US FOREIGN POLICY FOR AFGHANISTAN
In his statements and speeches since Sept. 11, U.S. President George W. Bush has been carefulto distinguish the members of Osama bin Laden's
organization and the Taliban, fromthe people of Afghanistan and Muslims of the world.Still, with military action in Afghanistan expected soon, it is necessary to look hard atAfghanistan's past two decades of turmoil and seek to learn lessons from that past. And whilethere are many factors leading to the dismal situation of Afghanistan today, it also is the case thatmissteps in U.S. foreign policy are, in part, to blame. U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, Russia andthe region during the 1980s helped, at least indirectly, nurture the growth of anti-American andfundamentalist forces now controlling Kabul, and indeed, even some of the terrorists now beingsought by the United States for the Sept. 11 attacks against New York and Washington. In planning for intervention in Afghanistan now, the Bush administration must work hard to avoidthe mistakes of the past.
U.S Covert Operations in the Afghanistan War
With the 1979 invasion of Soviet troops into Afghanistan, the war between anti-communist rebelforces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government was well underway. The number of Soviettroops in Afghanistan reached 100,000 by early 1980. Anti-communist guerrilla forces, jointlycalled the
(Islamic warriors), actively fought both the Soviet troops and the pro-SovietAfghan government led by President Babrak Karmal.From the Soviet invasion onward, the United States sought ways to back the anti-Soviet forces.By 1983, the CIA was purchasing assault rifles, grenade launchers, mines, and SA-7 lightantiaircraft weapons, totaling 10,000 tons, mainly from China. The Reagan administration hadthem shipped to Pakistan, a country that at the time was working closely with Washington.Then, in a move that marked a turning point in the relentless war, in 1985, President RonaldReagan made a secret decision to escalate covert support to the
. Soon after, the CIA began to supply an extensive array of intelligence, military expertise and advanced weapons tothe Muslim rebel forces. They included satellite reconnaissance data of Soviet targets inAfghanistan; Soviet plans for military operations based on satellite intelligence and intercepts of Soviet communications; covert communication technology for the rebels; detonating devices for tons of C-4 explosives for urban targets; long-range sniper rifles; a targeting system linked to aU.S. Navy satellite; and wire-guided anti-tank missiles.
Furthermore, amidst intensifyingdebate within the CIA over the extent of U.S. involvement in the war, Reagan made the decisionto equip the
with sophisticated U.S.-made Stinger antiaircraft missiles. American-trained Pakistani officers were sent to Afghanistan to set up a secret
Stinger trainingfacility, which was complete with a U.S.-made electronic simulator. By 1987, the CIA wassending a steady supply of 65,000 tons of arms to the