Posted by: quiscus | June 25, 2011

June 25, 2011

The Lie Behind the Afghan War

In Official Washington, there’s one “fact” about the Afghan War that nearly everyone “knows”: In February 1989, after the Soviet army left Afghanistan, the United States walked away from the war-torn country, creating a vacuum that led to the rise of the Taliban and its readiness to host al-Qaeda’s anti-American terrorists.

It is a point made by senior administration officials, including incoming Ambassador Ryan Crocker and departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who once summed up the conventional wisdom by saying: “We will not repeat the mistakes of 1989, when we abandoned the country only to see it descend into civil war and into Taliban hands.”

And Gates was there at the time, as President George H.W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser. So, he should know.

The only problem with this “history” is that it isn’t true.

There was no immediate cutoff of funds for the Afghan mujahedeen in 1989. Indeed, hundreds of millions of dollars in covert CIA funding continued to flow to the rebels for several years as the U.S. government sought a clear-cut victory over the left-behind communist leader Najibullah, who was holed up in Kabul.

It may be understandable why neoconservatives would push such malarkey – and why Defense Secretary Gates and other government hardliners would be tempted to use the made-up chronology to convince gullible journalists about the need to stay the course – but their “history” is a fabrication (as Gates well knows).

The simple truth is that the last end game in Afghanistan was messed up not because the United States left too soon but because it stayed too long.”


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