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Charlie Wilson's War

Charlie Wilson war 

It is a good movie and I suggest you all go to see it.  I was particularly interested in it for a couple of particular reasons.  First of all, I started my career at the end of the Cold War; I joined the FS to help fight world communism and one of the first causes I publicized as a public affairs officer was the fight against the communists in Afghanistan. 

The end of the movie features a cautionary tale that is more relevant to me in this here and now spot. After helping the brave Afghans defeat the evil empire, we more or less walked away and largely ignored the place throughout the 1990s.   This abandoned the field to people like Osama bin Laden – the so-called Arab Afghans & their extremist local allies -  allowing them to claim that it was THEY who had won the victory, when their actual role in the fight against the Soviets was marginal at best.  Connecting my two historical strains, it was analogous to what the Bolsheviks did, showing up after others had done the heavy & dangerous work of overthrowing the Czar, convincing the world that they had done the deed and imposing their own obscene system on a devastated country.  

It is a tribute to the success of their nefarious propaganda that ninety years later most people still believe the Soviet version. The truth doesn’t always win out over the lies unless it has some powerful friends.  In any case, Afghanistan slipped back into chaos; the bad guys took over and made the country into a safe home base to terrorists with delusions of worldwide struggle, while we were lulled into a false sense of security and thought that the fall of the evil empire meant and end to history.

History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes and that is what makes it worthwhile to study the patterns.  In Iraq we are not making the same mistakes. After winning the military conflict, we are staying long enough to secure the peace; at least I hope we do.  And I am proud of the contributing small role my PRT is playing in that unfolding process.

Sorry for the second in a row preachy posting.  Maybe I am just drinking the Kool-Aid, but surrounded as I am be people committed to finishing the job in Iraq, all of them volunteers, I think it would be hard not to want to be part of the team. 

Tomorrow and the next day I have some interesting things planned.  I promise to write something on the lighter side next time.  So please forgive my pomposity and don’t desert my blog.  Consider this as sort of the commercials in the regularly scheduled programming.
And do go to see “Charlie Wilson’s War.”


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It is really cool reading this. Very insightful. I have a question. Do the Iraqis ever talk about the American elections? And if they do, what are their thoughts regarding the candidates?
-Cousin Elise's son,
John Matel

They do not talk much re American elections and we do not bring up the subject. Some haveasked if the Marines will be pulled out based on U.S. politics. They are afraid of this outcome and our friends are still afraid that they will be abandoned. They trust the Marines, who have done a great job of winning hearts and minds, but they are a little less trusting of the U.S. in general.. There is also a kind of a paradox. Most people seem to want to get back to running all their own affairs, but they do not want the Marines to leave - ever. One of our goals is transition, so we have to explain to them that when the Marines numbers are reduced, Iraqi security will be ready and able to take over.

Thanks for writing.

Very insightful. Keep 'em coming.

"One of our goals is transition, so we have to explain to them that when the Marines numbers are reduced, Iraqi security will be ready and able to take over. "

Is that really so? Some candidates are in favor of pulling out troops soon and if they win do you think they will care much about "Iraqi security will be ready" when ordering the troops home?

John respond

Those who advocate immediate pull outs are not up to date on developments here in Iraq. I hope they study the subject a little more and reconsider if/when they actually have to make decisions.