In a bit of unpoetic justice, Bob Gates helped create the mess in Afghanistan decades ago and now has to try to clean it up.
At the C.I.A. in the ’80s, Gates conspired with Charlie Wilson and the Saudis to help the insurgents in Afghanistan turn back the occupation of a superpower. Now he’s guiding the attempt of the occupying superpower to turn back the insurgents, some of whom are the same ones he armed to defeat the Soviet Union.
Trying to do a good thing that also seemed like a strategically brilliant thing — help the Afghan Davids repel the raw aggression of the Soviet Goliaths — we created the monsters that have come back to haunt us, and we learned how little control we have over history.
We trained a whole generation of jihadists and armed them. We paved the way for the Taliban takeover and the rise of Osama bin Laden. We created the Islamist power in the northwest frontier of Pakistan, swelled by millions of Afghan refugees. We enabled the conditions for bin Laden’s safe haven. We contributed to the instability of Pakistan.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Maureen Dowd, the Historian
She does a pretty good job of getting the fact right in her NY Times op-ed. Here's the intro: