Friday, January 07, 2005


Creating the Taliban

One of the greatest benefits of law school is the ability to learn how to use facts, and present them in a way that drives your argument home. A few days ago, we were sitting in the secretarial pool discussing trial advocacy, and how lesser than ethical lawyers use deceptive tricks to steer the jury in a certain direction, tricks which would get anyone who holds a position in a District Attorney's office, a JAG Corp, or the US Attorney's office tossed onto the street, and probably dis-BAR'd. However, on a different level, journalists around the world are not held to the same ethical standards that we in the judicial branch are held to, and not even to the same standards that journalists from fifty years ago were held to.

Journalists in the United States not only regulated themselves, but the best-of-the-best were sent on missions to find the true story that was breaking before their eyes. Not only did they have credentials that made the digital camera toting, PDA scrambingly pseudo-writers of today look like trash, but they took pride in what they were writing, and rarely --- with the exception of those who deemed themselves as "opinion columnists" --- took a stance on either side of the isle.

Which brings me to the topic of the day --- the Taliban. I was reading a few columns over at Right Thinking, when one of the regulars, a gentleman by the name of Sean M. brought up the facts and figures behind the Taliban, and the myth that they were born and bred out of American minds. Many left wingers have been pushing the lie that the Taliban was an American creation, and that we created and funded them, thus making America the founder of modern terrorism. In fact, if you listen to lefties, you will start to believe that America deserved the attacks because we created the Taliban.

This is anything but the truth. In fact, this is as far from the truth as anything in the world.

Just as the journalists of today are creating the news as they see fit (please see my post about how they created their own facts to link President Bush directly to Abu Ghraib), the liberal elite create their own set of "facts" to push on the American public. Here's the truth about the Taliban:
One of the greatest criticisms of U.S. policy, especially after the rise of the Taliban, has been that the CIA directly supported Arab volunteers who came to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Soviets, but eventually used those American arms to engage in terrorist war against the West. However, the so-called "Afghan Arabs" only emerged as a major force in the 1990s. During the resistance against the Soviet occupation, Arab volunteers played at best a cursory role.

According to a former intelligence official active in Afghanistan during the late 1980s, the Arab volunteers seldom took part in fighting and often raised the ire of local Afghans who felt the volunteers merely got in the way. In an unpublished essay, a military officer writing under the name Barney Krispin, who worked for the CIA during its support of the Afghan mujahidin's fight against the Soviet Army, summoned up the relationship between Afghan and non-Afghan fighters at that time:

The relationship between the Afghans and the Internationalists was like a varsity team to the scrubs. The Afghans fought their own war and outsiders of any stripe were kept on the sidelines. The bin Ladin's of this Jihad could build and guard roads, dig ditches, and prepare fixed positions; however, this was an Afghan Jihad, fought by real Afghans, and eventually won by real Afghans. Bin Ladin sat out the 'big one.'

Milton Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, was equally blunt, writing:

Despite what has often been written, the CIA never recruited, trained, or otherwise used the Arab volunteers who arrived in Pakistan. The idea that the Afghans somehow needed fighters from outside their culture was deeply flawed and ignored basic historical and cultural facts.

Bearden continued to explain though that while the Afghan Arabs were "generally viewed as nuisances by mujahidin commanders, some of whom viewed them as only slightly less bothersome than the Soviets," the work of Arab fundraisers was appreciated. (Rubin, 2002)

I have no idea where these rumors started, but they had no problem building speed after the attacks on the World Trade Center. In fact, Mona Charen was quick to debunk it as soon as the rumor started, stating:
It's not true. The American Enterprise magazine reports: "The anti-Soviet Mujahedin funded by the U.S. consisted of seven factions. Some were fundamentalist Muslims who envisioned an Islamic state along the lines of Saudi Arabia. About as many had a cosmopolitan orientation and wanted a Westernized state similar to Turkey. The Taliban were not among the Mujahedin factions at all, and all of the Taliban's important leaders, including Mullah Omar, were out of the country, mostly in Pakistan, during the war against the Soviets." (Charen, 2001)

From what I gather, this idea that we (the United States) were the "creators" and "benefactors" of the Taliban were probably started by the same people who swear that President Bush rigged the election, and that Iraq is a "war for oil." As Thomas H. Henrikson stated, "Like other accepted historical myths—Paul Kennedy’s American "imperial overstretch," CIA knowledge of a contra–drug dealers connection, or the "accidental presidency" of George W. Bush—the Afghanistan blowback myth has taken on a life of its own. A putative CIA term, blowback has insinuated itself into a variety of pundits’ pontifications." In other words, you can make up whatever version of history you like, but that doesn't mean it's going to be right, or going to be true.

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