Letters from Americans are kept on the American Perspectives page.
I had written an angry satirical article about the new film Charlie Wilson's War, which I have not seen yet, except for extensive excerpts on a History Channel documentary. It purported to be the real story of the late Rep. Charlie Wilson, and had him chortling, I love it as the right-wing Muslim guerrillas whom he and the Reagan administration massively funded through Pakistan and hailed as freedom fighters were about to triumph over the evil Soviet empire.
I was advised to keep my review on tap until I had seen the film, which is reasonable advice.
Yet, Benazir Bhutto was murdered in Pakistan yesterday and the murder, as I see it, has a direct relationship to the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the subject of Charlie Wilson's War.
Afghanistan's history from the late 1970s to the present is very complicated. The country itself was one of the poorest in the world, divided along ethnic tribal lines and long a battleground among great powers, for example, in the 19th century between the British and czarist Russian empires.
Afghanistan bordered the Soviet Union, and ethnic groups who also were part of the Soviet Union were minority populations in Afghanistan. The Soviets had helped to educate a significant number of Afghanis and an influential Communist Party existed in the city of Kabul. Feudal and prefeudal nomadic elites were predominant in much of the country and the
Muslim religion was the primary unifying force.
Afghani Communists took power in Kabul in 1978, faced with threats from the newly established brutal military dictatorship in Pakistan, and also hoping to advance a social revolution, bringing mass education, land reform and other vital social reforms to the people.
The Pakistani military dictator General Zia had publicly executed Muhammad Ali Bhutto, the civilian prime minister whom he overthrew (father of Benazir Bhutto). Zia wasnt the first Pakistani military dictator but he was the worst. His regime turned more and more to rightist
clerical elements as a base of support and also worked with Saudis to establish right-wing religious primary schools in a country where large sections of the population, including a large majority of the female population, were totally illiterate.
Afghani Communists, tragically, were unable to achieve the unity that is a prerequisite for all communist parties everywhere to keep a coalition together and make pro-people gains. They were divided into rival factions which fought each other fiercely over policy. Despite all the
gains made, there were disastrous errors in seeking to advance the revolution into the countryside, great ineptitude in the land reform policy among cadre with a limited understanding of agriculture, and an aggressive self-defeating anti-clericalism in response to the clerical opposition to the revolution.
With the Pakistani military dictatorship under Zia aiding right-wing Muslim guerrillas, President Jimmy Carters National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski defeated Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and gained Carters support to use the CIA to provide aid to the guerrillas.
Brzezinski saw this aid as creating an Afghan trap for the Soviets, manipulating them into a military intervention which, he hoped, would be their Vietnam.
The Soviets did intervene at the end of 1979 to both save the Kabul government, an ally, and advance a social revolution against fiercely reactionary clerically based forces. For the Soviets, the intervention was both a protection of their own borders and also a reassertion of
proletarian internationalist aid for people seeking to make a social revolution against the forces of internal reaction and foreign imperialism.
CIA aid to the Afghan freedom fighters was picking up under the Reagan administration, which used the advertising term Evil Empire, before the real Charlie Wilson got into the act, although Wilson did play the role of a political fixer, using his position on the House
Intelligence Committee to get more and more money and military aid to the freedom fighters while he ran around Afghanistan for many colorful photo ops.
Large numbers of refugees were created by the Afghan war and great atrocities, as there are in all modern wars. In the U.S. and capitalist media, the Soviets were blamed for these atrocities and large sections of the Euro-American left pretty much went along with the view that this
was a battle between David and Goliath in which the social issues were unimportant compared to the Soviet bad guys and the Afghani anti-imperialist good guys.
However, Indian media particularly, along with other non-Soviet sources, emphasized the fanaticism and crimes committed by the guerillas, including the atrocities that they committed against Soviet military personnel, their families, and those Afghani people whom they saw as
collaborators women seeking to go to schools that the Communist government had established, people seeking to free themselves from the domination of CIA-supported gunmen who might beat them brutally if their beards weren't long enough.
