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A Brief History of How the US Helped Cause the Current Afghan Crisis

Posted by ZP Heller on March 23rd, 2009

Click here for more information about the Afghanistan war.

For a short but sweet history lesson of exactly how the United States helped cause the current crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan, read Stephen Kinzer’s recent piece in The Boston Globe. Kinzer writes:

During the 1980s, the CIA waged its most expensive and largest-scale campaign ever, pouring a staggering $6 billion into its anti-Soviet guerrilla force. Saudi Arabia, at Washington’s request, contributed another $4 billion. Finally, in 1989, the insurgency succeeded and the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan in defeat. One million Afghans died in the decade-long war. Five million fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries. Many found food and shelter at religious schools sponsored by Saudi Arabia, where they were taught the radical Wahhabi brand of Islam. Those schools were the cradle of the Taliban.

In essence, the US backed Pakistan’s regime for a decade beginning in 1979 in order to build an anti-Soviet force in Afghanistan and fight a proxy war. Bent on winning the Cold War at all costs, the US made terrible concessions to Pakistan, including aid to Afghan warlords that was funneled through ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency. The ISI brought in tens of thousands of Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden, who were trained with US funds even though they were staunchly anti-American. Ten years later, the war that the CIA claimed as a victory over the Soviet empire actually empowered the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalists, a far more serious threat.

This historical perspective is precisely why the US must rethink its involvement in the current war, using congressional oversight hearings to allow experts like Kinzer to explain the crisis to the American public. Join over 35,000 people who have signed the petition for these much needed hearings.

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  1. Lolly says:

    I salute Greenwald's attempts at bring light and background to the Afganistan situation. We must avoid getting into another Iraq-like situation, trying to change the country through warfare. This is a difficult country to understand, but we must find a peaceful way to help them secure their lives and to provide the kind of aid that will truly make a difference. Bombngs that kill innocent civilians is not the way!

  2. Lolly says:

    I salute Greenwald's attempts at bring light and background to the Afganistan situation. We must avoid getting into another Iraq-like situation, trying to change the country through warfare. This is a difficult country to understand, but we must find a peaceful way to help them secure their lives and to provide the kind of aid that will truly make a difference. Bombngs that kill innocent civilians is not the way!

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