"For weeks, the United States public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan war against what it was told was a "city of 80,000 people" as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marjah was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centers in Helmand.

It turns out, however, that the picture of Marjah presented by military officials and reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as an historic turning point in the conflict."

[— In truth… blush confused —]

"Marjah is not a city or even a real town, but a few clusters of farmers' homes amid a large agricultural area that covers much of the southern Helmand River Valley."

Deemed by the United States military as a logistical hub of the Taliban in Helmand province, Marjah - "a city of 80,000 people" - was chosen to be the scene of a "large and loud victory". But it turns out Marjah isn't even a town, but rather one of the clearest and most dramatic examples of a war of perception as outlined in the US's counter-insurgency doctrine. — By Gareth Porter. Mar 9, 2010

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy.