History Repeats as U.S. Finds Unlikely Allies

History Repeats as U.S. Finds Unlikely Allies
Posted by FoM on October 21, 2001 at 09:39:23 PT
By Jeff Kunerth, Sentinel Staff Writer
Source: Orlando Sentinel
If politics makes strange bedfellows, foreign policy sometimes means sleeping with the devil. And that's what the United States did when it allied itself with Osama bin Laden and other Islamic militants in the 1980s.The United States helped build some of the terrorist facilities it is now destroying in Afghanistan. The Central Intelligence Agency trained Islamic militants on the use of explosives and the concept of "strategic sabotage" -- picking targets with a symbolic significance.
Altogether, the United States poured an estimated $3 billion in arms, training and financial support to mujahedeen guerrillas in efforts to drive the Soviet Union from Afghanistan.Thousands of those trained by the CIA and the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI were Islamic radicals recruited from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, China, the Philippines and the Chechnya republic in the Soviet Union."The Islamic fundamentalists would not be in power in Afghanistan if not for U.S. intervention," said William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II. "The CIA orchestrated the symphony. They brought in warriors from over a dozen Muslim countries who were trained and armed."Blum contends that the United States was so blinded by its obsession to bring down the Soviet Union that it ignored the anti-Western ideology of Islamic militants such as bin Laden.Alliance Has Links To Drugs Today, some of the same criticism is being leveled at the United States for its support of the Northern Alliance, which has a history of human-rights abuses and drug smuggling. In its full-throttle pursuit of terrorists, the United States once again finds itself allied with mujahedeen of ill repute -- just as it was 20 years ago in the Afghan-Soviet war.At the time, the Reagan administration saw its role in Afghanistan as an opportunity to bleed the Soviet Union's economy through a prolonged, costly war against the Afghan rebels. America's financial and military support of the mujahedeen was justified at the time as a cost-effective way to defeat the communists in the "last battlefield of the Cold War."Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah defended the strategy recently when he said, "It was worth it. Those were very important, pivotal matters that played an important role in the downfall of the Soviet Union."The United States' support included supplying the mujahedeen with an estimated 1,000 Stinger missiles -- the same mobile, highly accurate missiles the Taliban forces can use to target American tanks, helicopters and low-flying air-fueling tankers.Arming militant Islamic rebels was a calculated risk the United States took in the 1980s with unforeseen consequences in the 21st century, experts said."We clearly understood that once we teach people certain things, there might be some blowback -- not to the United States but to the nations from which these militants came," said Roger Handburg, an authority on terrorism and foreign policy at the University of Central Florida."Blowback" is a CIA term for an agent, or operation, that backfires on its creator. Critics of America's involvement in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation contend that the Taliban and bin Laden are the personification of blowback.Others, however, argue that nothing about bin Laden in the 1980s suggested his future occupation as an international terrorist."In no sense was the United States involved in blowback," said Harvey Kushner, author of Terrorism in America. "We did what we had to do to bring the Soviet Union to its knees."And that meant enlisting the help of warlords, drug lords and Islamic mercenaries such as bin Laden: "In the real world of international relations, this is what you have to do," Kushner said. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That's how we viewed the mujahedeen, and that's how we view the Northern Alliance now."The United States was aware of rogue agents among the Soviet opposition.Chief among them was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a known drug smuggler and good friend of bin Laden's with anti-American sentiments. In the 1970s, Hekmatyar made headlines for throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to wear veils.According to some reports, the vehicles and Tennessee mules supplied by the CIA to ship arms into Afghanistan were used by Hekmatyar and other drug lords to transport opium and heroin out of the country."You couldn't find anybody in Washington who thought we should trust this guy, but he was Pakistan's favorite," said Teresita Schaffer, director of South Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.Osama bin Laden, on the other hand, was an agent-in-good-standing from Saudi Arabia, one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East. A member of a prominent Saudi family, bin Laden counted Prince Turki ben Faisal al-Saud of the Saudi royal family as one of his strongest supporters.Wealthy and benevolent, bin Laden gave money to Afghan widows and orphans and built roads and hospitals for those fighting the Soviets. Those were good enough credentials for the U.S. government when it went looking for allies against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan.U.S. Helped Build Camps The CIA even helped bin Laden with the construction of facilities at Zhawar Kili al-Badr. Later identified as a "terrorist university," those facilities