Whiplash and Reverse Déjà Vu
I must confess that interventionists have given me a case of foreign-policy whiplash given the constantly changing array of official enemies of the United States on which Americans are supposed to focus their attention. One day it’s China. The next day it’s Russia. Then Iran. Venezuela. North Korea. Syria. The terrorists. The Muslims. Illegal immigrants. ISIS. Al Qaeda. Drug dealers. The Taliban. My neck is hurting!
Today, the attention is back on Russia. According to the New York Times, unnamed U.S. “intelligence” sources are saying Russian “intelligence” has “secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.”
In addition to my case of foreign-policy whiplash, I’m now suffering from a case of reverse déjà vu!
When it was the Soviet Union doing the invading and occupying of Afghanistan, the U.S. government was helping the Mujahideen to kill Soviet soldiers. U.S. officials were doing this by supplying weaponry to those who were opposing the Soviet invasion and occupation of the country.
The official story was that that U.S. support began after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. But in a 1998 interview with the weekly French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, President Jimmy Carter’s national-security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, clarified the record. He said that the support actually began six months before the Soviet invasion.
During the interview, Brzezinski provided the reason for the early support:
Brzezinski: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?
Brzezinski: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan, nobody believed them. However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?
Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
In other words, U.S. officials relished the fact that they had induced the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan and that countless Russian soldiers would be killed in the ensuing war, just as tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers had been killed in the Vietnam quagmire. That’s what Brzezinski meant when he gleefully said that the Soviet Union would be given “its Vietnam War.”
I have always wondered what Brzezinski’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks was. I wonder if he still believed that it was worth it to give the Soviet Union it’s own Vietnam war, especially since “agitated Muslims” in Afghanistan ultimately became Al Qaeda, which later retaliated against U.S. interventionism in the Middle East with a string of terrorist attacks against the United States.
Of course, once the Soviets ceased its 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, Russian soldiers stopped dying at the hands of the U.S.-supported Mujahideen. By the same token, it goes without saying that if the U.S. ceased its 19-year occupation of Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers would no longer have to be concerned with suffering senseless deaths at the hands of the Taliban, whether Russian-supported or not.
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