Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Peering into Afghanistan

I submitted this to the 4 Irving papers. Let's see what happens. Hey - it was published on Feb 14, 15 and 16 in the various papers.

Moore's Afghan history is faulty

Afghanistan is a complex country and we are involved in a complex war. Charles Moore’s partisan attacks (‘Layton’s Afghan history is faulty,’ 7 Feb.) do very little to clarify the situation. ** I was prompted to this reply because of a letter to the editor on 12 February. ** He attacks Jack Layton’s position with vitriol but little research.

Mr. Moore notes that the Afghan defeat of the Soviets (1979-1989) was assisted by significant funding from the United States. This is indeed very true.

However, he fails to mention that the CIA used Kissinger-like tactics when it called upon Afghanis to engage in jihad against Soviet invaders, and so began the mujaheddin or ‘warriors of the Lord.’ This is documented in a 27 March 1995 article by Robert Friedman in New York Magazine (‘The CIA’s jihad’). This article draws a direct connection between the CIA’s tactics during the Soviet invasion and the presence of between 100 to 125 potential Islamic terrorists operating in the New York area in 1995 according to the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Moore ignores the fact that during the Soviet invasion, the U.S. supplied Afghanistan with violence-laden textbooks including primers “filled with talk of jihad and featur[ing] drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines.” This story was reported in 23 March 2002 in The Washington Post (‘From U.S., the ABC's of Jihad; Violent Soviet-Era Textbooks Complicate Afghan Education Efforts’). Some of these texts were still in use in 2002 and may still be in use today.

I cite these articles so that people can look them up. Neither the New York Magazine (often mistakenly referred to as the New Yorker in web references) nor the Washington Post is tremendously left-wing or particularly peacenik. However both of these sources present carefully researched articles.

Afghanistan is a truly complex country with a complex history. Likewise, the rise of current radical Islam is a complex issue created, in part, by past U.S. policy.

Poverty, political strife, human rights abuses, tribal conflict, war, drug exports, and a history of past political interference have built the Afghanistan of today. If our decision to enter into a war in Afghanistan was built on flimsy research like that provided by Mr. Moore, then we should have never gone in the first place.

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