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‘Charlie Wilson’s War’

How the CIA lynched Afghanistan - the first time


Published Jan 2, 2008 11:40 PM

The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” is no more truthful about Afghanistan than “Gone with the Wind” was about slavery.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy
Carter’s National Security Adviser,
inspects a gun during his trip to Khyber Pass,
Pakistan, February 1980.

The key character is Texas Congressperson Charles Wilson (Tom Hanks), who supposedly drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. Charlie is a sexual predator, harassing and exploiting women workers on his staff. He is shown dabbling in cocaine.

But he’s really a swell guy. From his Las Vegas hot tub, Charlie listens to Dan Rather claiming that Soviet planes were dropping toys rigged to maim children. This vicious lie, worthy of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, allegedly gets Wilson moving.

Wilson teams up with Pakistani dictator Zia ul-Haq to fight for “freedom.” Zia had hanged Benazir Bhutto’s father, Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979. Assisting Charlie is right-wing socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The movie claims that they had to fight do-nothings in the CIA and State Department in order to arm Afghan counterrevolutionaries.

This is a fantasy world, even for Hollywood. By 1981, Ronald Reagan was in the White House presiding over a $2 trillion arms build-up. He installed “Pershing II” nuclear missiles in Europe that could hit the Soviet Union in eight minutes.

Reagan backed contra terrorists against Nicaragua, invaded Grenada, and propped up death squad regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The U.S. Air Force bombed Tripoli, murdering Muammar Qaddhafi’s daughter, among others. Reagan supplied Israel’s bloody invasion of Lebanon. Mercenary wars were waged against Angola and Mozambique as Reagan sought to save South Africa’s anti-communist apartheid regime.

The biggest CIA campaign was against Afghanistan. The Democrat Charlie Wilson was just a cheerleader.

What really happened in Afghanistan

When the regime of Mohammad Daoud was overthrown in 1978, five percent of Afghanistan’s population owned over 45 percent of the land. Women could be murdered if found not to be virgins when they were wed.

Over 96 percent of women were illiterate as were the vast majority of men. A third of the people in the countryside care were sharecroppers or landless laborers.

Revolutionaries belonging to the People’s Democratic Party fought this oppression. They looked across the border in the Soviet Union where people in Central Asia had lived under similar conditions before the 1917 socialist revolution.

For 70 years the Soviet government carried out the biggest affirmative-action campaign in history, bringing schools and hospitals to the area. Industries were built and electricity came to the countryside. Nations that were imprisoned by the czar were now free to develop their own culture and literature.

This aid wasn’t a one-way street. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Red Army from the Central Asian Soviet Republics died fighting Hitler. Sabir O. Rakhimov—who was the first Uzbek to be made a general in the Soviet Army—died liberating Gdansk, Poland. Two million Uzbeks live in Afghanistan.

The first spark in Afghanistan’s revolution was the assassination of union leader Ahbar Haybar on April 17, 1978. Leaders of the People’s Democratic Party were imprisoned on April 26 for giving speeches at Hayber’s funeral. Within ten hours the Afghanistan army revolted and freed these political prisoners, using a tank to tear down the prison walls.

Decree number six of the revolution cancelled the debts of the poor in the countryside. A farmer in debt had to turn over half of their crop to the money lender.

Even a Pentagon study admitted, “The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens and instituted nurseries for orphans.” Textbooks were printed in the Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi languages.

By 1985 there had been an 80 percent increase in the number of hospital beds. Brigades of women and youths went to the countryside to bring medical care to peasants for the first time.

None of this was to the liking of the feudal landlords whose rule the revolution challenged. The landlords organized counterrevolutionary gangs to terrorize people just as the Ku Klux Klan did here after the U.S. Civil War in the 19th century. One of the landlords’ leaders was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who threw acid in the face of women not wearing a veil.

This Afghanistan Klan got support from President Jimmy “Human Rights” Carter. In a 1998 interview with the French weekly Nouvel Observatateur, Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski bragged that the CIA was already bankrolling the counterrevolutionaries by mid-1979.

It was in response to this CIA-backed campaign of violence that Soviet forces accepted the invitation of Afghanistan’s government to come to its aid on Dec. 24, 1979.

The CIA’s racist gangster

Much of the chemistry in the movie is between Charlie Wilson and Gust Avrakotos of the CIA. Avrakotos is a tough cookie who swears at a CIA official after being passed over for a job in Finland.

Actually he’s a super bigot. According to the book “Charlie Wilson’s War” by the late George Crile, Avrakotos loved to throw racial epithets in the face of his Black secretary and everybody else.

None of this fazes Crile, who was a producer for the CBS show “60 Minutes.” The CIA is just a racist cesspool.

Avrakotos urged the Greek colonels who staged a coup in 1967 to murder Andreas Papandreou, who survived and served later as Greece’s prime minister.

The son of a sweatshop boss bottling soda pop, Avrakotos grew up in the steel town of Aliquippa, Pa., near Pittsburgh. In his youth, Avrakotos joined white gangs attacking Black people.

If Hollywood were going to make a movie about a genuine hero in Western Pennsylvania, it could consider Black Communist Benjamin Careathers, whose ceaseless efforts organized workers at the Jones and Laughlin steel mill in Aliquippa into a union in 1937, and who was jailed in 1953 under the mind-controlling Smith Act for his political beliefs.

Don’t waste your money

“Charlie Wilson’s War” whips up the audience as Soviet helicopters are shot down with U.S. stinger missiles. Soviet pilots are shown as fiendish characters who love to kill, unlike U.S. pilots whose bombs and rockets ravaged Korea, Vietnam and Yugoslavia and which still ravage Iraq and Afghanistan.

The movie not only claims that Charlie Wilson is responsible for driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan but also that the Soviet Union collapsed as a result. This is turning history upside down. It was the gathering counterrevolution that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in early 1989.

Within three years of the Soviet withdrawal, the progressive Afghanistan government was overthrown. At least 50,000 people were killed in the capital of Kabul alone.

“Charlie Wilson’s War” is sexist anti-communist poison. Don’t waste your money on it. ν