Thursday, November 22, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

This is supposed to be released this December, which means it could be nominated for an Oscar. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in this movie about a boozing Congressman from Texas who launches his own jihad against the entrenched bureaucracy of the CIA to help the mujaheddin of Afghanistan resist the Soviet invasion of their country.

Vlad has some axes to grind with his own country but he projects them onto the book Charlie Wilson's War that the movie is based on in his review posted on Amazon.

"The direction of one sided, pro-government "journalism" which serves as one of the tools used to brainwash average American." I think that more accurately describes how TASS and other such official Soviet news organs presented the invasion and ten years of hell inflicted upon Afghanistan.
Did the United States really fund the 'freedom fighter' Taliban we now face as Vlad claims? No, after the Soviet withdrawal, the Taliban came out of Pashtun and with Saudi assistance quickly pushed back the United Islamic Front which was made up of parties that did receive funds from Charlie Wilson's end-around the CIA.
Was it all peaceful in Afghanistan before the flow of US funds and arms? Here Vlad is missing the mark because the USSR misread the whole mess in Afghanistan and saw it all through the lens of Marxism-Leninism and not the reality of how the country called Afghanistan really is.

  • However, often our people, acting out of their best intentions, tried to transplant the approached we are accustomed to onto the Afghan soil, encouraged the Afghans to copy our ways. All this did not help our cause, it bred the feelings of dependency on the part of the Afghan leaders in regard to the Soviet Union both in the sphere of military operations and in the economic sphere.

In 1982 there was one report of Soviet forces killing a boy who protested the burning of the mosque's fuel. Or the mystery of some tribal leaders from Ghanzi being found dead and their bodies in advance state of decomposition though they had been in Soviet custody just a few days. Of course back in 1979 to 1981 there were reports that Secretary of State George Schultz stated were cases of the Soviets and their Afghan allies using chemical agents on anti-government forces.

When Gorbachev and the Soviet Union finally realized the futility of this mis-adventure, some 13,000 Soviet soldiers had paid the ultimate sacrifice while another 35,000 were wounded or disabled. Some in Russia still cling to the idea it was only due to the infusion of American supplied weapons and cash that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was thwarted. I would think Colonel Tsagalov, a veteran of the Red Army would disagree. In fact he did disagree and was sacked for his honesty.

Will this Tom Hanks movie be a decent recounting of what really happened, that remains to be seen. I might give this movie a whirl to find out.

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