GIVE or take a few admirable exceptions, politicians are a deceitful breed. On the international stage few epitomise this more than US President Donald Trump. Indeed there was something of a preordained outcome in the news this week that Trump had been impeached.

As one New York Times journalist wryly observed: “For the most unpredictable of presidents, it was the most predictable of outcomes.”

As of December 10, Trump’s 1055th day in office, he has made 15,413 false or misleading claims, according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker’s database.

Note “false” or “misleading”, for there is after all no such thing as an outright lie when politicians speak. Distortions, half-truths, exaggerations maybe, but God forbid, never an outright lie.

Such deceptions are only matched by the arrogance with which some politicians dismissively respond to accusations of lying. There’s no shortage of examples, but two for some inexplicable reason always spring to my mind.

The first is from back in the 1990s when the late Conservative minister Alan Clark was asked about arms sales to Iraq and pompously replied that during parliamentary questions he’d been “economical with the actualite”.

The second is from former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Malcolm Bruce who, when asked whether lying is widespread in politics, is credited with the bumbling but more “honest” answer: “No. Well, yes.”

The list of culprits is endless, but while we might resign ourselves to the fact that politicians lie copiously and consistently, the results of such deceptions often have a profound and devastating impact on the lives of many ordinary people across the world.

READ MORE: David Pratt: The Afghan people are still devastated by war 40 years on

There is something perversely fitting that in this same week that Donald Trump was officially impeached over his abuse of power, the so-called Afghanistan Papers were published in the US.

The National:

Having been caught up in the throes of the recent General Election, few of us here in the UK might have paid much attention to the publication of these documents, even if we should have. For they reveal in the most searing way possible how for years both the American public and the world were persistently and deliberately misled over the unwinnable nature of the Afghan war.

And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that this is all Trump’s doing yet again, let’s not forget this goes all the way back to the White House administrations of Obama and Bush. The US has, after all, now been at war in Afghanistan for a scarcely believable 18 years.

What the Afghanistan Papers have revealed should concern us here in the UK just as much as it should Americans.

One can only imagine what those families of servicemen and women lost on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere make of the documents’ findings, given how much doubt the papers have cast on almost every aspect of the war’s prosecution.

From the re-establishment of Afghanistan’s opium and heroin economy to the myriad problems of training Afghan forces and the massive sums that went down the drain in misconceived “humanitarian” and reconstruction schemes, the papers expose a vast level of ineptitude.

Most significant of all, though, it throws into the spotlight how each of these individual failures were until now kept removed from public scrutiny by political leaders including presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, who were consistently dishonest as to how the war was going.

In obtaining and publishing this confidential trove of documents, The Washington Post is to be commended. In parallels with the release of the Pentagon Papers that revealed the extent of US political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967, it has exposed the extent to which presidents, politicians and military leaders alike manipulated measures of progress in order to maintain public support for a war they knew they could not win.

HERE was a classic example of what in American political circles is known as LOL. No, not the acronym most of us are familiar with on the internet or social media for “laugh out loud”, for there is nothing funny in this instance.

Instead LOL, in the parlance of US political campaign strategists, means “lie or lose”, or to put it another way, withhold the truth from the public in order to win politically. Sound familiar?

The National:

READ MORE: Donald Trump impeached by House of Representatives

What the Afghanistan Papers brought home is that this war has cost the US $1 trillion and killed more than 2300 of its service personnel while leaving more than 20,000 injured. These staggering statistics come before we even stop to consider the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians who have died in the conflict. In some of the Afghanistan Papers interviews the candour of those involved is biting if somewhat belated.

“What were we trying to do here?” asked former US Army General Douglas Lute, who was a senior adviser to the Bush and Obama administrations.

“We didn’t have the foggiest understanding of what we were undertaking … if the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction,” Lute confessed in his interview.

Thanks to the publication of the Afghanistan Papers the American people and others around the world can now read for themselves how politicians callously fib and fabricate in order to take us into and keep us in conflicts they know are unwinnable but insist on prosecuting to help keep them in power.

Some might argue, quite accurately, it has ever been thus. In recent years alone most of us still remember all too well how Tony Blair took Britain to war in Iraq on a false prospectus, convincing himself in the process he had not misled parliament or the people.

This week in the US we have once again witnessed the extent to which so many leading politicians have a fraught relationship with the truth, often with calamitous and costly results. That’s why the Afghanistan Papers and the misconduct they expose matter not just to Americans but to every one of us.