As the U.S. and NATO casualties rise from the war in Afghanistan, with 2010 being the deadliest year of the nine-year war for the U.S., the question needs to be asked of how we got involved in that interminable and unwinnable conflict? The Afghan war has been dubbed Barack Obama’s War but its origins go back much earlier. Is the U.S. military disaster in Afghanistan an instance of blowback?
What is the standard definition of “blowback”? The U.S. intervenes illegally in a volatile and unstable scenario and over time the consequences of that criminality come back to reek havoc on U.S. domestic and foreign policy. That definition is as good as any.
The U.S. overthrew Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953 in a CIA-engineered “regime change”. He was democratically elected but he threatened to nationalize British Petroleum (BP) and potential U.S. oil firms in Iran. Twenty five years later, the inevitable result was the Iranian Revolution whose militants directly blamed the U.S. and who dub the U.S. “the Great Satan”.
Now, that is classic blowback, the textbook definition. We created that outcome. Yet U.S. policymakers ignore and suppress this obvious cause. Instead, they manufacture delusional explanations, fabrications, and rationalizations. These policy wonks argue that Iran is sui generis and that their animus at the U.S. is motivated by their hatred for our freedom and democracy.
The U.S. armed and created the mujahedeen Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan. The U.S. made them viable. Ossama bin Laden was one of those mujahedeen Charlie Wilson empowered. Twenty years later, these Islamic Freedom Fighters created by Ronald Reagan are flying planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Centers. The U.S. also helped these Arab-Afghan mujahedeen illegally enter Bosnia to fight for the Muslim Army there during the 1992-1995 civil war.
Charlie Wilson was a major supporter of U.S. involvement in the Bosnian civil war on the side of the Bosnian Muslim faction. Wilson toured the former Yugoslavia for five days in January, 1993. When he returned to the U.S., he recommended to the Bill Clinton Administration that the UN imposed arms embargo be illegally and unilaterally lifted for the Bosnian Muslim armed forces. He rationalized this illegal action as follows: “This is good versus evil and, if we do not want to Americanize this, then what do we want to Americanize? We have to stand for something.” Bosnia became another 1980s Afghanistan with the Bosnian Muslim forces in the role of the Arab-Afghan mujahedeen. Charlie Wilson urged the U.S. government to remake the Bosnian civil war into another Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, according to Peter Bergen in Holy War Inc. (Free Press, 2001), most of the U.S. aid to the Arab-Afghan mujahedeen during Operation Cyclone went to Islamic militant Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a senior Taliban leader who supported and backed Al-Qaeda. In other words, most of the aid went to the Taliban and, through them, to Ossama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. On February 19, 2003, the U.S. State Department designated Hekmatyar as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”. Hekmatyar was transmogrified from “freedom fighter” to “terrorist”.
And what were the consequences of this illegal U.S. support for the Bosnian Muslim faction?
When Arab-Afghan mujahedeen, now dubbed Al-Qaeda, blew up the WTC, these mujahedeen had Bosnian Muslim passports that Alija Izetbegovic issued to them and Bosnian military experience as veterans of the Bosnian conflict.
U.S.-backed Bosnian Muslim mujahedeen on parade in Zenica, Bosnia in 1995
Now this is an instance of classic blowback. What part of this is so difficult to understand?
Of course, we can speculate that these attacks would have occurred even if the Charlie Wilsons of the world had not created them. But this is to be in denial and delusional.
Al-Qaeda needed the infrastructure, the funding, the planning, the training, the logistical knowledge, the financial network that the U.S. and CIA provided. After all, the U.S. recruited Ossama bin Laden from Saudi Arabia. This takes a massive logistical support system that only the U.S. government and CIA could provide. Moreover, the Al-Qaeda group needed the Taliban regime in Kabul to train and organize and to use as a base of operations. The U.S., in essence, created the Taliban and put it in power. We cheered and gloated when the Taliban hung the secular leaders. We had won in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the Bosnia experience made Al-Qaeda global and gave them the skill and confidence to pull off 9/11. It was the U.S. that empowered Al-Qaeda in Bosnia. So the U.S. did everything to create the scenario for 9/11. It is classic blowback.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan meeting with Arab-Afghan mujahedeen commanders at the White House in 1985
Critics adduce that the U.S. support of the mujahedeen led directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The illegal means justified the laudable ends.
But this is just a myth concocted to rationalize our support of Muslim cutthroats who were cutting the throats of Christians. This is a rationalization with no proof.
Now what is the proof that U.S. support of the mujahedeen resulted in the collapse of the USSR? The mujahedeen shot down Russian helicopters with U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles and killed Orthodox Christians. But the Soviet troops killed mujahedeen insurgents and prevented the emergence of a radical Islamic regime such as the U.S.-backed Taliban. The secenario is similar to the one in Afghanistan in 2010. Like the Soviet Union, the U.S. is attempting to secure a moderate Islamic regime in Kabul.
That fallacious argument also goes against common sense and human nature. War unites a nation and makes it stronger and more unified. Just look at America now after 9/11. CIA support for the mujahedeen kept the USSR together and proved to everyone that the U.S./CIA danger to Russia was real. It united the USSR, just like 9/11 did with us.
