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Second Thoughts on Charlie Wilson's War by Chalmers Johnson / Tom's Dispatch I have some personal knowledge of Congressmen like Charlie Wilson (D-2nd District, find discount bladder support dogs online Texas, find discount bladder support dogs online 1973-1996) because, find discount bladder support dogs online for close to twenty years, find discount bladder support dogs online my representative in the 50th Congressional District of California was Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, find discount bladder support dogs online now serving an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence for soliciting and receiving bribes from defense contractors. Find discount bladder support dogs online Wilson and Cunningham held exactly the same plummy committee assignments in the House of Representatives -- the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee plus the Intelligence Oversight Committee -- from which they could dole out large sums of public money with little or no input from their colleagues or constituents. Find discount bladder support dogs online Both men flagrantly abused their positions -- but with radically different consequences. Find discount bladder support dogs online Cunningham went to jail because he was too stupid to know how to game the system -- retire and become a lobbyist -- whereas Wilson received the Central Intelligence Agency Clandestine Service's first "honored colleague" award ever given to an outsider and went on to become a $360, find discount bladder support dogs online000 per annum lobbyist for Pakistan. Find discount bladder support dogs online In a secret ceremony at CIA headquarters on June 9, find discount bladder support dogs online 1993, find discount bladder support dogs online James Woolsey, find discount bladder support dogs online Bill Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence and one of the agency's least competent chiefs in its checkered history, find discount bladder support dogs online said: "The defeat and breakup of the Soviet empire is one of the great events of world history. Find discount bladder support dogs online There were many heroes in this battle, find discount bladder support dogs online but to Charlie Wilson must go a special recognition." One important part of that recognition, find discount bladder support dogs online studiously avoided by the CIA and most subsequent American writers on the subject, find discount bladder support dogs online is that Wilson's activities in Afghanistan led directly to a chain of blowback that culminated in the attacks of September 11, find discount bladder support dogs online 2001 and led to the United States' current status as the most hated nation on Earth. Find discount bladder support dogs online On May 25, find discount bladder support dogs online 2003, find discount bladder support dogs online (the same month George W. Find discount bladder support dogs online Bush stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Find discount bladder support dogs online Abraham Lincoln under a White-House-prepared "Mission Accomplished" banner and proclaimed "major combat operations" at an end in Iraq), find discount bladder support dogs online I published a review in the Los Angeles Times of the book that provides the data for the film Charlie Wilson's War. Find discount bladder support dogs online The original edition of the book carried the subtitle, find discount bladder support dogs online "The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History -- the Arming of the Mujahideen." The 2007 paperbound edition was subtitled, find discount bladder support dogs online "The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times." Neither the claim that the Afghan operations were covert nor that they changed history is precisely true. Find discount bladder support dogs online In my review of the book, find discount bladder support dogs online I wrote, find discount bladder support dogs online

"The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every 'secret' armed intervention it ever undertook. Find discount bladder support dogs online From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the rape of Guatemala in 1954, find discount bladder support dogs online the Bay of Pigs, find discount bladder support dogs online the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, find discount bladder support dogs online the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, find discount bladder support dogs online the 'secret war' in Laos, find discount bladder support dogs online aid to the Greek Colonels who seized power in 1967, find discount bladder support dogs online the 1973 killing of President Allende in Chile, find discount bladder support dogs online and Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra war against Nicaragua, find discount bladder support dogs online there is not a single instance in which the Agency's activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States and devastating to the people being 'liberated.' The CIA continues to get away with this bungling primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its Constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Find discount bladder support dogs online Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest. Find discount bladder support dogs online "According to the author of Charlie Wilson's War, find discount bladder support dogs online the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan mujahideen ("freedom fighters"). Find discount bladder support dogs online The Agency flooded Afghanistan with an incredible array of extremely dangerous weapons and 'unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower [in this case, find discount bladder support dogs online the USSR].' "The author of this glowing account, find discount bladder support dogs online [the late] George Crile, find discount bladder support dogs online was a veteran producer for the CBS television news show '60 Minutes' and an exuberant Tom Clancy-type enthusiast for the Afghan caper. Find discount bladder support dogs online He argues that the U.S.'s clandestine involvement in Afghanistan was 'the largest and most successful CIA operation in history, find discount bladder support dogs online' 'the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time, find discount bladder support dogs online' and that 'there was nothing so romantic and exciting as this war against the Evil Empire.' Crile's sole measure of success is killed Soviet soldiers (about 15, find discount bladder support dogs online000), find discount bladder support dogs online which undermined Soviet morale and contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the period 1989 to 1991. Find discount bladder support dogs online That's the successful part. Find discount bladder support dogs online "However, find discount bladder support dogs online he never once mentions that the 'tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists' the CIA armed are the same people who in 1996 killed nineteen American airmen at Dhahran, find discount bladder support dogs online Saudi Arabia, find discount bladder support dogs online bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, find discount bladder support dogs online blew a hole in the side of the U.S.S. Find discount bladder support dogs online Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, find discount bladder support dogs online and on September 11, find discount bladder support dogs online 2001, find discount bladder support dogs online flew hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon."
