When the Shah of Iran stepped down in 1978, the U.S. lost a key ally in the Middle East. Several months previously, MohammedDaud, the king of Afghanistan, was overthrown by the socialist leaning “People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)”. After the king was overthrown, Soviet troops began to gather at Afghanistan’s northern border. This is when the U.S. made a huge mistake. In their panic to prevent the Soviets from controlling the Middle East, they began to provide massive funding to a backward and unstable country. They did not stop to think about what the consequences of providing weapons (such as anti- aircraft missiles) to a group of people who the world had ignored for sixty years. They were blinded by their fear of the Soviets. There was no consideration as to what the Afghan’s intentions were. The U.S. provided training, guns, and money to whoever needed it; however, no one cared what the Afghans did with the supplies, as long as they used them to fight their enemy when the time came. It was considered to be tactically efficient to have other people fight in the Proxy Wars rather than actual Americans. The Americans gave no thought as to what the Afghan people did with their weapons once the battles were over.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Mujahideen (faith based rebel fighters) with U.S. funding were ready to fight them. The Soviets were able to capture the capital Kabul, but they were constantly attacked by the rebel forces. The U.S. also funded nearby Pakistan with millions of dollars in order to prevent a Soviet invasion there. As the years progressed, more funding and advanced weaponry were given to the Mujahideen rebels. In 1984, they received advanced anti-armor missiles that were used against the U.S. years later. By 1987, almost 700 million dollars and 65,000 tons of arms were being sent yearly to Afghanistan operations (Harvery). The reason given to the public for this investment in Afghanistan was that the world had to be safe for democracy everywhere. These words are almost identical to those that Woodrow Wilson used when the U.S. was deciding to declare war on Germany in WWI. They are also the same words that George Bush would use twenty years later when he said that he would never give up in his “War on Terror” (Carlin).
The war in Afghanistan lasted for nine years before the Soviets pulled out of the region. In the United States, government officials were congratulating each other on a mission accomplished. In Afghanistan, the people were suffering. There had been over one million casualties, and three million people were homeless. Unfortunately, as soon as the war ended, so did the flow of money. The funding went from millions to nothing in less than a month. This is the time period when the Afghans needed U.S. support the most. When the funding stopped, the Afghans viewed this as a betrayal. In the words of an American worker in the area named Rashid, “ To many Afghans, the U.S. withdrawal constituted a major betrayal, while Washington’s refusal to harness international pressure to help broker a settlement between the warlords was considered a double betrayal” (Harvery).
Without a strong, central government, the country dissolved into chaos. Warlords grabbed as much territory and as many men as they could. Old tribal boundaries and laws from hundreds of years past resurfaced. Frequent wars broke out between the different factions. Many experts point to this time as the reason for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. When Afghanistan was at its weakest and crying for its former friends, they abandoned them to their fate. During this chaos, the experts say, any rogue regime could have taken power. It was just coincidence that they hated the United States. None of the experts mention that the reason there was no regime in place to handle the resulting bloodshed was because the U.S had stepped in with money and weapons. The U.S. helped to maintain the calm before the invasion. If the British had been there to stop the violence before it even started, there would have been no pretext for an anti-western group to gain power. There would be no reason for the CIA trained Mujahideen to gain power. They used their tactics and weapons to form a new group known as the Taliban. They captured Kabul and were able to restore peace to most of Afghanistan; however, there was one thing that they still wanted and that was revenge against the U.S. for abandoning their country.
As their popularity and power grew, so did their hatred of their former allies. Eventually, a group of men from Eastern Afghanistan formed together to create Al-Qaeda. Their leader was a former Mujahideen supplier named Osama Bin Laden. Using his skills that he learned during the Cold War, he created an army that hated the U.S. They quickly formed an alliance with the anti-American Taliban and formed a plan to attack the United States (Harvery).
On September 11th, 2001, their plan was carried out and 3,000 Americans died. One month later the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to destroy the attackers. The U.S. overthrew the Taliban government of Afghanistan and sought to rid the country of its terrorist groups. Their official goals were to stabilize and modernize the country, find Osama Bin Laden, retrain the Afghan army to patrol its borders and help rid itself of its terrorist groups (Harvery). Today, none of these goals have officially been accomplished and violence in the area is increasing. The locals are getting angry with the U.S. as more civilians are killed by air strikes. The remnants of the Taliban still have strong support in the south and have claimed responsibility for many improvised explosive device attacks. Along the Pakistani border, terrorists cross into Afghanistan with help from local warlords, they attack U.S. convoys, and then retreat back into Pakistan (Whiteehind the ).
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