Saturday, September 12, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

The Koran and the Kalashnikov chronicles the history of American involvement in the Indo-Pakistani region, particularly in Afghanistan, from the American involvement in the Soviet-Afghanistan war and onward.

Dr Charles Cogan described the policy of supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan as "pay back" for the Russians, who had supported the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war -- effectively as revenge for the deaths of American servicemen during that conflict.

If revenge was truly the aim of American policy, it worked spectacularly. The Soviet Union reported that 15,000 of its troops were killed and 37,000 wounded. It remains far short of the more than 58,000 American servicemen killed and 303,000 wounded in Vietnam, but the defeat was every bit as humiliating for the Soviet Union as the American defeat in Vietnam had been.

Yet if the Soviet Union had reaped in Afghanistan what they had sowed in Vietnam, the United States would yet reap on its own soil what it had sowed in Afghanistan.

Just as Soviet intervention in Vietnam would give rise to a state with an atrocious human rights record and thus prove to be rather irresponsible, American involvement in the Soviet-Afghanistan war proved to be irresponsible in that it lent material support to individuals such as Osama Bin Laden, an individual so committed to a warped concept of Islamic jihad that he would eventually turn on his own suppliers after being rebuffed in his native Saudi Arabia.

But what the United States reaped it didn't reap alone. Osama Bin Laden parlayed the reputation he had earned as a leader into tremendous influence among fundamentalist Islamic circles, and used the presence of foreign troops on Muslim holy lands to ratchet up ideological support for his terrorist tactics, and draw more disenfranchised Muslims to act in favour of his cause.

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan provided Bin Laden with safe haven to plan his activities and to establish training camps for Muslim terrorists.

As The Koran and the Kalashnikov reminds us, much of this could have been headed off if re-building efforts had been continued in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal, as opposed to simply abandoning the country to material poverty and civil war.

How many so-called "peace" activists imagine a similar situation can be avoided by withdrawing from Afghanistan and leaving it to the devices of extremist political organizations such as the Taliban and Hisb-i-Islami remains uncertain.

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