While the real Charlie Wilson was running around with U.S. congressmen,General Zia and Afghan mujahedeen, the CIA was recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters from Muslim countries and training them in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas to attack Afghanistan. Money for this war was not only raised from the U.S. appropriations but from
heroin traffic that led Pakistan in the 1990s to have the highest per capita number of heroin addicts in the world.
Benazir Bhutto became prime minister briefly after General Zias death and the restoration of civilian rule. She returned as prime minister in the mid 1990s. The people of Pakistan, less directly than the people of Afghanistan but more so than any other people, suffered from the
counter-revolutionary guerrilla war that Reagan and Zia carried forward against Afghanistan.
As Mikhail Gorbachev began a policy of Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Al Qaeda, or the Base, was founded in 1988 under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, leader of the Saudi Arabian contingent of anti-Communist fighters in Afghanistan, scion of one of the
wealthiest capitalist families in the region, and both fundraiser and major logistical man for the guerrillas, much admired at the time by the CIA with whom he had worked for many years.
The Communist-led government in Kabul was eventually destroyed. In Afghanistan, a warlord terror regime was followed by the ultra-right clerical Taliban regime, whose attempts to terrorize its own people into accepting universal female illiteracy, the primacy of a literalist
interpretation of religious law and misery and poverty in this life as a necessity for the next shocked the people throughout the world.
With the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, Osama bin Laden, who, regardless of his CIA friends, had long seen the U.S. and the West as both a sink of sin and a legion of Christian Crusaders and Jewish Zionists seeking to conquer Islam, substituted the U.S. for the Soviet Union as his main enemy, and, setting himself up in Afghanistan with the wholehearted support of the Taliban government that he and the CIA had largely created, began to launch the attacks that led eventually to the destruction of the World Trade Center.
By then, the CIA was much more interested in covering up its long-term relationship with bin Laden than really doing much about him. Its Pakistani intelligence allies were heavily compromised and infiltrated with Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters, and bin Laden family money was around. So U.S. authorities werent that keen on investigating the activities of the bin Laden black sheep Osama.
Today, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces attack the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan from the base areas that the CIA and the Pakistani ISI used to attack the Soviet-supported Communist government over 20 years ago.
Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, has been murdered under the regime of the present military dictator, who imprisoned and held her husband in jail for years without formal charges, along with many other opponents of the dictatorship, just as her father was in effect murdered by the previous military dictator.
And of course, Pakistan does have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, which it has developed as part of its ongoing conflict with India.
I said at the beginning that I wasn't going to write a review of Charlie Wilsons War until I see the film, but I think this final comment on its advertising is merited. In the commercials for the film, a narrator says with a straight face that without Charlie Wilson history would have been sadly different. Different perhaps, but unless one is a sadist, a masochist, or a reactionary who loves war and destruction for the hell of it, whether it is the destruction of the World Trade Center or the invasion of Iraq happily, not sadly, different.
By: Norman N
About the Author:
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States
I hope you reach to the positive signals of 'Change We Believe In'.
Iranians can't differentiate between Democrats and Republicans. Though their promises and programs have "interior consumption" but the two party's foreign policy is almost the same. Imagine the absence of Persians' burning desires for solution of human rights demands amid Democrat's diplomacy on open and unconditional talks on oil, nuclear weapon.. and promises of "rose garden" to our governors!
On the other hand, your foreign policy is under control of behind scene lobbyists and the CIA's actions. The U.S. nightmare is middle-east nations' awareness, a risky factor for immunize and assurance of America's benefits.
The solution : putting these areas in crisis in which CIA experts know how to do that perfectly!.
Unfortunately, the ancient civilized non-Arab PERSIA, a place for westerners gambling and competition, locates in this hell. Persians and world historical memory never forget American COUP against our Beloved, Nationalist Prime Minister Mr. Mosaddegh, the leader of independence movement for freedom in the 50's. For that coup, marked protesters and opponents were imprisoned, tortured and killed. CIA destroyed Persians' any signs of hope to manage better life forever.
Current unacceptable frustrating situation of Iran is the results of untold solidarity among Britain, the Soviet Union, and America's past wrongful interfere to our country's interior affairs.
We also observe rapid growth of fanatic ideology of extremism inside and outside our borders, thanks to CIA's previous financially supports and training of Islamic extremists to combat against USSR's trace in Afghanistan and now a huge threat to World Peace.