Where Did the "Freedom Fighters" Go? When I wrote those words I did not know (and could not have imagined) that the actor Tom Hanks had already purchased the rights to the book to make into a film in which he would star as Charlie Wilson, find discount bladder support dogs online with Julia Roberts as his right-wing Texas girlfriend Joanne Herring, find discount bladder support dogs online and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, find discount bladder support dogs online the thuggish CIA operative who helped pull off this caper. Find discount bladder support dogs online What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)? It makes the U.S. Find discount bladder support dogs online government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, find discount bladder support dogs online drunken sleazebags, find discount bladder support dogs online so in that sense it's accurate enough. Find discount bladder support dogs online But there are a number of things both the book and the film are suppressing. Find discount bladder support dogs online As I noted in 2003, find discount bladder support dogs online
"For the CIA legally to carry out a covert action, find discount bladder support dogs online the president must sign off on -- that is, find discount bladder support dogs online authorize -- a document called a 'finding.' Crile repeatedly says that President Carter signed such a finding ordering the CIA to provide covert backing to the mujahideen after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, find discount bladder support dogs online 1979. Find discount bladder support dogs online The truth of the matter is that Carter signed the finding on July 3, find discount bladder support dogs online 1979, find discount bladder support dogs online six months before the Soviet invasion, find discount bladder support dogs online and he did so on the advice of his national security adviser, find discount bladder support dogs online Zbigniew Brzezinski, find discount bladder support dogs online in order to try to provoke a Russian incursion. Find discount bladder support dogs online Brzezinski has confirmed this sequence of events in an interview with a French newspaper, find discount bladder support dogs online and former CIA Director [today Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates says so explicitly in his 1996 memoirs. Find discount bladder support dogs online It may surprise Charlie Wilson to learn that his heroic mujahideen were manipulated by Washington like so much cannon fodder in order to give the USSR its own Vietnam. Find discount bladder support dogs online The mujahideen did the job but as subsequent events have made clear, find discount bladder support dogs online they may not be all that grateful to the United States."
