Interesting piece on 60 minutes -- the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - U2 Feedback

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Old 12-23-2001, 07:54 PM   #1
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Interesting piece on 60 minutes -- the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

There was an interesting piece on 60 minutes today. They interviewed Charlie Wilson, a Congressman from Texas who was instrumental in getting the government to give the CIA billions of dollars of aid to give to the mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan. Basically, Wilson doesn't regret helping the mujaheddin repel the Soviet invasion, but regrets not sticking around to help Afghanistan rebuild--a sentiment that has been voiced by many in this forum.

Wilson had this to say about Osama bin Laden: "the idea that he is angry about the US military presence in Saudi Arabia is ludicrous...if it weren't for our military, Saddam Hussein would be smoking his cigars in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina."
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Old 12-25-2001, 04:36 AM   #2
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One point of view I thought interesting was that in essence by the United States via the CIA involving themselves with repelling the Soviet occupation of Afganistan they created the monster of Osama Bin Laden (training, money, bloody encouragement). But it is possible that because of Afghanistan's eventual defeat of the Soviet military, it may have virtually brought down the entire Soviet system and brought about the end of Communism in Europe.

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Old 12-29-2001, 12:00 PM   #3
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This is a hard subject to deal with. It's like the School of the Americas all over again. Does America have a responsibility to help nations in turmoil? Or should we mind our own business? I think that we need to get our act together before we go out and "rescue" other countries. We weren't together when we were in Vietnam and look what hapened there. Training the people to fight for themselves is a good theory. We wouldn't have to have a lot of troops on the ground and we wouldn't be as involved as we could be. At the same time, we have a lot of money and military, we really should be helping other people. I just don't know.

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Old 12-29-2001, 04:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lilly:
This is a hard subject to deal with. It's like the School of the Americas all over again. Does America have a responsibility to help nations in turmoil? Or should we mind our own business? I think that we need to get our act together before we go out and "rescue" other countries. We weren't together when we were in Vietnam and look what hapened there. Training the people to fight for themselves is a good theory. We wouldn't have to have a lot of troops on the ground and we wouldn't be as involved as we could be. At the same time, we have a lot of money and military, we really should be helping other people. I just don't know.

Yah.. we do give lots and lots of money to needy countries.. Ithink the amount last year to afghanistan was $200 million?... But also.. you hit a good point of using the troops in the country to fight the war for the cause they.. and we support.. that's what they're saying about what they'll do when we take the war to iraq.. we'll give money/weapons to teh rebels to take out saddam for us.. It worked in Afghanistan.. It's a good tactic.. and the american people are for it..

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Old 01-02-2002, 04:05 PM   #5
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A famous rock star recently noted that for every dollar the U.S. gives to needy countries (he was referring specifically to Africa, but World Bank data indicates that the pattern holds elsewhere), those countries pay nine dollars to service debt. This prevents them from developing even the weakest semblance of a public health system, education, infrastructure, and the other basic pre-requisites for peace, stability, and participatory democracy.

Secondly, I think many people don't quite understand what exactly the "aid" we provide is. We need to itemize here - it turns out that when you do, it's almost never true humanitarian assistance. "Aid" includes grants to governments and politicians that buy weapons (often from us) with the money, line their own pockets, develop death squads, and use the money to support initiatives that prevent fair treatment of the poor and of workers.

U.S. "aid", with occasional exceptions, is simply our whitewashing of U.S. financial support for those governments, politicians, and businesses that support the interests of U.S. corporations.
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Old 01-02-2002, 04:37 PM   #6
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On the Afghani "model" of U.S. involvement:

Great idea. Another example of how the "war on terrorism" continues to astound us with development of great policy. U.S. fighter planes and bombers can bravely murder thousands of people in a distant country and fly away; on the ground, Afghanis can only kill other Afghanis. And now we can apply it to Iraq as well. Beautiful, humane policy that explains why the world is so in love with the U.S. government, and that will certainly deter terrorism in the future.

Basically, the touted option involves minimizing American MILITARY casualties (as in paid soldiers who volunteered to fight and can defend themselves) at the cost of killing many more Iraqis/Afghanis, including many civilians. Let's look at this. The American soldier flew 8000 miles, without conscription or coercion, to murder people he's never met. The Afghani civilian just wanted to mind her own business but was trampled successively by the Soviets, mujaheedin rogues, and Taliban. So why is the peace-loving civilian's life considered less valuable than the soldier's? Because she's Afghani and he's American? I knew the politicians thought this way, but can some of you really think that way?

It really amazes me how some find it so easy to consider an Afghani or Iraqi casualty as qualitatively different from an American causalty. Clearly, some view Afghanis/Iraqis as fundamentally different from themselves, and value an Afghani/Iraqi life less than an American one.

Sad. But it explains a lot about other things as well - for instance, why Africa is being flushed down the toilet - for many in the West, the value of a non-American or non-European life is plainly less than than of an American/European one.
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Old 01-02-2002, 04:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by sv:

Secondly, I think many people don't quite understand what exactly the "aid" we provide is. We need to itemize here - it turns out that when you do, it's almost never true humanitarian assistance. "Aid" includes grants to governments and politicians that buy weapons (often from us) with the money, line their own pockets, develop death squads, and use the money to support initiatives that prevent fair treatment of the poor and of workers.
I think that's an important point. It's particularly relevant to aid from the IMF and World Bank. The IMF attaches strict conditions to any of its loans, designed to help the recipient country to strengthen its economy and so ensure it will be able to pay back the IMF (plus an enormous amount interest). These often include requiring the government to cut its minimal expenditure on healthcare, education, even provision of clean water and food for its citizens, which as you can imagine, has disastrous consequences for the people of that country.

Not to mention that they often specify what the loan has to be used for. More often than not it will be a "low-risk" project, giving extra security to the lender. Often it will also be a project which benefits overseas companies operating in the recipient country - ie investment in transport or communications. Obviously, those aren't the most pressing concerns for people who don't have access to education, healthcare, even safe drinking water.

Actually, a good example of this recently was the UK's decision to approve an export license for BAE (a British company) to sell a 28million air traffic control system to Tanzania. Tanzania has nine military aircraft. It also has millions of people who go to bed hungry each night. A World Bank sponsored report on the air traffic control system found it was completely inadequate for Tanzania's needs and would be extremely expensive to maintain and upgrade. Instead of encouraging Tanzania to spend the 28 million on healthcare or education for its citizens, the British government decided staying friendly with BAE was more important and so improved the export license.
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Old 01-02-2002, 05:33 PM   #8
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FizzingWhizzbees, the Tanzania example is a good one. And points out that it's not just the U.S. - many countries and the international lending community engage in this form of "aid-giving".
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