“Blowback”: A metaphor for the unintended consequences of the US government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people.
Osama bin Laden
Every sentient being in the US has heard the infamous name, Osama bin Laden, notorious as mastermind of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Everyone has heard the oft repeated explanation for the attack from the lips of George W. Bush and Co.: The plane hijackers were evil terrorists simply bent on the destruction of America’s freedom, democracy and civilization. Everyone also knows that 15 of the 9-11 airline hijackers were Saudi Arabians, as is Osama bin Laden. Yet the US chose to fly the Saudi royal family to safety when all other American aviation was grounded. The US chose to throw its military might against Iraq, not Saudi Arabia. Why did this happen?
The notion that history began on September 11, 2001 was an appealing one. The truth behind the river of lies and half-truths that followed the 9-11 attack is much more complex. Immediately following the 9-11 attack the US invaded Afghanistan, allegedly for harboring 9-11 mastermind bin Laden. Then the US supposedly ousted the Taliban fighters hiding bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora. Victorious in Afghanistan, the US then turned its wrath against Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq, another alleged sponsor of bin Laden’s al Qaeda thugs. Well then, what was President Obama’s justification for taking the fight, yet again, to Afghanistan’s “al Qaeda” and the resurgent Taliban, as if al Qaeda and the Taliban were the same entity? This brief reading of available information on the Afghan imbroglio exposes decades of lies perpetrated on the American electorate by the White house and its clandestine services. The roots of the continuing Afghan military debacle and September 11 began in the Cold War, the post WWII struggle between Western and Russian Soviet imperialism. Here is a brief overview of events:
In 1973 Afghan Prince Muhammad Daoud oust(ed) the Afghan king with help from the Soviet Union, and establishe(d) a Soviet friendly Afghan republic.
USSR Invades Afghanistan
Prince Daoud was eventually assisted in this effort by the Soviets, who invaded the country in 1979. As a result, the US, with the participation of Iran’s secret police, SAVAK , and Pakistan military intelligence, ISI, began funneling weapons and resources to the Islamist resistance. The Islamist resistance was a collection of warlord factions, most ethnically Pashtun tribesmen, with strongholds in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and spreading through Peshawar province, Pakistan. From the same article:
After the pro-Soviet coup in April 1978, the Islamic militants (including ISI loyalist Gubbudin Hekmatyar) with the support of the ISI carr(ied) out a massive campaign of terrorism, assassinating hundreds of teachers and civil servants. [Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 260 - 263]
Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
In 1979, the CIA selected … Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as its primary operative within the Islamist resistance and for the next decade funneled half of all Afghan aid through his group. The fact that Hekmatyar was a brutal drug dealer known for skinning his victims alive was considered a plus for anti-Russian ruthlessness. By 1984 it is believed that CIA director William Casey enlisted Hekmatyar to carry the anti-Russian campaign into the southern Soviet republics, such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
At the same time, Osama bin Laden was developing a close working relationship with Saudi intelligence, the GID. The Saudis had ideological and strategic interests in supporting the Afghan Islamist resistance. Bin Laden began acting as intermediary between Saudi intelligence and the Islamist warlords. Hekmatyar and bin Laden developed a close working relationship. Contrary to the wishes of the Afghan fighters, William Casey decided to bring Arabs into the fight against the Soviets. Osama bin Laden became a primary recruiter for foreign, mostly Arab, jihadists. According to “A Legacy Of Ashes” (author Tim Weiner), “white robed Saudis” began to appear in war ravaged Afghanistan, declaring themselves emirs. “They were emissaries of a new force abroad in the world that came to be called al Qaeda.” in 1996, the Taliban, the anti-government islamist faction prevailed and took power in Kabul. Hakmatyar sought safe haven in Iran and was held there under virtual house arrest until early 2002 when he was returned to Afghanistan in retaliation for George Bush’s anti-Iranian “axis of Evil” speech.
Osama bin Laden remained active in the fight against foreign occupation in the middle east. He found(ed) the Al-Kifah Refugee Center, also known in Arabic as “services center” or “struggle”, along with several banks with a primary office in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Brooklyn office recruit(ed) Arab immigrants and Arab-Americans to go fight in Afghanistan, even after the Soviets withdraw in early 1989. As many as 200 are sent there from the office. Before they go, the office arranges training in the use of rifles, assault weapons, and handguns, and then helps them with visas, plane tickets, and contacts. They are generally sent to the MAK/Al-Kifah office in Peshawar, Pakistan, and then connected to either the radical Afghan faction led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf or the equally radical one led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. [New York Times, 4/11/1993]
Hekmatyar… returned after the U.S. invasion to wage jihad against the Americans, and in 2006 he publicly declared an alliance with Al Qaeda: “They hold the banner”, he said.
We couldn’t catch bin Laden, and apparently, we can’t “catch” Hekmatyar, who is inflicting a bloody toll on American and NATO (what’s left of them) forces in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The Islamists cry that they are doing to America what they did to the British and the Soviets before them. Hekmatyar has stated that he wants an end to foreign occupation, and a place at the negotiating table as the price for “peace”.
Officials in Washington express mixed reactions to the idea of negotiating with Hekmatyar. His fighters are thought to have led assaults that nearly overran two small American bases in Nuristan province last October, killing eight American soldiers and wounding 24. Many national-security professionals, especially in the intelligence field, say they’re disgusted to think of cutting deals with someone who has so much blood on his hands. On the other hand, as Gen. David Petraeus likes to say, you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. People at the Pentagon are speaking more cautiously, mostly echoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s recent assertion that it’s too soon to begin discussing peace in Afghanistan.
Evidently, General Stanley McCrystal’s plan for military conquest of the Taliban was a failure. it would require more blood and treasure than the US dares to commit in order to have any hope for success. The new Afghan operations commander, General Patraeus, favors negotiated settlements such as the one in Iraq. So perhaps the McCrystal insults printed in Rolling Stone magazine were meant to give Obama an “out” with new leadership, an honorable way to change course in Afghanistan before the 2012 election cycle.
Once we declare victory and limp away from Afghanistan, who will repay the American people for the blood and treasure expended in pursuit of the Afghan falsehood.