Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -- George Santayana
Some time in the dim dark ages of the 70s, there was an ugly election in Afghanistan, and the government that resulted therefrom wound up "calling in Soviet help". Without looking up details, my recollection -- as a child of about twelve -- has it that essentially, the Soviets manipulated events to provide them with a pretext to invade Afghanistan.
Why? Well, you know. Everybody else has done it at some time or another. So why not? Anyway, the why of the matter isn't germane. What you need to know is that for the next ten years or so, Afghans and their allies who didn't much like being part of the USSR put up some very seriously stiff resistance. The irregular fighters who opposed the Soviets were called "Mujahadeen" (or variations on that spelling) and were lauded as heroes in the Western media.
Alongside the Mujahadeen were the Taliban, a religious group nobody seemed to know much about. But the Taliban were very effective in kicking Russki Buttski, so the media wrote them up as good guys too, and largely ignored the utter hell that followed in the Taliban's wake.
During this period, the Russians and Americans weren't good buddies. (Stop me if I'm going too fast, okay?) But with both sides having a lot of nuclear sunshine tucked away, ready to bring out if anybody started to fling the poo-poo, neither was willing to directly confront the other. And thus, both the Soviets and the Yanks did a lot of surreptitious supporting of various militia groups around the world.
So: the CIA thought the Mujahadeen were a bunch of Righteous Dudes, and they flung a lot of money, training, and rather expensive and advanced missile hardware at them. They were fighting the Russkis, right? They must be good guys, right?
Imagine everybody's surprise in 2001, a decade or more after the whole USSR-in-Afghanistan thing was just a memory, when a cluster of civilian aircraft were used to wipe out the World Trade Centre in New York. And who was behind that? Oh -- that would be Osama Bin Laden, one of the men who also supplied and trained and supported those self-same Mujahadeen fighters the CIA had been backing.
When the smoke from the WTC cleared and the Yanks were ready to look around and find someone to invade, what was their first port of call? Why, it was Afghanistan! Apparently, pouring money and training and military hardware into the hands of a bunch of hardcore militia fighters isn't the way to build a modern democratic nation! Who knew, eh? I mean -- who would have thought those Mujahadeen and their Taliban buddies would be so ungrateful that they'd let Osama and his people live and work and train and plan in the wilds of Afghanistan.
Who'd have imagined that a bit of sneaky (Russian) bear-baiting could turn into the defining political force of the first quarter of the new century? Who would have imagined that cosying up to a bunch of bearded religious fascists could lead to multiple invasions and wars, unthinkable expenditure of money and materiel, the destruction of American civil society, debate and civil rights, and the propagation of terror and oppression across the globe?
Jeez. That was a mistake, eh? We won't do that again in a hurry, will we?
Except that there's this country. It's called Syria. And the Russians are backing the current government, under a guy called Assad, but there are a lot of people who don't like him, and there's a civil war going on. Mind you, the people fighting Assad aren't just Syrians, no. A lot of them are career jihadists, Muslim fanatic fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
So, what does President Obama do?
Why, he nullifies a US law against supplying arms to terrorist organisations so that the US can provide money, munitions, materiel and training to the Syrian "rebels". Pretty much the way they did to the jihadis back in Afghanistan thirty years ago.
Fuck. Me. Sideways.
Somebody, anybody -- please get me the fuck off this planet before the inevitable shitstorm apocalypse of stupidity kills us all.