when it was started by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama and President Trump -- architect of the U.S. agreement to withdraw this year.
In circumstances like this, people seeking news and social media posts that back up their position – confirmation bias. And they’re sharing that news and those posts too often without doing any of their own homework or at least trying to fact check.
Here are two cases in point from the last 24 hours. A college friend posted on social media that the U.S. had left behind a vast trove of military equipment which the Taliban was now using. I pushed back and said that figure represents the investment over 20 years and that much of the equipment at the airport had been disabled. He said he didn’t see any reporting on that from ABC, NBS, CBS, CNN and Fox.
It took 5 minutes to find and share news articles from each of those outlets citing top generals explaining how the departing U.S. military has disabled the planes and helicopters. Detailed breakdowns on how U.S. spent money in Afghanistan on munitions and equipment took another minute to find.
Example No. 2 – A friend posted on social media this morning that the U.S. had left its service dogs behind in Afghanistan.
It took less than 2 minutes to find multiple credible conservative, mainstream, rightwing and liberal news sources debunking that allegation. The conservative Military Times debunked the Twitter user who posted pictures alleged to be U.S. service dogs in cages at the Kabul airport. The Military Times article went so far as to note that the military has a huge amount invested in its service dogs and brought them home, and also interviewed the manager of a Kabul street dog rescue organization who said those were his dogs. To their credit, this person deleted the post once provided with more information.
People post provocative things to get attention and advance their beliefs, but far too often they discredit themselves for their failure to do a quick internet search.