Finally, the U.S. took a cynical posture about intervention. Kill them all and let Allah sort them out. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
But most of those Soviet soldiers the CIA-trained mujahedeen were killing were Orthodox Christians as were most of the Bosnian Serb troops. They were, however, the wrong kinds of Christians, Orthodox or Eastern Christians. U.S. aid was used to kill Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarus Orthodox Christians and Bosnian Serb Orthodox Christians. The “atheist” label was something U.S. propaganda concocted.
Was U.S. policy right in creating the Islamic mujahedeen to kill Orthodox Christians?
Also, wonks say this was the Russian Vietnam. But that is pure absurdity and nonsense.
The CIA was on the Soviet border threatening to unleash Ossama bin Laden and his mujahedeen cutthroats against the USSR. That would be like the KGB training Mexican Freedom Fighters on the border of Texas to come in and kill Gringos and take back Tejas which the Gringo criminally seized in 1845. Now, that is a no brainer. You intervene. No American would allow that to happen. But that is what the CIA was doing in Afghanistan, using and exploiting Islam to take back those Soviet republics that were Muslim.
Vietnam was an ideologically-driven military adventure, similar to the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, 6,000 miles away that was based on the “domino theory”. We put in a dictator even though the majority saw him as a U.S. stooge and puppet. There was no support for the U.S. occupation whatsoever. There was no democracy or freedom in the U.S.-created puppet state of South Vietnam. Everyone wanted the U.S. out of there.
Vietnam was not on the border with California. It was not a threat to the U.S. Neither was Iraq in 2003.
But the claim that our support of the mujahedeen brought down the USSR is unplausible because it goes against reason and human nature. War unites us. Threats create unity. George W. Bush knew that well. So did Adolf Hitler.
This is a “big lie” created by those who created Ossama bin Laden and the mujahedeen, such as Charlie Wilson, who have a guilt complex for supporting Muslims who in turn killed Christians. But Wilson claimed that it was, in effect, “genocide” that motivated good old Charlie Wilson. Seeing all those Muslim refugees ignited his religious benevolence. He was a humanitarian.
But Wilson’s support of right-wing dictator Anastasio Somosa in Nicaragua showed what actually motivated his foreign policy. Wilson sought to prop up the Somosa dictatorship and to supply the dictator with a CIA-trained army of 1,000 men, CIA “freedom fighters”, if he would provide $100 million. Greed and self-aggrandizement were always the motives. Feeding a cocaine addiction was another motive.
As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in 1980, he was able to double the ai to the mujahedeen. In 1983, he was able to pump an additional $40 million to the mujahedeen while later he was able to get $300 million more in aid.
It was a policy that was criminal and immoral. And it united the USSR and kept it together. And it created Ossama bin Laden and led to 9/11. It created global terrorism as we know it now.
That is what the supporters of the Arab-Afghan mujahedeen in Afganistan and in Bosnia, such as Charlie Wilson, are in denial about. You can make as many movies as you want, but that does not change the facts.
U.S. illegal support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan did not bring down the Soviet Union by creating Ossama bin Laden and his forces. The U.S. only engaged in an immoral and criminal act that resulted in 9/11, when the U.S. funded and trained mujahedeen Freedom Fighters killed approximately 3,000 Americans.
The truth is not as pretty as lies. So delusions and deceptions continue. Charlie Wilson is even transmogrified into a hero by Hollywood in the biopic Charlie Wilson’s War (2007).
“I was duped in the Nineties by the sob story, endlessly portrayed on the ‘news’ and even in Hollywood movies, that the Muslims were a persecuted minority being slaughtered by fascistic Serbs.”
This begs the question: By whom? Who duped you? Who brainwashed you?
The answer is the U.S. government and the U.S. media. The U.S.-manufactured propaganda war reached ludicrous and improbable levels. Remember the Nazi Concentration Camps the Serbs were running in Bosnia? The mass rapes? The rape motels? The rape camps? The Holocaust-scale “genocide”?
It was the U.S. government that created the Bosnian War in the first place. The U.S. told the Bosnian Muslims to discount the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats and go ahead and create a Muslim State in Europe. The U.S. told Alija Izetbegovic, a convicted felon and a rabid Muslim ultranationalist, to reject the Lisbon Agreement between the Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Muslims and to declare a Muslim state. He was told by U.S. ambassador Warren Zimmermann that he need not worry. The U.S. media and military would help him out. That is when the war started.
The parties had earlier agreed at Lisbon to preserve the system the Communists created to allow each of the three groups in Bosnia to have a say in the government. The U.S. rejected this plan because it was a compromise. The U.S. told Alija Izetbegovic: Muslims are the largest group in Bosnia, but not the majority. Do what you want. Do not negotiate or compromise with the Bosnian Serbs and Croats. Then the civil war broke out.
But the U.S. was 100% behind this carnage and responsible or culpable for it.
The same is true with Kosovo. Remember how the Albanian Muslims were supposed to be seeking only greater rights and freedoms. Wrong. They were seeking an Albanian state, which is illegal under the UN and international law.
The way the U.S. got around this illegality was by concocting a genocide scenario.
Genocide trumps illegality. We can bomb you and take over your country if we can claim that you are committing genocide. Of course, there was no genocide. But once the U.S. created an Albanian Kosovo state, who cared?
Just like in Iraq. Once the US hung Saddam Hussein and took over the country and killed an allegedly one million Iraqis, who cared that Bush lied about the WMDs? Who cared that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks? The mission was accomplished. Move on to the next “liberation”.
By Carl K. Savich