were bombed by the Clinton administration in 1998 in retaliation for the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.Bin Laden and his partner in terrorism, Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri, were indicted in New York for those bombings.Now, those same terrorist facilities in Afghanistan are again targets of the bombing raids ordered by President Bush.Although bin Laden's opposition to the United States dates back to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt orchestrated by President Carter in 1979, it wasn't until the Gulf War in 1991 that bin Laden turned to terrorism against the United States for stationing American troops in Saudi Arabia and imposing what he saw as a corrupt Western lifestyle on Islam."At the time the Afghan-Soviet war was going on, he was not saying anything that gave any indication he was going to be the person he is today," said Saiful-Islam Abdul-Ahad, an authority on Afghanistan at the University of Central Florida.If the United States didn't see the change in bin Laden, it also failed to recognize the agendas of the militant Islamics in the mujahedeen and their Pakistani sponsors."The United States had its interests and its perspective with very little awareness of how it might be used by the radical Islamics," said Robert L. Canfield, professor of sociocultural anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. "We didn't realize we were creating a cohort of zealous young men from all over the world."Pakistan at the time was ruled by strongman Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who envisioned his nation becoming the key player in the Middle East by helping create fundamentalist Islamic regimes in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Turkey. Before his death in a plane crash in 1988, Zia hoped to accomplish that goal by attracting and training Muslim extremists who would then return to their homelands as Islamic rebels.Today, Muslim terrorists who trained in Afghanistan are operating in the Philippines, China, Chechnya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries. President Bush said that cells of bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist organization now exist in 68 nations -- including the United States.Among those who learned the terrorism trade in Afghanistan are the Abu Sayyaf extremists who have kidnapped Sanford-based New Tribes missionaries in the Philippines. Three of the kidnapped missionaries are presumed dead while two others are still being held hostage.Selig Harrison, a terrorism expert at The Century Foundation in Washington, D.C., contends that the CIA made a historic mistake by supporting the Islamic extremists recruited to fight the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan."I warned them that we were creating a monster," Harrison said at a conference on terrorism in March.Alliances Change QuicklyBut in the Middle East, where alliances shift as quickly as the desert dunes, it's often hard to tell the good guys from the bad, the heroes from the villains.In the topsy-turvy world of Middle Eastern politics, friends and enemies are often one and the same.During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, bin Laden was allied with Ahmed Shah Massood, a leader of the Northern Alliance that is now battling the Taliban for control of Afghanistan.On Sept. 9, two days before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, suicide bombers posing as Arab journalists killed Massood. The CIA thinks bin Laden's organization was behind the assassination.In its western provinces, China is fighting Islamic rebels it helped arm and train to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.Russia itself is now providing arms to the Northern Alliance -- the same mujahedeen warriors who helped drive them from Afghanistan.And the United States, in its global effort to root out terrorism, has enlisted the support of Sudan -- a former home base for bin Laden and one of seven nations on the State Department's state-sponsored terrorism list.Once again, the United States finds itself involved in Afghanistan with an unholy alliance of friends and foes."We were happy to have anyone who was against the Soviets, just as we are happy to have anyone who helps us fight Osama bin Laden," said Louise K. Davidson-Schmich, a foreign-policy expert at the University of Miami.If the U.S. forces oust the Taliban, Davidson-Schmich said, its leaders must ask: "Who do we want in there?"We can't delude ourselves that the Northern Alliance will be a nice, pro-West democratic regime."Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)Author: Jeff Kunerth, Sentinel Staff WriterPublished: October 21, 2001Copyright: 2001 Orlando SentinelContact: insight orlandosentinel.comWebsite: Articles:War and Drugs - Another Powder Trail Expected to Target Afghanistan's Opium
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Comment #11 posted by qqqq on October 24, 2001 at 03:20:36 PT
More off topic soapbox ramblings about the media,,
,,and the role it is playing in this absolutely unbelievable "war on terror".....Have you noticed?,,The news has been dominated by anthrax headlines,,and it almost seems like the dark military happenings in Afghanistan,have become second page items.It's the old "diversion thru the media" tactic.They have made it appear,as if the anthrax thing is the only concern,and when it comes time to talk about the covert military operations,it becomes strangely clear,that the ONLY "news",that will be coming from the corporate media,is the information that is "designed",and selected by the powers that be.  
