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Charlie Wilson's Deadly Legacy
February 10, 2010
The death of former Rep. Charlie Wilson on Wednesday at the age of 76 will elicit recollections about his legendary support for the CIA’s covert aid to the Afghan mujahedeen in their battle against Soviet troops in the 1980s, a tale lionized in the movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
However, as important as those developments were – essentially merging the final chapter of the Cold War with the opening chapter of the War on Terror – Wilson’s activities have been distorted into a false narrative favored by the powers that be in Washington and popularized by the Hollywood version of the story.
The reality was far less heroic and much more short-sighted than portrayed in the Tom Hanks movie, as two articles from the Consortiumnews.com’s Archive explain: one by former CIA analyst Peter W. Dickson and another by foreign policy expert Bruce P. Cameron.
Dickson’s article, “Reagan’s Bargain/Charlie Wilson’s War,” examines the costly tradeoff that bought Pakistani support for the CIA’s Afghan operation by letting Pakistan develop a nuclear bomb, a development that continues to destabilize the region to this day.
Cameron’s article, “Why Afghanistan Really Fell Apart,” challenges the myth that the CIA covert operation ended as soon as the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989. In truth, President George H.W. Bush chose to continue the war in hopes of a total CIA victory, only to have the conflict pave the way for the rise of the Taliban on the road to 9/11.
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