23 Feb 2010

Zbigniew Brzezinski: How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahadeen

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If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was a conspiracy theory involving high-ranking US government officials, so it can’t possibly be right… But anyway check out this amazing 1998 interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski that Brad DeLong dug up:

Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

* There are at least two editions of this magazine; with the perhaps sole exception of the Library of Congress, the version sent to the United States is shorter than the French version, and the Brzezinski interview was not included in the shorter version.

I am quite sure that if some “nutjob” posited this theory in 1980, he would be denounced as a paranoid pinko: “Yeah right, as if the US provoked the Soviet Union. Do you believe everything the Russkies tell you? I’m sure. Next you’ll be telling me the Soviets felt threatened with all those nuclear warheads pointed at them. Like the US would ever nuke people. That’s something Iranians would do, not us. We’re the good guys.”

24 Responses to “Zbigniew Brzezinski: How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahadeen”

  1. Al-girta says:

    This is general knowledge but perhaps not inside the US. Operation Cyclone

    The US and the West generally had to fight the Cold War using proxies. (the so called Cold War killed 100 million)

    One these proxies morphed into Al-Qaeda. Ho-hum.

  2. Beefcake the Mighty says:

    This is old news, Bob (not sure why the horrendous deLong is posting it now; he probably thinks it embarrasses right-wngers in some way). Didn't you read antiwar.com back in '01?

  3. fundamentalist says:

    That's truly disgusting. The deaths caused by the Soviet invasion and long war mean nothing to him. And the arrogance is unbelievable! Even for a politician. The Afghan war did not cause the collapse of the Soviet Union. Only an ignoramus would claim that!

    Still, we need to separate Al Qaeda from the Mujahedeen. The two had almost nothing to do with each other. Bin Laden and his thugs played no important role in the Afghan struggle against the Soviets. And Al Qaeda is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded shortly after WWI to reinstate the Muslim Caliphate.

  4. David R. Henderson says:

    Hey, guys, give Bob and Brad a break. I knew about this too and quoted it in antiwar speech at UC Berkeley. But "old news" tends to be forgotten news. And this one is worth raising again and again.

  5. Beefcake the Mighty says:

    "Hey, guys, give Bob and Brad a break"

    I'm willing to give Bob a break (I am his #1 fan, after all), but deLong? What the hell is wrong with you?

  6. BadTux says:

    I notice that Brzezinski has been notoriously silent on how his bad advice to the Shah of Iran led to the Iranian Revolution, and how his interactions with the Revolutionary government in the aftermath led to a hardening of Iranian attitudes towards the USA beyond even what would have normally occurred given the USA's support for the Shah. Brzezinski loves this selective telling of history. The fact that he was right about one thing doesn't make him anything more than the vile venal toad that he ever was, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  7. jesse says:

    The Real News – The Afghan war and the 'Grand Chessboard' Pt2 – Paul Jay interviews Zbig

    Brzezinksi says the US funded the Mujahideen, but only supplied weapons AFTER the 'formal' Soviet invasion. Robert Gates was around for these high-level policy decisions back-then too.

  8. TGGP says:

    The future leaders of al Qaeda were not being supported by the U.S. There were plenty of Afghans in the area, no need for the CIA & ISI to bother with the "Afghan-Arabs". Most Afghans found that bunch a nuisance. The MEK was funded by Saudis. One possible link is that Saudi Arabia agreed to match the spending of the U.S in Afghanistan, but I'm not sure if Osama's group was funded by the Saudi government rather than independently (as it is today). Osama was already rich and could have provided funds for his small group. Ayman al-Zawahiri discusses the issue in his book "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner".

  9. Anonymous says:

    Was it supposed to be unknown or even denied by anyone that government conduct some of their foreign policy secretly?

  10. Gene Callahan says:

    I have another good one for you: I've learned that in 1944, the governments of the US, the UK, and Canada secretly conspired to invade France! They even kept the date and location secret from their own troops.

    If the American people ever discover that our government makes secret plans during wartime, the anarchist revolution will be well underway.

  11. Rock n Roll Nigger says:

    Wait, I'm confused about something; why, exactly, does Gene Callahn think he's so witty? He's just delusional, right?

  12. Gene Callahan says:

    Yes, the idea that the US, the UK, and Canada conspired to invade France is just a delusion I'm suffering from — please excuse me.

  13. Rock n Roll Nigger says:

    No, Gene, I'm not talking about that; I'm talking about the fact that you seem to really think you're funny, and, well, you're not. Not even remotely. Yet you persist at it.

    How's life in your own little world there?

  14. Gene Callahan says:

    How's life in your little world where "Rock n Roll Nigger" is a "cute" name to use for commenting?

    It's funny how Lew Rockwell used to publish dozens of humour pieces by me — several in collaboration with Bob — that I kept getting e-mails from his readers as to how they were HILARIOUS! But suddenly, now that I'm not saying what they want to hear politically, I'm not even REMOTELY funny. Wow, it's remarkable how evolving political views can destroy one's sense of humour like that.

  15. Rock n Roll Nigger says:

    Gene, for what it's worth, I've ALWAYS thought you were a pain in the ass, regardless of how the LvMI/LRC gang viewed you.

  16. Gene Callahan says:

    Yes, Mr. Nigger, both your cowering behind a veil of anonymity and your very offensive commentator name make me just oh so concerned about what opinion you have held of me!

    Oh, please, please like me you cowardly, racist ignoramus, because my whole self-image depends on how cowardly, racist ignoramuses evaluate me!

  17. Rock n Roll Nigger says:

    I'm pretty sure you don't care what anyone thinks about you, Gene, since you've done nothing for the last 10 years but throw out bad analogies and metaphors in place of real argument. Surely some people, even sympathizers, have tried to set you straight here, but obviously to no avail. I'd say you have mental problems, quite frankly.

    BTW, I guess you've never heard of the song after which my name is taken? Thought you were hipper than that. Guess not.

  18. Gene Callahan says:

    Suuure, Mr. Nigger. What award winning books have you published in the last ten years? What academic journals have you published in? Of course, as you're a coward posting anonymously, you'll probably tell us that you wrote Guns, Germs, and Steel and have three PhDs from top institutions. But I doubt you've done anything of any importance to anyone at all. As typical, those without any accomplishments get their "joy" from cutting down those who have done something.

  19. BadTux says:

    Mr. Callahan, the proper response to trolls is to ignore them.

    – Badtux the Helpful Penguin

  20. Gene Callahan says:

    Yes, Badtux, I know, I know! It's why I have withdrawn from most of my e-mail lists — I have a response addiction!

  21. Bag of Gonads says:

    "What award winning books have you published in the last ten years?"

    What award did Economics for Real People win? Book most likely to convince serious thinkers that Austrian economics is shallow to the core? Frankly, you should kiss Jeff Tucker's feet for continuing to sell that thing.