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Bring 'Em Home
August 29, 2003
By Bill King

It's 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 "bad" tags.

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 power?

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 home."

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