Afghanistan: The Graveyard of Empires

Afghanistan: The Graveyard of Empires

Great advances in knowledge are usually the result of someone being enough of a heretic to discard old worn out conventions and precedents and to see things in a new light unencumbered by outdated thinking.   Largely, this is really about truth-seeking.   This is particularly applicable to the current crisis this nation faces.  Ostensibly, the crisis takes the form of an economic one, but that’s really only the manifestation of a much deeper crisis.  The deeper crisis is really one of basic morality and the refusal to acknowledge that past actions often create current consequences.   As long as we as a nation fail to acknowledge certain truths, we’ll continue to create false policy while never addressing underlying causes.    

In the next few days, President Obama will announce his decision regarding the expansion of the Afghan war.  Preliminary reports  are that he’ll seek a troop escalation of about 30,000 -40,000 troops  in a bid to subdue that nation.  His budget director has said that it will cost about $ 1.0 million for each additional soldier deployed;  an outrageous sum of money.  These costs only cover the initial deployment.  It’s projected that we’ll need to have troops there for at least ten years to get the situation under control, so the costs will be ultimately much higher.

Of course, wars always cost money and past practice has been to make the cost as painless as possible by simply borrowing  and creating enough inflation on the back-end to make paying the debt painless and to avoid  tax increases.    As long as the painful consequence of war is not felt by the majority of the people, conventional thinking says that they tend to see it as something far removed and having little effect on their daily lives.  

Of course, our main financier (China) is complaining about the fact that our fiscal house is in disarray and they’re concerned about the return of the money they’ve lent us.  They’re also concerned about the Federal Reserve’s money printing which would potentially make their debt holdings worth far less, so they’d like to see  more responsible handling of our nation’s fiscal and monetary matters.   Certain members of congress are now concerned about the cost of escalating the war and want to make sure that it’s paid for.  They’ve proposed a surtax to actually fund the war which will cause us all to assess if this is really worth the money and loss of life.   Beyond that, if China is effectively our banker, then the question becomes this: how sustainable is any situation that is reliant on another nation actually funding it?   Since we lack the domestic savings necessary to fund this war ourselves, our banker effectively has veto power over our ability to wage it.   Even in the best of economic conditions, it would be foolhardy to spend $ 1.0 million per soldier to fight a war of questionable purpose, but in light of our economic situation it is could be a disaster.

But even more than that, we have the failure of the Soviet Union to subdue Afghanistan. It’s commonly acknowledged that the Soviet Union’s war with Afghanistan was  the main thing that pushed it into economic  and political collapse.  Perhaps what is not as widely known is that our country provoked them into going to war in Afghanistan so we could give them their very own Vietnam and end the Cold War.  In other words we set a trap for them and supported a proxy war against them using the Taliban and folks like Osama bin Laden.   Here’s an excerpt from an interview of  Jimmie Carter’s National Security Advisor,  Zbigniew Brzezinski, given to a french magazine in 1998 regarding this:

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski about how the US provoked the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess

Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

Question: 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 six 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, closely 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.

Question: 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.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against 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, in substance: 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.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalists, 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?

Stirred up Moslems?  Brzezinski’s last response speaks volumes about his worldview.  It’s as if he’s saying that it’s okay to  use “stirred up Moslems” as pawns to carry out a larger strategy.  They really don’t matter because they can easily be dealt with later.  Basically, our meddling to trap the Soviets created the same folks that we want to go to war against now–the Taliban. 

Undoubtedly, the Soviets are now aware of how they got played– not to mention our creation of  legions of “stirred up Moslems”.   In addition to them, there are a number of other nations who don’t share our view of ourselves being a “force for good” in the world.   They view us as a hegemon and they wouldn’t mind the world’s sole superpower getting its comeuppance.     Notwithstanding our economic problems, we still wield considerable economic and military power, so no one is confront us head on, however, they might bait a trap.

History matters and the fact that it’s not acknowledged or allowed to alter the course of policies, doesn’t change it.   We really need to be doing the exact opposite of what Obama is proposing and exiting Afghanistan.

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  • http://lovebug35.wordpress.com lovebug35

    hmm.. interesting..

  • Gregory

    Yes. That’s what I thought as well as I became aware of this. Unfortunately, variations of this sort of thing have become a theme in our foreign policy, but most of us are unaware of it so we are unable to put things in context.

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