Skip to comments.Recent history of Afghanistan
Posted on 09/15/2001 8:44:58 PM PDT by StratRant
A lot of people have been posting their opinion that the Taliban was created by Reagan's support of anti-Soviet rebels during the 1980's. This is not true. Here is a short recent history of Afghanistan that attempts to explain why.
The government in Afghanistan has never been particularly stable. However it was relatively pro-West for much of the past century. In the mid-1970's, Afghanistan was ruled by a moderate, anti-Soviet monarchy. But that government was overthrown in a military coup in 1978 and then again by Communists. In in the following year the Soviets invaded with 80,000 troops to install a pro-Soviet puppet regime. Then followed a decade of war that the Afghanis call the "War of Liberation". During that time Ronald Reagan, a principled anti-Communist, supplied semi-covert assistance to every anti-Communist rebel group he could find-- including the pre-Communist monarchy and various radical Islamic factions.
After the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in 1989, our the Bush (41st) administration had the opportunity to support Ahmad Shah Masood who was one of the heroes of the war and (although a devout Muslim) would have made the country into a pro-West, moderate regime. He was part of a coalition government that took over in 1992, but our government provided absolutely no assistance. Since the Communists were defeated, the Bush (41st) administration's belief was that America had no interests in that region. Because of this myopia, pro-West sentiments eroded. The situation quickly degenerated into civil war with Masood and a radical Muslim cleric named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar leading major factions.
The Taliban appeared in November 1994, led by Hektmayer's protege Mullah Omar and backed by both Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan, in particular, was interested in creating a radical Islamic government in the region that they would then have influence over. In the beginning, the Taliban was supported by the public because they were tired of civil war and anarchy, and because so much of the population had been wiped out by the Soviets that no one remembered what life was like before the war began. Since then the "noose has tightened," and public sentiment (especially in the cities) has turned against them. But the Taliban is a totalitarian regime and punishes dissidence with death.
Hekmatyar has since died, and the Taliban has just recently assasinated Masood. Masood's Northern Alliance rebel group, with virtually no support from outside Afghanistan, controls perhaps 15% of the land. The missile attacks on Kabul that CNN initially reported as an American strike was in fact the Northern Alliance rebels fighting desperately for their lives.
Now, a lot of people blame the United States for creating the Taliban, and in one sense it is true. But the argument usually put forth is that we created the Taliban by backing Islamic fundamentalists during the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. This is simply not so. The Taliban did not even exist until 5 years after the Soviets had left. They are not a child of War of Liberation but a creation of Afghanistan's radical Islamic neighbors.
The Taliban was not created by Western governments' meddling but by the power vacuum left when the West lost interest in the region after the Soviet empire collapsed. Any culpability our government has is in totally failing to recognize the global Islamic resurgence as a threat to our security. The Bush and Clinton administrations had ample opportunity to install (or at least support) a pro-West regime led by a religious moderate and war hero. The Taliban and the Islamic resurgence in Afghanistan would never have occurred if they had done so.
Now that Masood is dead, it is too late to correct that error. I don't know what the Bush (43rd) administration has in mind for an end state of a war with the Taliban, but the situation is much more complex and difficult than it was ten years ago.
When troops arrived and started knocking down the wall between the street and the Church property preparatory to destroying it, a German Christian businessman went to the mayor of Kabul, who had given the order, and said, "If your Government touches that House of God, God will overthrow your Government." This proved to be a prophecy. The mayor then sent a letter to the congregation ordering them to give the Church for destruction, since that would mean that the Government would not have to pay compensation. They replied that they could not give it to anyone since it did not belong to them. It had been dedicated to God. They also added that if the Government took it and destroyed it, they would be answerable to God.
Police, workmen and bulldozers were sent to destroy the Church. The congregation, instead of opposing, offered them tea and cookies. Christians all around the world prayed and many of them wrote letters to Afghan embassies in various nations. Billy Graham and other world Christian leaders signed a statement of concern and sent it to the King.
On July 17, 1973 the destruction of the Church building was completed. That very night the Afghan Government responsible for the destruction was overthrown in a coup. Afghans who are quick to see omens in events say that Jesus the Messiah came down from heaven and overthrew the Government because the Government had overthrown His Church. It had been a Monarchy for 227 years. That night it became a Republic, under President Daoud. In 1978 this Government was toppled by a Communist coup, followed by the Russian invasion just after Christmas in 1979. Millions of Afghans had to flee their country as refugees. One of them was heard to say, "Ever since our Government destroyed that Christian Church, God has been judging our country."
HMMMMMM!!!!! Bush's "CRUSADE" makes a LOT more sense in this light. The non-Taliban will welcome it.
The money to the Taliban was Clinton's decision, and Congress's of course.