The man whose adopted mission to save Afghanistan from the Soviet incursion in the 1980s spawned the notion of “Afghan freedom fighters,” a book and a Hollywood movie now says we need to get the hell out of Dodge.
In an interview with the Pennsylvania paper, Wilson said he advocates a “calculated withdrawal” of American troops from the country, “rather than lose a lot of soldiers and treasure.”
On the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and during the heated debate in Washington over whether President Obama should commit more American troops to the region, Wilson’s words are incredibly significant. While many have argued recently that the war is unwinnable because Afghanistan is one of the most indomitable countries on the planet, hearing a passionate defender of the Afghan peoples’ right to self-govern say we should pull out is starkly different from typical anti-war sentiment.
Wilson’s reasoning is that we cannot beat the people we are fighting in Afghanistan:
“I’d rather take on a chain saw,” Mr. Wilson said. “They’re the world’s best foot soldiers, best warriors. And they’re fearless.
“They’re fearless, and they’ve got nothing to lose. And they have a pretty serious hatred for those who try to occupy their country.”
The thing is, he should know. After using his seat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to funnel funding through the CIA to supply Soviet-made weaponry to the mujahideen, who fought alongside Osama bin Laden among others, both the lawmaker and the country rejoiced in withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country in 1989.
But Wilson doesn’t let himself or his government off the hook for their collective lack of investment in nation-building at the time. According to the article, Wilson credits the failure to set up Afghanistan with an adequate governing body as the reason for the 9/11 attacks and the past eight years of brutal fighting coalition troops have seen there:
“We (screwed) up the end game,” Mr. Wilson said. “It would have been very easy and done for a minuscule amount of money. We should have done the basic things for a backward country that’s trying to come out of (a war) and have a reasonable hope of economic success.”
The Times-Tribune interview comes ahead of a talk Wilson is scheduled to give Thursday at the Scranton Cultural Center, as part of the Lackawanna County Library System’s ongoing lecture series. Wilson, at age 76, has cut back on public appearances in recent years after a heart transplant.
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