A few days ago,they released these silly,sort of "night vision" clips,of ground troop getting on a plane,and parachuting,,as if it was some sort of "inside look" at what's going on,,and of course,a few of those grainy images of smart bombs,zeroing in on their targets.....All this gives the public a dose of the subliminal drugging,of making it appear that "news",is being covered...As if it is being done out in the open,,,,open to criticism....The government has gone far beyond simply filtering,or censoring the news,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,THEY ARE CREATING THE NEWS!!!!
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Comment #10 posted by Sudaca on October 22, 2001 at 09:00:31 PT
beware polarization
the communits/capitalist dialectic is dead; dead ; dead. Hitler is dead! We're on the twenty first centuryt. Communication is cheap, efficient, global. We know better now. We can all dredge up memories of the "good wars" just because our human history has been a seemingly continuos stream of violence between peoples, and winners emerged to write down the version for posterity. We don't have to resort to simplistic black and white explanations of the world . We have time and the means to listen, understand and learn from what is going on around us. There's no recovering the spilled blood regardless of reason or cause; but we can and should prevent more of it. If we let ourselves buy into the "you're with us or against us" mentality we will quickly continue to spiral down the path of world war. Anyone who'se performed jury duty in the US knows that most of the times motivations , causes , circumstances don't yield easy answers. Similarly, when there are cases of obviuos icompatibility with society, where the crime in question is unquestionable , there is no disagreement on the need for swift and effective punishment. What we have now in the works is a case of United States taking the law in its hands; when the crime is against all humanity. By doing this and shoving aside the requests for a common consideration and solution, for the ground rules of civilized international convivence , the US is unwittlingly helping the Usama Bin Ladens (for a moment lets stay with this guy) of the world, and their effort to submerge our world community into madness. 
We're in a new world, where the agony of people with a building falling on their heads is felt by all regardlesss of it being in New York City or Kabul. Stop apologizing for violence in light of what was successfully done to people 60 years ago in a much different world.
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Comment #9 posted by mayan on October 22, 2001 at 04:56:25 PT
Who Needs Enemies?
In ten years we'll be bombing the Northern Alliance for blowing up the oil & natural gas pipelines that we are going to lay through Afghanistan after we wipe out the Taliban.It's the oil, stupid!
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Comment #8 posted by Lehder on October 22, 2001 at 03:25:51 PT
So what would have been a tolerant, nonviolent answer to Hitler?You come very close to calling me "soft on Hitler." No one could have recommended a nonviolent approach to Hitler, and a bombing of railways leading to Auschwitz in 1942 would have been a good complement to the other bombing.I wrote about the causes of WW II a few weeks ago, about how the hateful Treaty of Versailles was an instant, economically violent and intolerant conclusion to WW I. So a far better approach could have begun there. Later on,
beginning maybe in 1923 with Hitler's initial rise to fame, and certainly no later than 1933 with his achievement of dictatorial powers, perhaps widespread smoking of marijuana by the German people would have helped provoke some deeper reflection on their course of action and helped cut through the ugly bullshit of Hitler's hateful oratory. By 1939, of course, it was too late for anything but some form of widescale violence, though many improvements - was the firebombing of Dresden that killed 100,000 necessary? - in retrospect, would have been possible even then.
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Comment #7 posted by dddd on October 21, 2001 at 20:46:17 PT
RED white and blue
....Remember,,,a while back when China shot down our spy plane...stripped it,,held the crewman for a few weeks?....Remember when human rights in China was an issue ?,,,,, I dont know if anyone followed the shrubs recent visit to the red giant,but if you read the transcripts of the shrub speeches in China,it would seem that we have decided to forgive and forget all past differences.....Yup,,our Chinese buddies really like the idea of this "War on Terror" fact,they told the shrub that they will support the war on terror.It's perfect for them,,after all,aren't all political dissidents "terrorists"?.......