In the bound galleys of Crile's book, find discount bladder support dogs online which his publisher sent to reviewers before publication, find discount bladder support dogs online there was no mention of any qualifications to his portrait of Wilson as a hero and a patriot. Find discount bladder support dogs online Only in an "epilogue" added to the printed book did Crile quote Wilson as saying, find discount bladder support dogs online "These things happened. Find discount bladder support dogs online They were glorious and they changed the world. Find discount bladder support dogs online And the people who deserved the credit are the ones who made the sacrifice. Find discount bladder support dogs online And then we fucked up the endgame." That's it. Find discount bladder support dogs online Full stop. Find discount bladder support dogs online Director Mike Nichols, find discount bladder support dogs online too, find discount bladder support dogs online ends his movie with Wilson's final sentence emblazoned across the screen. Find discount bladder support dogs online And then the credits roll. Find discount bladder support dogs online Neither a reader of Crile, find discount bladder support dogs online nor a viewer of the film based on his book would know that, find discount bladder support dogs online in talking about the Afghan freedom fighters of the 1980s, find discount bladder support dogs online we are also talking about the militants of al Qaeda and the Taliban of the 1990s and 2000s. Find discount bladder support dogs online Amid all the hoopla about Wilson's going out of channels to engineer secret appropriations of millions of dollars to the guerrillas, find discount bladder support dogs online the reader or viewer would never suspect that, find discount bladder support dogs online when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, find discount bladder support dogs online President George H.W. Find discount bladder support dogs online Bush promptly lost interest in the place and simply walked away, find discount bladder support dogs online leaving it to descend into one of the most horrific civil wars of modern times. Find discount bladder support dogs online Among those supporting the Afghans (in addition to the U.S.) was the rich, find discount bladder support dogs online pious Saudi Arabian economist and civil engineer, find discount bladder support dogs online Osama bin Laden, find discount bladder support dogs online whom we helped by building up his al Qaeda base at Khost. Find discount bladder support dogs online When bin Laden and his colleagues decided to get even with us for having been used, find discount bladder support dogs online he had the support of much of the Islamic world. Find discount bladder support dogs online This disaster was brought about by Wilson's and the CIA's incompetence as well as their subversion of all the normal channels of political oversight and democratic accountability within the U.S. Find discount bladder support dogs online government. Find discount bladder support dogs online Charlie Wilson's war thus turned out to have been just another bloody skirmish in the expansion and consolidation of the American empire -- and an imperial presidency. Find discount bladder support dogs online The victors were the military-industrial complex and our massive standing armies. Find discount bladder support dogs online The billion dollars' worth of weapons Wilson secretly supplied to the guerrillas ended up being turned on ourselves. Find discount bladder support dogs online An Imperialist Comedy Which brings us back to the movie and its reception here. Find discount bladder support dogs online (It has been banned in Afghanistan.) One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. Find discount bladder support dogs online They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, find discount bladder support dogs online the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), find discount bladder support dogs online the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, find discount bladder support dogs online beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world." Such attitudes are normally accompanied by a racist ideology that proclaims the intrinsic superiority and right to rule of "white" Caucasians. Find discount bladder support dogs online Innumerable European colonialists saw the hand of God in Darwin's discovery of evolution, find discount bladder support dogs online so long as it was understood that He had programmed the outcome of evolution in favor of late Victorian Englishmen. Find discount bladder support dogs online (For an excellent short book on this subject, find discount bladder support dogs online check out Sven Lindquist's "Exterminate All the Brutes.") When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes, find discount bladder support dogs online such as those well known to anyone paying attention to Afghanistan since about 1990, find discount bladder support dogs online then ideological thinking kicks in. Find discount bladder support dogs online The horror story is suppressed, find discount bladder support dogs online or reinterpreted as something benign or ridiculous (a "comedy"), find discount bladder support dogs online or simply curtailed before the denouement becomes obvious. Find discount bladder support dogs online Thus, find discount bladder support dogs online for example, find discount bladder support dogs online Melissa Roddy, find discount bladder support dogs online a Los Angeles film-maker with inside information from the Charlie Wilson production team, find discount bladder support dogs online notes that the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, find discount bladder support dogs online a co-producer as well as the leading actor, find discount bladder support dogs online "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing." Similarly, find discount bladder support dogs online we are told by another insider reviewer, find discount bladder support dogs online James Rocchi, find discount