Friday, October 23, 2009

The Washington Post Creates Its Own Facts to Support Afghan Nation-Building

(Photo Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t;
Adapted From: divds and zoriah/flickr)

    The Washington Post is creating its own facts in order to support its argument for US nation-building in Afghanistan. In its lead editorial on Saturday, the Post asserted that the United States is capable of building a strong government in Afghanistan at the national and local levels. The Post claimed that Afghanistan had had a "working national government through most of the 1970s and 1980s." This is simply not so.

    Afghanistan has always been a diverse, loosely organized country, although there was support for King Mohammad Zahir's reign from 1933 to 1973. King Zahir was the last Afghan ruler to pretend to play a national role, but he was a weak and indifferent ruler, spending most of his time abroad. He was ousted in a bloodless coup in 1973 by Prince Mohammad Daoud, who proclaimed himself the first president of the Republic of Afghanistan. There has not been a stable government in Afghanistan since then.

   Daoud lasted until 1978, when the same leftist officers who had ousted the king occupied the palace and killed Daoud, his wife and many of his children and grandchildren. Daoud was replaced by Nur Mohammad Taraki, secretary of the People's Democratic (Communist) party, who was ousted and eventually executed by a supposedly loyal follower, Hafizullah Amin. In this period, marked by instability and violence, there was no evidence of national support for either Taraki or Amin. The conventional wisdom was that the Soviets were responsible for Daoud's coup against the king as well as the events that led to the overthrow of Daoud. In fact, it was Iran and not the Soviet Union that was responsible, as Tehran (with the encouragement of the United States) had been trying to draw Kabul into a western-tilted, Tehran-centered security sphere.

    In any event, developments were about to get worse, and Afghanistan was going to move even further from what the Post described as a strong government at the national and local levels. On Christmas Eve, 1979, Soviet armed forces invaded Afghanistan, killed Amin and replaced him with Babrak Karmal, a Communist who was subservient to Moscow's wishes. This marked the fourth Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 54 years, following small-scale interventions in 1925, 1929 and 1930. It is not widely known, but President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, sponsored covert efforts in Central Asia to foment rebellion inside the Soviet Union even before Moscow ordered the invasion of Afghanistan. President Carter then authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to assist Afghan rebels six months before Moscow invaded.

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