..I would seem,that all of a sudden,our governments have alot in common.After all,there's not much that the Chinese could do now,,,militarily,or human rights,that could not be exempt from criticism,as long as it is wears the "war on terror"label.Anyone who opposes the government,is a terrorist.The war on terror is the best thing ever for the Chinese regime.It would be rather silly for us to critisize the Chinese for abuse of human rights,,,,what could we say if China decided to invade North Korea,under the "war on terror"flag?.Anything goes in the war on terror.Since terror is not a person,or a country,but rather a nebulous concept,the boundaries are unlimited.The war on drugs got everyone used to the idea of a war on a thing,or an idea,and now,the war on terror, will continue to mutate into a war on wrong thoughts,and ways of thinking.......This is the biggie of world history.This "war on terror" is the beginning of the end,and there aint a hell of alot anyone can do about it,lest they be labelled a terrorists,or labelled as one who encourages terrorism........If there is anyone out there,,who is not yet alarmed by all this,,,,then all I can say is WAKE F*CKING UP!....Cock-a-f*cking-doodle-doo!!!!!......gong...gong...gong...gong.......dddd
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Comment #6 posted by jah rastafari on October 21, 2001 at 15:38:55 PT:
wisdom is better than silver and gold
iwe use blood to cleanse blood then we are following the ways of babylon and not Gods we mut never have war as any kind of resort we must be togetherand be with God the Almighty!
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 21, 2001 at 14:47:06 PT
End of the Rainbow Farm Protest 
To: Media, Government Officials, and Interested Parties 
This petition is a protest of combined FBI, sheriff, and police actions, and the drug and gun control laws that inspired them, at the Rainbow Farm Campground in Vandalia, Michigan on September 3 and 4, 2001. That government assault resulted in the deaths of Grover 'Tom' Crosslin and Rolland Rohm. Please Sign The Petition stated in the Detroit Free Press on September 5, 2001, family friend Richard Lake explained, "You can push people until they break. I think they were pushed until they broke. That's not the people I knew."
Tom Crosslin & Rolland Rohm Memorial 
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on October 21, 2001 at 14:28:49 PT
But here's the irony Lehder
Would that Americans could find the wisdom to elect leaders who also found such excitement in reading and exploring, leaders who did not have instant, violent and intolerant answers to every problem we encounter.So what would have been a tolerant, nonviolent answer to Hitler?If Dyson had his boyish dreams come true and the Nazis had vanquished the British Empire and all of their other foes, I don't think he would have been able to write his provocative and intriguing piece in RMP.The Nazis considered relativity to be "Jewish physics" because of Einstein, and if Dyson's boyish dreams had been fulfilled, a large fraction of the developers of this field would have been exterminated and their subject would have been banned from reich-controlled universities.Ironic, isn't it?History is just a giant irony mine.Everywhere we dig, there is a lump of irony.
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on October 21, 2001 at 13:06:12 PT
The right won because the left waffled on USSR
The story of Afghanistan is like the story of Hungary and the story of Czechoslovakia with one exception -- Arabs had not signed any pact at Yalta that said they would abandon Afghans to Soviet aggression, and so they organized a force to fight back.What the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan was overthrow a liberal Communist government. That's the same thing they did in Hungary with Nagy whom they murdered and the same thing they did in Czechoslovakia with Dubcek whom they arrested. Daoud, who was murdered by the KGB in 1978, was a Communist. But he was a liberal one and that was intolerable to the Soviet Communists.And the reason why the American right wing came to be in possession of the moral agenda for responding to yet another act of Communist aggression AGAINST A SOCIALIST COUNTRY is because the American left never expressed signfificant outrage over Daoud, just like they failed to win the moral high ground in responding to the murder of Nagy and the arrest of Dubcek. because the most important political position in the America left was to be against right wing anti-Communism. So left wing anti-Communism never took hold like events dictated that it should have.But none of this mattered to the mujahedeen or their Arab supprters, who spent over twqice the amoutn spent by the CIA. According to the federation of American Scientists, the CIA was no competition for the operation run by Bin Laden in Peshawar. America was the second banana there, despite our national mythology that wherever America goes, America is in charge.After 500 years of Russian and then Soviet borders spreading southward to encompass Islamic people -- Arabs understood what they were dealing with, and they never needed any help from the CIA to put their agenda together or to form and operation and go forward.It's really bizarre to me that it ended up being the American right that was in control over the American response to the horrific sins committed by the Soviet Union against liberal Communists.The most dangerous idea to promote in the Soviet bloc was "socialism with a human face".That point never really registered on the American left, and it still doesn't register. And that's partly why we have these hugely ironic and unbelievably cockeyed aspects of our history in the Cold War.When we look up close at the real victims of Soviet Communist aggression -- it looks as if the Soviet Union was actually a fascist power. Because the vast majority of their victims were on the left! But Lenin did say, "Leftism is the childhood disease of Marxism-Leninism and must be eradicated by any means necessary."He meant it -- and the Soviet Union fulfilled his words in actions.This important point has been mostly lost on the American left, unfortunately, as they even today continue to aoplogize for and appease the Soviet Union, even after it no longer exists.
