The New York Times, in its struggling effort to stay non-trivial, posts an editorial today on Zbigniew Brzezinski, the latter commenting on what the Obama administration should do about Afghanistan.
For those of you who do not recognize the nameand there are more of you each dayZbig Brzezinski was President Carters NSA advisor, whoat the risk of this sounding like an ad hominem argumentscrewed Taiwan in favor of Communist China, let the Soviets grow in power, gave up the Panama Canal, sponsored al-Qāʿidahs earliest incarnations, lost Iran, and watched the Soviets roll into Afghanistan. Much of the costly, bloody mess that historians agree was so symbolic of Carters foreign policy came from this man, who recently advocated shooting down Israeli planes if they indeed try to straighten out the Iranian nuclear situation. Let us hope President Obama is the fifth continuous president who totally ignores this guys opinions.
The Times titles their piece A Voice Worth Heeding on Afghanistan, to which the Czar replies, Why, exactly?
Brzezinski proved incapable of understanding the politics of the region, from his bumbling catastrophes with Iran to his inability to do anything about Afghanistan except convince Carter to pull the plug on Americas participation in the Moscow Olympics.
And while that was a long time ago, we see that Mr. Brzezinskis attitudes have not changed. He says, from the editorial, But suppose the counterinsurgency becomes a bigger insurgency….This is why I’ve been saying let’s not do what the Russians did….We’ve had some sort of a notion that we build a modern society, democracy, with the help of Western-type Afghans.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Brzezinski labors under some peculiar fantasy that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to turn it into an independent country? Does Brzezinski even know why the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 while his administration sat on its hands?
Because the Soviets were not as stupid as the Carter administration. The Soviets were possibly the first country to realize that Iran, 1979, was not a weird goofy graduation stunt pulled off by students and a guy with a beard: they recognized that Islamofascism had a real base of operations now and would be a foreign policy nightmare for decades with dire consequences. And if Iran fell that quickly, with its modern attitudes and developed infrastructures, Afghanistan would fall in seconds. And yes: the Soviets knew the incredible mess that would occur for them if Afghanistan went the way of Iran.
And so the Soviet Union did the only thing they knew how to do: they rolled tanks into Kabul. On the plus side, that scared the crap out of Pakistan, which may indeed have been what the Soviets really wanted. By putting up another buffer state between Mother Russia and crazy people, the Pakistanis would seek American help, and that could possibly forestall the same revolution happening in Pakistan which might have been worse for everybody.
The Soviets called it right, to their own regret. They reasoned that if Afghanistan fell unopposed, Pakistan would certainly fall… and then the nightmare would begin: Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, and heckthe whole southern edge of the Soviet Union would fall away toward taliban-like idiocy. Maybe not so much the latter, we now understand, but they had to do something.
The Czar does not support the Soviet response, however: the brutal onslaught that ensued was horrible and morally nauseating. But the Soviets, wrong as their response was, knew they could not sit around and wait for the bitter end.
The eventual American response was to speed fueling money and weapons to Pakistan, who in turn kept the money but sent the weapons on to Afghani freedom fightersand at risk of armchair quarterbacking, we now know that this planted the seeds of al-Qāʿidah. In short, our response took too long and accomplished some things that only wound up costing us dearly later.
But that was not all we did. During the Carter adminstration, the classic response was to condemn with speeches, put the thoroughly nasty ISI in charge in Pakistan, punish the Soviets by cutting grain shipments to them, and be a piss-pill to their little Olympic party. Brzezinski sure showed them.
The correct response that totally eluded Mr. Brzezinski on Afghanistan is, and was at the time, blindingly simple: fix the mess you created in Iran while there was time and momentum. Instead, we chose to do nothing except crash helicopters in the Iranian desert. And the more you know about that story, the more you realize how badly screwed up the Carter administration was with military affairs. It was just a hair-width away from the President asking his limo drivers to pilot the helicopters themselves.
Let us review the history of Afghanistan from Mr. Brzezinski forward. in 1977, the Khan adminstration was a pro-Soviet Marxist puppet that damaged American strength in a critical corner of the world. That was bad. Then, starting in April 1978, a series of executions and assassinations resulted in chaos for a long time. Eventually, a seemingly pro-American government emerged that offered to modernize the country. The Carter adminsitration was handed a golden opportunity to shore up American interests.
Brzezinskis counsel then? Nation building, which he evidently thinks today is a disastrous idea. But back then, his idea of nation building was to send money and support to the terrorists. The Carter administration sought to build up the Islamic revolutionaries love of America, no doubt to show the Islamic world that we could be friendly to bad people and they would in turn love us back.
It failed. The bad guys overthrew the pro-American leaders in Afghanistan, and the Soviets rolled in months later as the situation worsened. Ironically, Brzezinski always admitted that a Soviet invasion might be a risk, but that may have been the only intelligence report he listened to. Somehow, it still came as a total surprise when Soviet armored columns managed to roll into Kabul, some 400 miles away from Dushanbe, without being detected.
So now the Soviets were in charge, more or less, which of course was disastrous for both sides.
After the Soviets left, the Taliban took charge of some areas where local warlords took over the rest. This was an international tragedy (best laid at the feet of the Clinton administration).
In November, 2001, the United States retaliated. Times were tough, but the quality of life returned for Afghanis, showing the first glimmer of hope they had since a brief respite in 1978. Life is hard for the Afghani today and the difficulties seem even alien to an American, but they have schools, hospitals, and government. Kids will not be hanged for learning; women will not be stoned for talking, and men will not be shot for listening to music. They even have Americans there, who are killing the people the average Afghani hates.
So where, exactly, is the failure? Does Mr. Brzezinski believe that the average Afghani welcomes a return of the Taliban? Or the Soviets? Or the Marxists before them? Or is he loathe to admit that the Americans have given Afghanistan the closest thing they have ever had to a real country?
Or is he afraid that that history will look at his own administration and say You know who really screwed things up badly over there?
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.