On Monday's ATC Quil gives us the long history of imperial adventures in Afghanistan. He says this:"In 1978, a communist coup installed a pro-Soviet president. The tribes rose up, and the Soviets invaded. Andrey Avetisyan is Russian ambassador in Kabul....By the mid-'80s, the United States was aiding the Mujahedeen to the tune of half a billion dollars...." [This "mid-80s" claim is furthered with a time-line on the web version of the story.]
Then on Tuesday's ATC - in a report that does at least note that many of the depraved warlords of the post-Soviet civil war are now in the government that the US is backing - we hear only that
"The mujahedeen, a patchwork army of Islamist guerrillas, bolstered with copious funding from Washington, defeated the Soviet army in 1989. What they couldn't do was unite to govern Afghanistan."There are several problems with the NPR narrative:
- It places the beginning of active US involvement in stoking conflict in Afghanistan in the mid-80s, when in fact the US was actively assisting Islamic extremists there starting in the early 1970s. As Robert Dreyfuss has documented, this policy was just one part of the US government decision to encourage and promote Islamic fundamentalist movements as a counterweight to nationalist movements in the Middle East and Central Asia.
- The NPR version also ignores the role the US played in luring the Soviets into the Afghanistan trap (as recalled by Robert Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski), leaving listeners to conclude that the US was simply reacting to events that were out of its control.
- Finally, NPR presents the US as simply funding what mujahedeen forces existed, instead of accurately exposing how the US recruited, organized and supplied the most ruthless, criminal and fanatic elements for fighting in Afghanistan. The idea was to foster these Islamic terrorists as a way of attacking the Soviet Union. The fate of the Afghan people never figured into (and still doesn't) the geopolitical maneuverings of US foreign policy players. As this pre 9/11 article from The Atlantic notes:
"...the CIA began providing weapons and funds -- eventually totaling more than $3 billion -- to a fratricidal alliance of seven Afghan resistance groups, none of whose leaders are by nature democratic, and all of which are fundamentalist in religion to some extent, autocratic in politics, and venomously anti-American."
"And many of even the harshest Afghan critics of the Obama policy think it would be a disaster for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan in the state it is today..."Really?...
[click picture to view the original WWI version]