The fiction sold in Charlie's War gives the CIA a free pass
[Melissa Roddy, like several of the principals in the saga of Afghanistan, is a native Texan. An actress based in Los Angeles, she is currently producing and directing a documentary film on the history of Afghanistan from 1979 to 9/11 entitled The Square Root of Terror.]
Charlie Wilson's War purports to be the true story of a hard-partying U.S. congressman from Texas who engineered the defeat of the Soviet Union by the Afghan Mujahiddin. Now there are true stories, and there are true-ish stories. It is a given that, in creating a film narrative, sometimes the truth gets a little bent, but it's against the rules to change facts that change the outcome of history. When telling the story of Antony and Cleopatra, they gotta die at the end, n'est pas. It's inappropriate, for example, to tell the story of World War II and pretend that, because the United States might have given a box of guns to the French Underground, there was no Holocaust. That's a pretty good analogy for what's been done in Charlie Wilson's War.
In the latter half of the movie, there is one big lie and one item of anti-Afghan propaganda. The lie is that U.S. support to the mujahiddin went only to the faction led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan leader who was assassinated on Sept. 9, 2001. I spoke with Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Texas, in 2002, at which time he called Massoud "a Russian collaborator." I find it disingenuous that Wilson and his Hollywood biographers now want to throw their arms around him. (Note: George Crile's book does not make this false claim.) Moreover, if this movie succeeds in convincing Americans that the U.S. support went to Ahmad Shah Massoud alone, it will have effectively let the CIA and Wilson off the hook for their contribution to the circumstances leading up to 9/11. During the 1980s, Wilson engineered the appropriation of approximately $3.5 billion to help the Afghans fight the Soviets. According to Milt Bearden, CIA chief of station to Pakistan, Massoud received less than 1 percent of it.
So, if Massoud was not receiving the $3.5 billion that Congress was sending, who was? There were seven factions based in Pakistan who were the recipients of American largesse, but about 40 percent of it went to a blood-thirsty, fundamentalist, loudly anti-American bastard named Gulbaddin Hekmatyar....
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Lorraine Paul - 1/1/2008
I have a memory too! So blatant and well-known was US support for the Mujahadeen that it was even used as a plot device in a James Bond film made at that time!
Red Army - bad....Mujahadeen - good.
What a hollow laugh that gives us all nowadays!
Randll Reese Besch - 12/31/2007
At the time of the CIA mainly concentrating the funding,training and arming of the most fanatical. The claim was that only the mujahadeen would fight the hardest over any other faction. Utter nonsense and we are all paying for that bit of blowback.
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