Sunday, February 10, 2008

The poison fruit of insincere aid

According to a New York Times news story about the February 10 Munich Conference on Security Policy, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was asked by a member of the Russian Parliament if the U.S. was responsible for creating Al Qaeda by funding the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to resist the Soviet occupation during the 1980s.

“After that, when the Soviet troops left, for all intents and purposes, people who were created by you were idle,” said Alexey Ostrovskiy.

Gates replied “If we bear a particular responsibility for the role of the mujahedeen and Al Qaeda growing up in Afghanistan, it has more to do with our abandonment of the country in 1989 than our assistance of it in 1979.”

Of course, we couldn’t have abandoned Afghanistan in 1989 had we not assisted them for the entire decade before that. And without that assistance wouldn’t Afghanistan have become part of the Soviet Union until it collapsed? Or would Soviet success in Afghanistan have delayed or even precluded the demise of the communist state?

If we conclude that the breakup of the Soviet Union was inevitable, the question of what Afghanistan would have become should be of interest to more than historians. Which independent Central Asia nation would they be more like: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan?

None of the above nations lost 1.0 – 1.5 million civilian lives in a war against Soviet occupation. None of those countries are accused of supporting Islamic terrorism now. They may not be democracies, but they aren’t nations of people festering with a justified resentment against America’s selfish basis for past meddling.

The fact is the U.S. support of the Afghan resistance had nothing at all to do with concern for the people of that nation. We weren’t involved in supporting Afghanistan in any way prior to the 80s. We didn’t care what happened to the civilian population during the war against the Soviet occupation. We didn’t care to help them establish a democracy afterwards.

Gates is splitting something finer than hairs. The mujahedeen was our proxy guerilla force for the sole purpose of inflicting damage on the Soviet Union. They remembered that our interests were entirely selfish, just as the Shiite and Sunni militias that we’re supporting now will remember us if the occupancy of Iraq continues on indefinitely.

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by Rich in Juneau