|Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
|Bruce G. Richardson
Aid as a tool of foreign policy is often comprised of a multiplicity of form, covert, overt, political, economic, military, and as history warrants, as a precursor to invasion. On 3 July 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the first presidential-directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime of Hafizullah Amin in Kabul. That very day, Zbignew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser wrote a note to the president in which he explained that this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. Such an intervention would place Soviet military assets within striking distance of the vaunted Persian Gulf oil fields. The stated imperative or priority of successive American administrations since the onset of the Cold War is guarding America’s dominion/control over the strategic Persian Gulf oil fields. The pressing question therefore is what were the security implications or rationale behind the decision taken by the carter Administration to take such a high-stakes gamble in providing aid to the Afghan Resistance, when it was with a certainty that it would evoke a Soviet response?
The why of war has served as the academic life’s blood for a legion of historians, universities and investigative journalists since the onset of recorded history…the Soviet/Afghan War would therefore prove no different:
So, in December of 1979, noting the precarious position of the Communist Amin regime in Kabul, and now supported by covert American aid, the USSR in accordance with the Brezhnev Doctrine and claiming that they had been invited in by the Afghan Government invaded Afghanistan, assassinated the president Hafizullah Amin and installed Babrak Karmal in his place.
Among the many and varied hypotheses in existence today as to why the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, one standout narrative corroborated by an enormous research-based body of evidence and one gaining in currency among historians, is that the U.S. aid package to the Afghans was calculated and formulated to induce a Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. And that the result was intended, and not, as it would seem, an unintended consequence brought about by, or product of, a flawed foreign policy decision. Those historians who subscribe to the ‘calculated policy’ school of thought continue to ruminate over dissention as to what they view as a calculated decision by the U.S. to draw or induce the USSR into a protracted guerrilla war in a mountain fastness, in a country chronicled as The Graveyard of Empires, a tribute to the Afghans legendary martial ability, and a war from which it would be difficult if not impossible to extricate oneself, with those who see the invasion as an unintended consequence of a foreign policy decision.
Among the many caustic and belligerent quotes attributed to President Carter’s hawkish National Security Adviser, Zbignew Brzezinski, and one in support of the ‘calculated policy’ school of thought and conjecture was a remark he made to the media in early 1980 pertaining to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan: We have given the Soviets their Vietnam, a not so subtle reference to the extraordinary costs to America, both in economic and moral terms associated with their military adventurism in South Asia. A preponderance of evidence now suggests that contrary to the Carter Doctrine, which mandated maintaining security in the Persian Gulf, the policy of the U.S. to prioritize the security of the Persian Gulf oil fields was then subordinated to inducing the Soviets to intervene in Afghanistan, a tactic and an eventuality destined and designed to suck the blood out of their economy and to ‘bog them down militarily’. The lead ‘barn burner’ or advocate for this risky stratagem appears one Zbignew Brzezinski, an inveterate anti-Soviet personality and National Security Adviser to the Carter Administration. (See: The Grand Chessboard; American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbignew Brzezinski, 1997, p.7, and Unholy Wars, John K. Cooley, 2000, p17, and Hydrocarbons and a New Strategic Region: Afghanistan, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, Military Review, Lester Grau, May-June 2001)
An extraordinary exchange between Brzezinski and a reporter from Le Nouvel Observateur, in January of 1998 buttresses the argument that the Carter Administration did indeed intentionally plan to induce a Soviet response with their aid package to the Afghan Resistance: Reporter’s questions designated by the letter ‘Q’, responses by Brzezinski designated by the letter ‘B’.
Q. Despite the risk, you were an advocate of the covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired the Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B. It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q. When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the U.S. in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them, however there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
B. Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day the Soviets officially crossed the border I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupported by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire.
Q. And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B. What is more important to the history of the world, the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?
Q. Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
B. Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Loom at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites Christian countries.
Later, a candid admission by Brzezinski is that he intended by meddling in Afghanistan in 1979 prior to the Soviet invasion was precisely to effect or induce a Soviet military intervention. His ultimate motives were geostrategic and would eventually weaken the Soviet Union and hasten its dissolution. (See: The Grand Chessboard; American Primacy and it’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbignew Brzezinski, 1997, p7) This brazen admission by Brzezinski is corroborated in the memoirs of leading Soviet military and intelligence personnel. (See: The Hand of Moscow, Leonid Shebarshin, Director, First Department KGB (Foreign Intelligence), 1992, and Limited Contingent, Boris Gromov, Commander 40th Army Afghanistan, 1994, and Plamya Afgana, A.A. Liakhovskii, Military Adviser to Najibullah, 1999)
What is absolutely mind numbing in light of the irrefutable evidence and unabashedly evident in this poignant exchange between the reporter and Brzezinski, is the absolute hubris, callousness and disregard for the safety and welfare of a sovereign nation and its people when it comes to formulating a foreign policy priority, imperative and or global strategy for the U.S.
To knowingly induce an invasion, and therefore to preside over the destruction of Afghanistan and the resultant forfeiture of more than two-million lives in order to gain political and or strategic advantage in the Cold War is unconscionable for a civilized society. The so-called protections as enumerated in the Geneva Conventions, and other of the numerous conventions and treaties regarding conduct in the time of war and of which the U.S. is a signatory of record, have therefore been thoroughly and totally eviscerated.