bladder support dogs online that the scenario, find discount bladder support dogs online as originally written by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame, find discount bladder support dogs online included the following line for Avrakotos: "Remember I said this: There's going to be a day when we're gonna look back and say 'I'd give anything if [Afghanistan] were overrun with Godless communists'." This line is nowhere to be found in the final film. Find discount bladder support dogs online Today there is ample evidence that, find discount bladder support dogs online when it comes to the freedom of women, find discount bladder support dogs online education levels, find discount bladder support dogs online governmental services, find discount bladder support dogs online relations among different ethnic groups, find discount bladder support dogs online and quality of life -- all were infinitely better under the Afghan communists than under the Taliban or the present government of President Hamid Karzai, find discount bladder support dogs online which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, find discount bladder support dogs online Kabul. Find discount bladder support dogs online But Americans don't want to know that -- and certainly they get no indication of it from Charlie Wilson's War, find discount bladder support dogs online either the book or the film. Find discount bladder support dogs online The tendency of imperialism to rot the brains of imperialists is particularly on display in the recent spate of articles and reviews in mainstream American newspapers about the film. Find discount bladder support dogs online For reasons not entirely clear, find discount bladder support dogs online an overwhelming majority of reviewers concluded that Charlie Wilson's War is a "feel-good comedy" (Lou Lumenick in the New York Post), find discount bladder support dogs online a "high-living, find discount bladder support dogs online hard-partying jihad" (A.O. Find discount bladder support dogs online Scott in the New York Times), find discount bladder support dogs online "a sharp-edged, find discount bladder support dogs online wickedly funny comedy" (Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times). Find discount bladder support dogs online Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post wrote of "Mike Nichols's laff-a-minute chronicle of the congressman's crusade to ram funding through the House Appropriations Committee to supply arms to the Afghan mujahideen"; while, find discount bladder support dogs online in a piece entitled "Sex! Drugs! (and Maybe a Little War), find discount bladder support dogs online" Richard L. Find discount bladder support dogs online Berke in the New York Times offered this stamp of approval: "You can make a movie that is relevant and intelligent -- and palatable to a mass audience -- if its political pills are sugar-coated." When I saw the film, find discount bladder support dogs online there was only a guffaw or two from the audience over the raunchy sex and sexism of "good-time Charlie, find discount bladder support dogs online" but certainly no laff-a-minute. Find discount bladder support dogs online The root of this approach to the film probably lies with Tom Hanks himself, find discount bladder support dogs online who, find discount bladder support dogs online according to Berke, find discount bladder support dogs online called it "a serious comedy." A few reviews qualified their endorsement of Charlie Wilson's War, find discount bladder support dogs online but still came down on the side of good old American fun. Find discount bladder support dogs online Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail, find discount bladder support dogs online for instance, find discount bladder support dogs online thought that it was "best to enjoy Charlie Wilson's War as a thoroughly engaging comedy. Find discount bladder support dogs online Just don't think about it too much or you may choke on your popcorn." Peter Rainer noted in the Christian Science Monitor that the "Comedic Charlie Wilson's War has a tragic punch line." These reviewers were thundering along with the herd while still trying to maintain a bit of self-respect. Find discount bladder support dogs online The handful of truly critical reviews have come mostly from blogs and little-known Hollywood fanzines -- with one major exception, find discount bladder support dogs online Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. Find discount bladder support dogs online In an essay subtitled "'Charlie Wilson's War' celebrates events that came back to haunt Americans, find discount bladder support dogs online" Turan called the film "an unintentionally sobering narrative of American shouldn't-have" and added that it was "glib rather than witty, find discount bladder support dogs online one of those films that comes off as being more pleased with itself than it has a right to be." My own view is that if Charlie Wilson's War is a comedy, find discount bladder support dogs online it's the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Find discount bladder support dogs online Simply put, find discount bladder support dogs online it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, find discount bladder support dogs online such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. Find discount bladder support dogs online The most accurate review so far is James Rocchi's summing-up for Cinematical: "Charlie Wilson's War isn't just bad history; it feels even more malign, find discount bladder support dogs online like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia." Chalmers Johnson is the author of the Blowback Trilogy -- Blowback (2000), find discount bladder support dogs online The Sorrows of Empire (2004), find discount bladder support dogs online and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (paperbound edition, find discount bladder support dogs online January 2008). link to the article: http://tomdispatch.com/post/174877/chalmers_johnson_an_imperialist_comedy