Recently I have been hearing a certain volume of complaints about our actions regarding Afghanistan when we were financing their freedom fighters to oust the Soviet Union. (My apologies to certain other readers...I have gotten complaints on my posts that involve communists) Word on the street is that we (America) inadvertantly and quite stupidly created the Taliban even as we destroyed the USSR. Which in some people's opinion was no improvement for us.
Well, it wasn't much of an improvement for the Afghans, that's for sure. But it was an improvement for our country and most of Eastern Europe (well. let's admit it. the world) Defeating the Soviet Union was an objective that lay in the best interest of every man, woman, and child on the planet. The Taliban and Osama bin Laden presented a threat to human dignity too, within their region. But what frustrates me is that the money we sent to Afghanistan was primarily to the fine looking fellow you see above, not to Osama bin Chicken. Yes, chicken. The man never went so far as to throw a rock at the sky when Sputnik raced overhead. He had no problem posing next to tanks said fine looking fellow (Ahmad Shah Masoud) blew up. But we sent our funds to Masoud and continued to do so after the Taliban filled the power void. His Northern Alliance was pro-American and rather helpful before, during, and after we invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
What's more, Americans who went to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan often underwent a religious conversion. Accompanying men who fearlessly chase helicopters on foot, firing RPG's and yelling "Allahu Ackbar" must be quite the experience. They didn't convert to Islam, either; just rediscovered their Christian (often Catholic) past in the company of these on fire Muslims. Which is why I think the Afghanistan campaign was so important. Besides the stirring effect of defeating the Soviets for the first time in decades (as an actor, Reagan no doubt recognized the necessity of this dramtic action), that war united Muslims and Christians in a common war against the atheistic Communists. We finally had reason to unite: our shared belief in one God.
In today's climate of intense Islamic hostility towards Christians, Jews, Americans-well...anything that isn't Muslim and moves-I see fewer and fewer reasons to disparage our involvement there and more and more reasons to bring it back up and remember it. Masoud is, lamentably, dead, but I do think it's possible that another Islamic leader may be motivated as he was and ally (truly ally, not Saudi style) himself with America even though popular opinion is against it. Who knows. Stranger things have happened.