On the frigid
night of Dec. 24, 1979, Soviet airborne forces seized Kabul airport.
Elite Alpha Group commandos sped to the presidential palace, burst
into the bedroom of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin and gunned him
down. Columns of Soviet armour crossed the border and raced south
It took Soviet
forces only a few days to occupy Afghanistan. They installed a puppet
ruler, Babrak Karmal. Moscow proclaimed it had invaded Afghanistan
to "liberate" it from
"feudalism and Islamic extremism" and "nests of terrorists
churned out films of Red Army soldiers playing with children, building
schools, dispensing medical care. Afghan women were to be liberated
from the veil and other backward Islamic customs. The Soviet Union
and its local communist allies would bring Afghanistan into the 20th
Two years later,
Afghans had risen against their Soviet "liberators" and
were waging a low-intensity guerrilla war. Unable to control the
countryside, Moscow poured more troops into Afghanistan. The Soviet-run
Afghan Army had poor morale and less fighting zeal. The KGB-run Afghan
secret police, KhAD, jailed and savagely tortured tens of thousands
of "Islamic terrorists," then called "freedom fighters" in
to December, 2002, and a disturbing sense of deja vu. A new foreign
army has easily occupied Afghanistan, overthrown the "feudal" Taliban
government and installed a puppet regime in Kabul. Western media
churn out the same rosy, agitprop stories the Soviets did about liberating
Afghanistan, freeing women, educating children. The only real difference
is that kids in today's TV clips are waving American instead of Soviet
flags. The invaders have changed; the propaganda remains the same.
of Afghanistan in October, 2001, was billed as an epic military victory
and the model of future imperial expeditions to pacify Third World
malefactors. Since then, news about this war-ravaged land has grown
scarce. America's limited attention has turned elsewhere.
In fact, America's
Afghan adventure has gotten off to as poor a start as that of the
Soviet Union. The U.S.-installed ruler of Kabul, veteran CIA asset
Hamid Karzai, must be protected from his own people by up to 200
U.S. bodyguards. Much of Afghanistan is in chaos, fought over by
feuding warlords and drug barons.
There are almost
daily attacks on U.S. occupation forces. My old mujahedin sources
say U.S. casualties and equipment losses in Afghanistan are far higher
than Washington is reporting - and are rising.
are operating from the old Soviet bases at Bagram and Shindand, retaliating,
like the Soviets, against mujahedin attacks on U.S. forces by heavily
bombing nearby villages. The CIA is trying to assassinate Afghan
nationalist leaders opposed to the Karzai regime in Kabul, in particular
my old acquaintance Gulbadin Hekmatyar.
North of the
Hindu Kush mountains, America's Afghan ally, the Tajik-Uzbek Northern
Alliance, has long been a proxy of the Russians. The chief of the
Russian general staff and head of intelligence directed the Alliance
in its final attack on the Taliban last fall. Russia then supplied
Alliance forces with $100 million in arms, and is providing $85 million
worth of helicopters, tanks, artillery and spare parts, as well as
military advisors and technicians. Russia now dominates much of northern
according to the United Nations drug agency, had almost shut down
opium-morphine-heroin production. America's ally, the Northern Alliance,
has revived the illicit trade. Since the U.S. overthrew the Taliban,
opium cultivation has soared from 185 tons a year to 2,700. The Northern
Alliance, which dominates the Kabul regime, finances its arms-buying
and field operations with drug money. President George Bush's war
on drugs collided with his war on terrorism - and lost. The U.S.
is now, in effect, colluding in the heroin trade.
Afghan forces - the Taliban, al-Qaida, and others - have regrouped
and are mounting ever larger attacks on U.S. troops and, reports
the UN, even reopening training camps. Taliban mujahedin are using
the same sophisticated early alert system they developed to monitor
Soviet forces in the 1980s to warn of American search-and-destroy
missions before they leave base. As a result, U.S. troops keep chasing
shadows. Canadians fared no better.
In the sole
major battle since the Taliban's overthrow, Operation Anaconda, U.S.
forces were bested by veteran Afghan mujahedin, losing two helicopters.
cost of Afghan operations is a closely guarded secret. Earlier this
year, the cost of stationing 8,000 American troops, backed by warplanes
and naval units, was estimated at $5 billion US monthly!
The CIA spends
millions every month to bribe Pushtun warlords.
rise as the U.S. expands bases in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan,
Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan - all placed along the planned
U.S.-owned pipeline that will bring Central Asian oil south through
The UN reports
the Taliban and al-Qaida on the offensive, Afghan women remain veiled
and the country is in a dangerous mess. Declaring victory in Afghanistan
may have been premature.
Eric can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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