Friday, October 10, 2008
al-Qaeda - an American creation (thanks to Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and Brzezinski)
The information that follows comes, in large part, from Craig Unger's book, House of Bush, House of Saud (Scribner, New York, NY, 2004)
It all started, actually, with President Jimmy Carter. Upon the advice of his "hawkish national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski," Carter, on July 3, 1979, "signed the first directive to secretly aid Afghan rebels known as the mujahideen who were fighting the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul."
It was part of a plan to involve the Soviets "in a brutal, expensive, futile, and endless war that would lead to the disintegration of their entire empire." The ultimate goal was to win the Cold War!
It worked. Five months after Carter's directive, the Soviets marched into Afghanistan to put down the rebels.
When Ronald Reagan and his sidekick, George H. W. Bush, took office, "they eagerly embraced" the strategy devised by Brzezinski and Carter. William Casey, CIA director, was also an avid supporter. And, at the time, it made a certain kind of sense. A CIA report in late 1982 determined the the Soviets would never be able to beat the mujahideen, even with 50,000 thousand additional troops.
After a certain amount of cajoling and wining and dining, the United States convinced Saudi Arabia to assist with funding the mujahideen. The Saudis agreed, not only providing money but also men. "Thousands of young warriors calling themselves Afghan Arabs streamed out of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, and all over the Middle East to aid the mujahideen. Neither the United States nor the Saudis seemed to mind that the crusading young Muslims could not have cared less about helping America win the Cold War."
Enter Osama bin Laden. He was young then, the son of a mega-rich Saudi businessman. He left the good life behind and headed to Afghanistan, "incensed and enraged," to fight the atheist Soviet invaders.
"For bin Laden, the war was not only a historic turning point during which he would emerge as a leader, it was also a momentous time in Muslim history." Osama and his friends saw their battle in cosmic terms - Muslims against one of the world's great superpowers. "One day in Afghanistan," said Osama, "counted for more than a thousand days praying in a mosque."
At that point the interests of George H. W. Bush and Osama bin Laden converged. "In using bin Laden's Arab Afghans as proxy warriors against the Soviets, Bush advocated a policy that was fully in line with American interests at that time. But he did not consider the long-term implications of supporting a network of Islamic fundamentalist rebels." [My emphasis]
[Note the parallels between George H. W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush: The pertinent line is "he did not consider the long-term implications..."]
The support Bush provided to the Afghan rebels was fed through MAK (Maktab al-Khidamat or Services Offices). According to John Loftus, an official with the Justice Department at the time, "Bush was in charge of the covert operations that supported the MAK. They were essentially hiring a terrorist to fight terrorism."
One of the cofounders of MAK was Osama bin Laden, and MAK later metamorphosed into al-Qaeda! MAK has been linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.
To reiterate: George H. W. Bush sided with one devil to fight other "devils." Unger says, again, the strategy "worked," at least for a time. "In 1985, a CIA assessment estimated that there had already been ninety-two thousand combined Soviet and Afghan casualties -- more than twice that of the rebels -- and that the Soviets were 'no closer than they were in 1979 to achieving their goals.'"
Reagan, Bush, William Casey and other American leaders were delighted and the United States upped the ante. "By 1987, well into the second term of the Reagan-Bush administration, the United States began to provide the rebels with nearly $700 million in military assistance a year."
But that was only part of our support for bin Laden and his mujahideen. We gave them "intelligence, training, and equipment that allowed them to make scattered strikes against factories, military installations, and storage depots that were actually inside the Soviet Union."
The Bush team also provided "satellite reconnaissance data, intercepted Soviet intelligence ... sniper rifles, timing devices for tons of C-4 explosives for urban sabotage, antitank missiles, and other sophisticated equipment."
For the mujahideen it was like an American Christmas. Bush and company sent Stinger missiles, those "portable, shoulder-fired antiaircraft guided missiles with infrared seekers for downing low-flying helicopters and planes." These were used very effectively, with a hit rate of 89 percent. The Afghan rebels, using Stinger missiles, shot down an average of one airplane a day.
While this was going on, bin Laden was engaged in building a huge complex which included arms storage, a training facility and medical center. More than 25,000 Islamic militants gathered to do battle against the Soviet atheists.
The Soviets were bleeding, besieged and bewildered.
According to a February 1987 CIA assessment, the Afghan war "had led to censure of the Soviets within the UN, impinged on Soviet relations with China and nonaligned third world nations, caused domestic social unrest, and diverted energies from pressing economic problems. What the report did not say, but the Soviets felt, was that tens of thousands of Soviet youths were dying on killing fields in a foreign land, fighting for a cause they didn't believe in, detested by the local populace they allegedly fought for, bleeding the crippled economy of their own country dry."
