Hollywood Created the Mujahideen
Well, not really. (Although our constant output of lolita pop-stars and homo-design shows may be why they don’t want the Internet.) But America did! And as the military establishment starts to make their case for ongoing war in central Asia, I thought it appropriate to shine a light on how the Taliban came to be and how attitudes about Islam and Afghanistan have changed since the Eighties.
In this 1998 interview reposted by J. Bradford Delong, former national security advisor to President Carter describes how the US began supplying weapons and aid to the Mujahideen long before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Even more than that, he is proud of his accomplishment – in his opinion, drawing the USSR into an unwinnable war was a key to its eventual collapse, regardless of the consequences.
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: 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 war and looked to provoke it?
Brzezinski: It isn’t quite 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 a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything 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: 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 unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
One could wager he would not be quite so bold after witnessing the rise of Al Queda and the 9/11 attacks. Of course, the roots of this historical irony are common knowledge. So common, in fact, that there’s a modest collection of movies that glorify the Muslim resistance against the Russians with no hint of what might come from arming religious extremists with Stinger missles!
The Living Daylights
Timothy Dalton’s first turn as James Bond brought him into the heart of Soviet occupied Afghanistan. There he meets up with an erudite commander of the Mujahideen who is selling opium to the Russians to buy guns to kill them with. Best lines of the movie:
English sounding Taliban: We had some trouble at he airport.
M: I can’t imagine why.
Charlie Wilson’s War
Okay, so this wasn’t made during the Eighties, nor is it totally ignorant of the eventual impact arming the Taliban would have on international terrorism and the stability of the region. But more than any movie, this fun little picture by Aaron Sorkin shows how we sabotaged the Russians and eventually ourselves. It does make it seem like a pretty low-level operation, though, which I think Brzezinski’s comments pretty much dispel. But shit man, Julia Roberts at the top of her new ubercougar phase!
The fourth installment of the First Blood series (which makes it the third Rambo movie, for you ladies who are reading) was labelled the Most Violent Movie Ever Made by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1990. In the film, John Rambo travels to Afghanistan to deliver weapons which are to be used against the Soviets. As usual, he kills, like, a million people, steals helicopters and defeat a whole army of Russian tanks. In an alternate ending, Rambo even decides to stay in Afghanistan and join the Taliban, and the final shot of the released version of the film includes a dedication to the ‘gallant people of Afghanistan.’
Here’s a clip that pretty much sums up the absurd irony of it all. Enjoy: