August 29, 2003
By Bill King
the law of cause and effect. It's the "what goes around comes
around, reap what you sow, as the chickens come home to roost"
thing. Buddhists call it karma. It states that the forces
of nature will have their way regardless of our human capacity
for hubris, greed, or force. It says that somewhere, sometime,
and in some way our good deeds will be rewarded and our bad
deeds will be punished. You might even call it God's justice
if you choose, but be careful where you pin the "good" and
In the late 1970s, a military coup in Afghanistan brought
to power in that country a leftist regime that soon looked
to the neighboring Soviet Union for financial and military
support. The Soviets were quick to answer the call. In Iran,
however, militant Muslim groups were alarmed and angered by
this turn of events and began calling for a holy war against
the "godless communists." The Jimmy Carter administration
saw an opportunity and began funneling money and arms to the
Mujahadeen in Iran and Afghanistan.
When the Soviets realized that American aid was flowing
and that their control of the Afghan power structure was tenuous
at best, they invaded Afghanistan. The United States was quick
to condemn the invasion. In addition to publicly renouncing
the Soviet incursion, Carter also blocked scheduled grain
shipments to the USSR and announced an American boycott of
the upcoming Olympic Games in Moscow.
It wasn't until years later that we discovered the whole
truth behind this dramatic sequence of events. America had
set up the Soviets and sucked them in. On the day that the
Soviets crossed the border into Afghanistan, the US National
Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, told President Jimmy
Carter, "We now have the opportunity of giving the Soviet
Union its Vietnam War." That was Brzenziski's way of describing
a quagmire, a long drawn out stalemate that would slowly drain
the Soviets of money, material, and the will to fight.
When Ronald Reagan took office, he kept the gravy train
on track. He continued aid, technology, and covert CIA training
to the Afghan rebels while referring to them as "freedom fighters."
Indeed, for the next ten years the Soviet regime carried on
an extremely costly and demoralizing campaign that eventually
led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and finally
to the fall of the USSR. When the Soviets withdrew, the so-called
"freedom fighters" stayed on in Afghanistan to form a group
that came to be called Al Qaeda. A man named Osama bin Laden
was among its leaders.
These radical rebel groups, then as now, rely on unconventional
tactics. Because they are almost always outnumbered, they
more often than not count on their cunning and wits. Guerilla
warfare is their foundational strategy. The tactics involved
are not pretty. That's why when they fight for us we call
them "freedom fighters," but, when they fight against us,
we call them terrorists.
This is where the tables now are turned. The rebels we propped
up and encouraged during the 1980s have now turned on us.
They and their brothers and cousins have decided that we are
now the "godless" ones and have turned their full wrath on
us. Is it karma? I do not know.
But I do know this: Iraq, a state that was not a terrorist
haven before we invaded it, is fast becoming one. In their
view, coalition soldiers are unjustifiably occupying a Muslim
nation. And even for those Iraqis who showed no loyalty to
the former regime, our presence is humiliating and emasculating
to many of them. They are not only shouting, "No Saddam!"
They are also shouting "No Bush!" as well.
After several months of occupation, our efforts there are
a tragic mess. Oil pipelines, water works, and electrical
grids are being sabotaged daily. Resistance forces do not
distinguish between Iraqi civilian and US military targets.
This is breeding demoralization among our troops and animosity
among innocent Iraqis who naturally blame the coalition occupiers
for not establishing peace and order. Forget about democracy.
How about a mere twenty-four hours of uninterrupted electrical
This is how a high-ranking UN official put it. "The US is
now on the soil of an Arab country, a Muslim country, where
the terrorists have all the advantages. They are fighting
in a terrain which they know and the US does not know, with
cultural images the US does not understand, and with a language
the American soldiers do not speak. The troops can't even
read the street signs."
A Saudi dissident recently overheard a security official
say that as many as 3000 Saudi men had gone "missing" in the
past two months. Apparently they were crossing the porous
borders into Iraq to join the resistance. Why are we not standing
up to Saudi Arabia? Ask George W."s daddy. Could it be that
his Carlyle Group's long-standing business dealings with Saudi
royalty are a higher priority than American lives?
Not only do the American people have no clear idea of why
we are in Iraq, neither do our soldiers. And in the midst
of what's becoming a guerilla war, hawks like John McCain
are now calling for more troops. Anyone hearing echoes of
Vietnam? The hundreds of thousands we sent to Southeast Asia
were never enough. And since it is true that "occupiers have
to build, while resistance only has to destroy," it takes
only one terrorist to wreak havoc on thousands
As Bob Herbert of the New York Times said, how many
lives are we willing to lose for "the payoff of a policy spun
from fantasy and lies?" We're beginning to reap what we've
sown. I sense some going around, coming around. We're setting
ourselves up and sucking ourselves in. It's time for Americans
to wake-up. One quagmire per generation is one quagmire too
many. Enough of the idiotic "Bring 'em on." I say "Bring 'em