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Comment #2 posted by Lehder on October 21, 2001 at 10:22:20 PT
freedom to think and speak
Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson has been one of my favorite free thinkers, writers and physicists for more than thirty years. He never fails to inform, provoke and entertain. By age seven or eight he had mastered both Latin and classical Greek ( he was tutored at home and did not attend public school ) and at age fourteen spent eighteen hours per day for a period meticulously working every example in a book of differential equations. In the late forties he worked with Richard Feynman completing the theory of quantum electrodynamics. Here is an example of his audacious and original style excerpted from his comments on the 9/11 plane attacks:The events of September 11 brought to mind another vivid and uncomfortable memory. I am sixteen years old, lying in bed at my home in London on a noisy night in September 1940. I am violently hostile to the British Empire and everything it stands for. I hate London, the citadel of oppression, with its grandiose buildings sucking the wealth from every corner of the world. I lie in bed listening to the bombs exploding and the buildings crumbling. What joy to hear, after each explosion, the delicious sound of buildings falling down, the great British Empire audibly crumbling. The joy far outweighs any fear that my own home might be hit, or any pity for the people in the falling buildings. How many sixteen-year-olds all over the world are now seeing on television the pictures of the World Trade Center buildings collapsing, and feeling the same joy that I felt in 1940. I find it easy to imagine the state of mind of the young men who so resolutely smashed those planes into the buildings. Almost, I could have been one of them myself.I know what many people are "thinking" here. But neither Freeman nor any other true thinkers are impressed by SWAT squads. People who value their intellectual freedom more than anything else must be met on their own ground. Here's the rest of his typically well considered and worthy comment: is a diversity of other opinion on the plane attacks, resources which our government ignores and often holds in contempt: 1979 Dyson published an article in Reviews of Modern Physics in which he used the principles of cosmology and thermodynamics to demonstrate that sentient beings will be able to continue thinking into the - literally - infinite future, long beyond the time when every star has extinguished and been reduced to a black hole or neutron star. In the infinite future when the universe offers no source of either heat or light, beings like Freeman Dyson will still be considering points of view, exploring possibilities and generating excitement about their futures. that Americans could find the wisdom to elect leaders who also found such excitement in reading and exploring, leaders who did not have instant, violent and intolerant answers to every problem we encounter.
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Comment #1 posted by Cannabis Dave on October 21, 2001 at 10:15:22 PT
Our foreign policy "experts" are wrong once a
In the last sentences above the "expert" postulates: "who do WE want in there". I have to ask: who are WE to decide who runs other countries anyway?". The Gulf War eventually led to the 09/11/01 disaster. America became hated after we sent troops over there. Our governments greed for the Arab oil is behind it all. Instead of putting energy into conservation and environmentally friendly power sources, our government gets us into wars over oil in other countries. The 09/11 attack never would have happened if we had used better sense in that past. Instead of learning from that mistake, they are making a bigger mistake by sending in the troops. They are doing exactly what the terrorists wanted them to do. The terrorists aren't Nazi Germany or the Soveit Union - they aren't going to take over the world or invade us. Our leaders should use better sense in the future, rather than going to war. War is NOT the answer. Going to war will just make terrorism worse, so we can thank our leaders when there are more terrorist attacks in the future. There is no way to stop terrorism other than ending the conditions which breed it, but that is something they don't seem to grasp yet.
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