Read the above paragraph carefully. With just a few word changes, the same could have been written about the U.S. and Vietnam, the U.S. and Iraq, and the U.S. and Afghanistan.
When George H. W. Bush took over as president in January of 1989, the Soviet military, suffering multiple wounds, was in process of withdrawing from Afghanistan, finally recognizing that their "war" was unwinnable.
The CIA director, then William Webster and others were ecstatic. They had won, they thought.
Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. Because no one had stopped to ask long-range questions early on, U.S. strategists were now confronted with new problems. The "pipeline" through which the CIA had pumped weapons had also become become a drug pipeline. It had developed into one of the main routes for shipping heroin to Karachi and then on to the United States and Europe.
More importantly, and for some unfathomable reason, the U.S. continued to send billions of dollars and much high-tech weaponry to the rebels who at the time were constructing a huge Islamist army.
The result was a catastrophe! As one senior investigator said, "We set up the very system [of Islamist terrorism] we are now trying to dismantle. People forget that we invented this shit, that Bill Casey was getting the Saudi fundamentalists to assemble all these kooks and go out and kill Russians. No one asked what would happen when it was over." [My emphasis]
Here, of course, is another parallel to our the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by George W. Bush and the neocons and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It would appear that no one considered the long-range implications or the consequences of our actions.
McCain and others argued our invasion of Iraq would be short and sweet, we would be welcomed with open arms, and the cost would be minimal. He and the others were wrong on all counts.
[A side note: Unger writes that the CIA claimed to know nothing about the heroin. However, the Financial Times noted contrarily, that, not only did the CIA know about the heroin, "it actually started a special cell that 'promoted the cultivation of opium and the extraction of heroin in Pakistani terrority as well as in the Afghan territory under Mujahadeen control for being smuggled into the Soviet-controlled areas in order to make the Soviet troops heroin addicts.'"]
The situation became even more complicated and more bizarre. As early as 1983, word was out that the mujahideen had received so many weapons from the U.S. they were selling them to third parties.
But, again for unknown reasons, that did not stop the Reagan administration. "Washington actually responded by sending more and more sophisticated weapons. By 1986, The Reagan administration was supplying hundreds of the sought-after Stinger missiles to the mujahideen.
It was a national security disaster in the making.
By February 1989, the Soviet forces had departed Afghanistan. The government in Kabul, however, continued to be under Soviet control. Thus, President George H. W. Bush authorized further military aid to the rebels.
He did that in spite of the fact he had been warned specifically by Pakistan's president, Benazir Bhutto that "The extremists so emboldened by the United States during the eighties are now exporting their terrorism to other parts of the world to the extent that they use heroin trafficking to pay for their exploits."
Bhutto told Bush that things were out of control. Because the U.S. sided with the most extreme mujahideen groups, she said, "You are creating a veritable Frankenstein."
Unger believes that "Brzezinski and the Reagan-Bush administration were right about the extraordinary value of supporting the mujahideen. [I disagree] But they had resolved the past by endangering the future. They vastly underestimated the price America would pay in the long run. Thanks to the United States, Osama bin Laden had learned an important lesson: mujahideen warriors fighting for Islam could bring a superpower to its knees."
Thanks also to the United States, the terrorists who fought the Soviets with American help, had constructed a huge infrastructure they would soon use to export terrorism around the world. MAK became al-Qaeda -- the Base. Osama bin Laden became a hero. "Money poured into his operations from the mosques, the House of Saud itself, Saudi intelligence, the Saudi Red Crescent, the World Muslim League, various princes, and the kingdom's merchant elite."
On September 11, 2001, this terrorist organization, created in large part out of American resources provided to them by the Reagan and Bush administrations, as well as Saudi Arabia, sent out its warriors in a vicious attack on U.S. soil. The chickens had come home to roost.
The mainstream media said almost nothing about how al-Qaeda was able to mount such an intricate and devastating operation. George W. Bush, beholden to the House of Saud for bailing him out financially when his Texas oil operations failed, rushed to fly (secretly) all the Saudis currently living in or visiting the United States back to Saudi Arabia. Payback?
But it doesn't end there. Learning nothing from history and caring less, the second Bush administration invaded Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and install a "democratic" government. That invasion, like the invasion of Iraq, has failed miserably. Part of the reason is due to the fact that Bush and company diverted the majority of our military and financial resources to settle a personal score with Saddam Hussein, a man the U.S. had previously supported with money and weapons (including WMD) in an earlier brawl with Iran. [We also secretly sent materiel and weapons to Iran at the same time!]
