Now for the second of our Charlies, this one Charlie Wilson, the ex-Congressman who recently passed away. He was the subject of an excellent book (and a movie which I have not seen): Charlie Wilson's War.
Back when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the rest of the world took little action. Yawn- another indigenous population being slaughtered by an oppressive regime- ten thousand years of "evolution" and the same old story.
Charlie's heart was with the native Afghanis fighting for freedom. He vowed to help, and did. Through misdirection, lying, dirty deals, and criminal activity (he was a Congressman, remember, so quite used to all this), he manuvered money and arms to the Mujahadeen, and garnered them considerable underground support overseas.
He provided them with the means to fight back against the most powerful weapon of the Soviet arsenal, the Hind helicopter. By providing Stinger missiles, the tide turned, and a small team of Afghanis could now bring down a multi-million ruble piece of sophisticated weaponry.
The natives got organized, got trained, and learned to work together to be effective against an invader. Eventually the Soviets got tired of wasting lives and money in a stupid, pointless war, and left. All their efforts got them was a pile of corpses, a pile of debt, and extreme humiliation. Hey, why can't we get some of that?
Fast-forward a few years, when in a spate of unbelievable hubris, arrogance, and stupidity, the government of the United States decides to ignore the lessons of history and occupies Afghanistan. Yeah, we took on the part of the Bad Guys, the Soviets. Even the leader who promised hope and change escalates the war, sending in even more supplies and troops, in an effort to bankrupt the United States and kill off its' soldiers (apparently not enough of them were dying in Iraq anymore).
The Afghanis did not greet us with flowers, but rather with the training and techniques they had learned fighting off previous invaders, partly due to the efforts of Charlie Wilson. And so our men and women (and theirs, and their children) are dying for nothing, in another pointless war that will never end until we get tired of wasting lives and money. And it will have all been for nothing. Murder and slaughter and torture and bloodshed, for no point. Human misery on an unimaginable scale, like nothing we pampered folk safely stateside have ever seen, but which we pay for with our tax dollars. Yup, we make it possible, so we're responsible for the kids getting blown up and shot.
Ah, you say- but we're fighting terror. Well, frequently our best intentions go somewhat astray, and we massacre another group of civilians. And their surviving relatives are understandably upset. A number of them vow vengeance, and so we have created even more opponents. Each year they grow stronger and more plentiful, while we just tool around like ducks in a shooting gallery.
Want to fight against terror over there? Wage peace instead. Educate the populace. Educated people with a real future don't listen to the religious fanatics anymore, and don't want to suicide-bomb themselves. Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea) says he can build over 30 schools for the money it takes to keep one US soldier over there in harm's way.
There is no "winning" that war, unless every person inside the country is dead. They will fight us there until we leave. Many people here complain bitterly about taxes, but they support wasting uncounted billions for the slaughter, and to enrich the murderous corporations that profit from our countries' wars. Among others, the butchers of Blackwater (Murder, Inc) having committed countless illegal murders and other acts in Iraq, are now going to be in the show in Afghanistan.
Charlie Wilson, "good time Charlie" as he was known, was a cheating womanizer, a drunk, and an abuser of the power of Congress and the laws of our country. He got a lot of people killed, a lot of them the ones he wanted to see killed. But I wonder if he ever thought and grew remorseful about the fact that his actions also got Americans killed. Probably not. The ones in power simply don't care about us, and send our men and women into harm's way to profit their campaign contributors.