Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Paving the Road to Hell

Juan Cole argues that the root cause of the rise of armed Islamic fundamentalism is Reagan's decision to arm the Afghani Mujahadeen. While I think a good argument can be made that was one of the causes, I don't know that we can or even should lay all of the blame on Reagan.

Charlie Wilson also gets credit/blame as he was the one who really pushed to arm the Mujahadeen. The decision to arm the Afghans was not made in a vacuum. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan less than five years after the Vietnam War came to its sorry conclusion and it was a sore spot that both the Soviets and the Chinese supplied thousands of tons of war materiel to the North Vietnamese. There was a clear feeling of "I'll do unto you like you did unto me."

Further, one might argue that a root cause was the fact that when the Afghans managed to drive out the Soviets, the first Bush Administration said "nice job" and then had nothing to do with Afghanistan. There was no serious development aid, nothing to help the Afghans transition to a stable government.

(And this was not the only example of the perfidity of George H.W. Bush. His Administration urged the Shiites to revolt and when they did rise up against Saddam's government, Bush41 did nothing other than wring its collective hands at the brutal crushing of the rebellion by Saddam's forces. )

If the Russians had not gone into Afghanistan, then there would not have been an Afghan resistance to arm. So if one is going to mine history, one should excavate all the way down the vein.


BadTux said...

Couple of things:

1. There was never any Afghan "resistance" to arm in the first place, just competing Afghan militias in a civil war that had been going on for close to a decade by that point. Some of the militias were on the side of the "government", some of the militias were in opposition. Which militia was which depended on a number of factors, such as who was paying better at any particular time, tribal emnities, etc., and militias switched sides regularly. Indeed, some of the "Northern Alliance" militias that we are currently allied with fought against us in that action.

2. Reagan did not make the decision to arm the opposing militias. Carter did. Reagan only made the decision to escalate the support by giving them anti-aircraft missiles to neutralize the Soviet helicopter support. The PKI (Pakistani Intelligence) in particular strongly opposed this escalation, fearing blowback from their own radical Islamists. As it turned out, the PKI eventually countered the blowback by creating their OWN radical Islamist militia, called "The Taliban", to kick out the radical Islamist militias that we'd backed.

3. The Communist Afghan government in Kabul did not fall until the Soviet Union fell in 1992 thereby cutting off the money supply used to pay the militias on their side. The militias then turned on each other in a new power struggle. The Communist government in Kabul lasted far longer than Saigon did after we left, four years as vs. 2 years for our proxy in Saigon. So we couldn't start rebuilding after the Russians left because, duh, the Commies were still in power. There really wasn't anything good to do at that point. Then after that, all the militias were busy fighting each other, meaning that there was nobody to give money to in order to start the rebuilding, until the PKI's new militia, the Taliban, came in and put an end to that and brought peace to Afghanistan -- at a price. So rebuilding Afghanistan would have required giving major and significant support to the Taliban, something which understandably no President has been very happy about, thus why there was no significant rebuilding support prior to 2002. So can't blame Reagan, Bush I, or Clinton for the lack of rebuilding support after the Soviets left, the place has been a mess for over 30 years now. Bush II, on the other hand, had an opportunity... and blew it, preferring to go after Saddam instead.

- Badtux the Geostrategic Penguin

Comrade Misfit said...

I use the term "resistance" to mean those who are fighting an occupation by a foreign power. It is not unheard of for "resistance movements" to comprise several factions.

There were attempts to bring about reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew and before the afghan government fell. None of them came to fruition, in part, because the previous Bush Administration did not back those attempts with any degree of seriousness.

Indeed, if the Karzai government ultimately falls, part of the reason for that will be because this Bush Administration prefers to spend money on military stuff rather than civil stuff. But that's to be expected, because if something does not involve killing people, George W. Bush tends to lose interest.