Tuesday, January 06, 2009

LETTERS/CRIKEY: Exchange of correspondence on Afghanistan and Charlie Wilson's war ...


Some readers might recall a piece I wrote for Crikey last December (reproduced here) about the continuing conflict in Afghanistan and its historical context.

One Crikey reader, Niall Clugston, responded to that piece on 5 January 2009 as follows:

Re: Charlie Wilson's Afghan f*ck-up (19 December). Irfan Yusuf seems to admire Charlie Wilson's War but doesn't seem to recognise the movie as a masterpiece of unconscious irony, including an uncanny prediction of the Bhutto assassination. Bizarrely enough, the movie proceeds as if September 11 never happened and never mentions Osama bin Laden. And, no, I don't think the result of scrupulous historical accuracy by Hollywood! Yusuf approvingly quotes the movie's conclusion. Never mind that it asserts that the "crazies" only arrived after the well-meaning Americans left. Why can't we just be told the truth?
My response to Niall's letter, published in Crikey on 6 January 2008, is as follows:

Niall Clugston "Comments" claims that Congressman Charlie Wilson suggested that the crazies "only arrived after the well-meaning Americans left". I'm not so sure about that. And even if he did claim this, the fact is that the Afghan mujahideen and their supporters consisted of some pretty crazy people. I suggest he might consult Peter Bergen's oral history of Osama bin Laden, especially the sections where Bergen deals with bin-Laden's Arab faction and his dealings with Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. He might also do some research on the inter-factional wars that took place after the Soviets withdrew and before the Taleban took charge. Some of these crazies occupy seats in the current Afghanistan Parliament and are even ministers in the Karzai government. There are no clear goodies and badies in this war -- just lots of crazies.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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