Today, after five long, miserable years, we remain bogged down in Iraq at a monstrous cost in terms of human lives and American resources!
Things are not much better in Afghanistan. In fact, at the moment, the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is crumbling. The Associated Press reported today that "The situation in Afghanistan now is the worst since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001 and the country is in danger of a 'downward spiral' into violence and chaos, according to an intelligence report draft."
The senior British commander in Afghanistan says the war there is "unwinnable."
American commanders have been calling for more troops for several months. One of these U.S. commanders bemoans the fact "We're not making progress."
The U.S. military reports that "Afghanistan has become far more dangerous for American troops than Iraq. More than twice as many Americans have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq since May, even though there are more than five times the number of U.S. troops in Iraq."
The Bush administration intends to send additional troops to Afghanistan. At the present time, the U.S. has 31,000 troops there and the coalition forces an equal number.
The heroin trade is flourishing, providing $100 million per year for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Karzai government is losing what little support it had from the people for it cannot provide for the needs of the people, nor can it protect the people.
The United States, unfortunately, has killed a number of innocent civilians due to errant bombing by the U.S. Air Force. For example, on August 22, American airstrikes on a village in the western part of Afghanistan killed more than 30 civilians, a group that included women and children. Such "collateral damage," of course, creates great hatred for the U.S., already considered by many in Afghanistan as the "great Satan." Will Bunch, writing at philly.com says rightly that "every needless death creates more hatred toward America and our allies, and drives new converts to anti-U.S. terrorism."
What goes around comes around has become a commonplace saying and is now something of a cliche, but it still remains true, often enough.
In Afghanistan, we are fighting the very terrorists we formerly supported with millions of dollars and just as many weapons. The creature has turned on its creator. In fact, while al-Qaeda may have evolved to its present status in any event, the Reagan and Bush administrations must take most of the credit for providing the resources to allow it to grow to maturity.
The so-called "democratic" government in Afghanistan is not democratic, is dysfunctional, is corrupt through and through and incapable of governing competently. This dismal appraisal has not, however, stopped the United States from supporting that government monetarily and militarily and in many other ways.
At this moment, once again, our "leaders" are engaged in seeking ways to "shore up Afghan President Hamid Karzai's struggling government."
It won't work.
History has shown that wars in Afghanistan cannot be "won." For various reasons. Conventional forces rarely, if ever, defeat guerrillas. The terrain is hostile. The U.S. relies on air strikes. Wars are won on the ground.
While U.S. support of the rebels in their fight against the Soviets was a factor in the latter's eventual defeat, that defeat was assured from the moment the first Soviet boot stepped on Afghan soil. We merely forced an earlier timetable for the inevitable.
It didn't matter how many troops the Soviets sent to Afghanistan. The more the Soviets sent, the more Soviet troops died.
The United States cannot "win" the war in Afghanistan. The Bushites can send shiploads of boots on the ground and it will not affect the outcome. It may delay the outcome, but eventually we'll come crawling back home, carrying out our dead and wounded, our remaining resources depleted, our reputation destroyed with hatred for America increasing around the world, our future jeopardized.
[Do you suppose the Russians have turned the tables on us and are now secretly aiding al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan? That would be sweet revenge - for them.]
Both Obama and McCain have called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. They are both wrong. More troops is not the answer.
I don't have the answer. Maybe there isn't one. Americans always want to resolve a situation; want to get it over and done with. Hopefully in 30 minutes or an hour.
But while there may be no answer, there may be a solution. The solution might not be to our liking. That may not matter.
The next president will need to think "outside of the box." All those affected by this war will need to become involved.
When he first ran for president in 2000, George W. Bush castigated and mocked Al Gore for "nation-building." That's not the responsibility of the United States, said Bush. We know now that George didn't mean a word of it. He moved immediately to invade and begin rebuilding Afghanistan in our image. Then, before that job was hardly started, he invaded Iraq, initially for revenge and to secure the oil fields, and then to build a new nation and install "democracy."
Years later, hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars later, with both countries suffering massive destruction and suffering, we find ourselves in such an untenable situation that people cannot even discuss our problems rationally much less come to a consensus as to what needs to be done to try to solve them.
George W. Bush is a phenomenal failure in every respect. His attempts at "nation-building" have nearly destroyed our nation.
Unfortunately, his ghost and the ghost of his father will hang around to haunt us for a long time.