Catch your smart trainees, so called freedom-fighters and now Islamic extremist enemy, if you can !! and keep them from charging innocent people.
About the Author:
Name: Laila - Shansi
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States
Thank you for this opportunity to "voice my thoughts" as a non-American on this site....
I've become brave enough now to venture over to the American Perspectives window and check out letters submitted there....wow, I guess my initial reaction to some views were, how shall we say unlady-like ( haha..)....then as I took the time to mull over some comments I relised as much as we identify as being either American, New Zealander, Australian, Iranian, British, somehow that quiet (and sometimes loud) Patriotic streak overshadows that for the main part we are all like sheep subtley controlled by a much stronger body called "Government".....I don't always understand my own countries Political System and much less the U.S.A's.....my question is "Does Anybody'?...really.......My best friend happens to be an American or should I say A citizen of the U.S.A...(see I'm learning to be Politically correct)...hehe....and he has some very strong Political views and opinions etc...I suppose to remain positive after some discussions my perspective has broadened somewhat, not because of enlightenment but more from the point of view of just how
unstable Governments are...and that emotionally/mentally it is not wise to swallow information just because .......we heard it on C.N.N.....or "they said this".....or my daddy believed that...or our forefathers believed this...or in my case pilgrims fought for this n that.....yes to all those wonderful heroes who sacrificed much for my freedom....I will always strive to educate my sons intellectually and spiritually ,that is how I can be accountable and honor men and women who sacrificed for me.... It's not the fact that men and women disagree( tween cultures particularly), that bothers me its the often angry responses ,ya know the attitude "if you dont agree with me ya can't be on my side, therefore you're an enemy, so I must shut you down, or screw you up......isnt that how power games first begin then develop nationally????.....now my American friend says...I don't understand...I gotta be American to understand....next he will be telling me
I gotta be a man too???....ok I wont go there..hahaha...Take Care All.......
P.S...Appreciate the reply comments to a previous post, made me smile.....
About the Author
Country: New Zealand
Experience With US: Visited the United States
Well this is a cool site. Good morning America How are Ya...say don't ya know me I'm ya neighbors son...I'm the train they call...love that song ,thought Id introduce myself that way....
I was made in New Zealand , been to the States once and loved my time there....of course being in love with a certain American kinda helped....actually I met some very cool hardworking down to earth "real people"...not the silly plastic variety we often see portrayed from "Hollywood".....My Daddy used to say 'People are people" whatever they eat for breakfast" and when they get up in the morning they put their pants on the same way as we do...."one foot at a time".... America and/or Americans are just like me......They want freedom ,I want freedom ,they want their children to be safe ,so do I , they want a decent wage for a hard days work ,so do I....
Of course from the moment we are born we are all influenced by infinite details and influences throughout the years imprinted on our minds via our parents ,our environment , our culture, then comes the 'educators'...the media....and although many think noooo... we are not influenced by media ,its effects are often subtle but sure....personally I like the choices it offers or challenges......
So just to end I want to encourage fellow kiwis to open their minds and don't be afraid of "differences"....of course I don't like the "materialism" that America can take full credit for...but then I don't like the greed of the New Zealand Government either.....America cut the chord to Britain years ago....( over taxes..)...yet we still pay the Crown taxes as well as to our own government...hmmm...that sucks....when I voice that to fellow kiwis they become defences and proclaim how being a Commonwealth Country we are protected by Britian etc , um well they didn't do that to well in the last two wars....(.U.S.A) bailed us out.....cuz most NZ males were serving the British Army overseas fighting Britains war....thats Historical Facts...not just opinion either...
So for the criticism pointed at America I think we should clean up our own back-yard can ask no demand our Government quit sucking up and sending our hard earned taxes back to England!......Perhaps then our gas wont just be for the wealthy and our taxes will be lower......I'm so disheartened that New Zealand is no longer affordable to its own people but has been priced for the greedy and wealthy of this world.....
I look forward to experiencing and contributing to the American way of life again in the future., so fatten that turkey....Stay Safe America...and God bless Us All....
About the Author:
Country: New Zealand
Experience With US: Visited the United States