As the first journalists to enter Kabul in 1981 for CBS News following the expulsion of the Western media the previous year, we continue to be amazed at how the American disinformation campaign between Hollywood, Washington and Wall Street built around the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan lives on. We’ve seen this pattern from the media again and again. It was particularly disturbing to read Ken Herman’s December 18 interview, Charlie Wilson pessimistic about future of Afghanistan, in the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN filled with CIA disinformation. The secret campaign was activated before the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to sell the American people on financing the coming Muslim holy war against the Soviet Union
Let’s separate the child-like fantasy that has been resurrected over and over again from the true nature of Charlie Wilson and his war effort. From the interview:
“…the former East Texas congressman — immortalized in a book and a movie about his exploits that helped the Afghans drive out the Soviet Union.”
FACT: Covert funding for the mujahideen began long before the Soviet invasion, not after. This covert aid was intended to lure the Soviets into the Afghan trap and hold them there, not drive them out, as claimed by Charlie Wilson. Both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski – President Carter’s national security adviser, have admitted in print (Gates, in his 1997 book, From the Shadows; Brzezinski, 1998 interview in Le Nouvel Observateur, that the U.S. had been secretly undermining its own diplomatic efforts in order to give the Soviets their own Vietnam in Afghanistan.
The American press failed to report these revelations from high-ranking government officials as news, back then. More recently, Brzezinski’s remarks were addressed in an interview with Samira Goetschel for her film, Our Own Private Bin Laden. She asked:
“In your 1998 interview with the French Magazine Le Nouvel Observateur you said that you knowingly increased the probability of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.”
“The point very simply was this. We knew the Soviets were already conducting operations in Afghanistan. We knew there was opposition in Afghanistan to the progressive effort which had been made by the Soviets to take over. And we felt therefore it made a lot of sense to support those that were resisting. And we decided to do that. Of course this probably convinced the Soviets even more to do what they were planning to do…”
FACT: As we document in our book, “Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,” the record contradicts Brzezinski’s assumption that the Soviets would have invaded had it not been for his intentional provocation to lure the Soviet’s into the “Afghan trap.”
FACT: It is well documented that Charlie Wilson’s war prolonged Afghanistan’s agony for another six years, provided a secure multibillion-dollar technological training base for Islamic terrorism, and set the stage for a privatized heroin industry of historic proportions. It’s bad enough that a Hollywood film continues to project the propaganda campaign that kept Americans in the dark about America’s role in helping terrorism grow in Afghanistan. At this late date, it is unconscionable for any media to perpetuate the fantasy that Charlie Wilson or the Congress wanted the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
FACT: America’s mistake in Afghanistan was not “the endgame” problem depicted by “Charlie Wilson’s War.” The problem was in the conceptual framework created by America’s Cold War policy makers in the first place that made Afghanistan the bleeding ground it remains to this day.
FACT: Charlie Wilson’s War became the rallying cry for an arms buildup that would end public debate about American foreign policy on Afghanistan. The world was remade with the Soviet folly in Afghanistan, a Communist empire destroyed and the West’s pre-eminence assured. But the price in human suffering in Afghanistan and the impact on our democratic freedoms has yet to be understood.
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. They are featured in an award winning documentary by Samira Goetschel. Titled, Our own Private Bin Laden which traces the creation of the Osama bin Laden mythology in Afghanistan and how that mythology has been used to maintain the “war on terror” approach of the Bush administration. Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story published by City Lights, January 2009 chronicles their three-decade-focus on Afghanistan and the media.