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by Peter Moskos

February 11, 2010

Historical Memory

National Public Radio just announced the death of some guy who was known for helping fund, "freedom fighters in Afghanistan fight the Soviet Union." And then, without any further talk, segued right into a story about the dangers of the Taliban's links to Al Qaeda.

Oh, the irony!

[For those who don't get it, those guys that Reagan called "freedom fighters" were the Taliban.]

Maybe we'd be safer if we could actually understand the language that some terrorists speak.

[Update: The guy is Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman.]

4 comments:

Larry said...

It might also help if people had a better understanding of political "doublespeak" (freedom fighters vs. terrorists).

Ben said...

It's interesting how Americans talk about our government's involvement in Afghanistan. Generally, the point is that we got involved in a situation that we didn't understand and the consequences were catastrophic. This of course is true and is important to remember.

However, U.S. funding was not the most important factor in the rise of the Taliban. Pakistan's secret police, the ISI, treat Afghanistan like our government treats Central America. They weren't our friends when they were telling us which tribal leaders deserved shrink-wrapped greenbacks and they weren't our friends when they were turning over token Arabs at the beginning of the war.

When an American talks about our short-sightedness in funding the mujahideen, it's still a pro-American narrative: we're so powerful that our actions cause terrible consequences! Way more terrible than France's! While that's an important lesson, it's equally important to remember that there are situations where we're not going to be number 1.

PCM said...

I'll eat some Freedom Fries to that!

qintuq said...

A lot of the people the Yanks were funding did NOT turn into Taliban. All of them turned on each other in the huge clusterfuck that was the Afghan Civil War, and some sided with and some sided against the Taliban when they emerged(or re-emerged). A lot of the Taliban. when they did their rush to power, were Afghan refugees in Pakistan who wanted to put a stop to the war, which was done by the guys the US founded...Although, yeah, the core of the Taliban/top leadership were former mujahadeen against the Soviets who got help from the US.

And in my opinion, the major difference between freedom fighter and terrorist is whether you TARGET civilians. While they were fighting the Russians, most of the mujahadeen attacks were against Russian troops (I haven't heard of a single guy blowing up market squares during the Sovier-Afghan War). Nowadays...well let's just say that, yes they do try to kill civilians. And succeed way too often.

Also, I think it makes sense to side with the lesser evil against the greater evil, and then, when that is defeated, to turn against it by siding with a still lesser evil, and so on (with Russians against Nazis,with Mujaheds against Russians, Now against taliban with some other guys who are hopefully less inclined to the Shar'ia)