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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, order discount metoclopramide online Texas, order discount metoclopramide online 1973-1996) because, order discount metoclopramide online for close to twenty years, order discount metoclopramide online my representative in the 50th Congressional District of California was Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, order discount metoclopramide online now serving an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence for soliciting and receiving bribes from defense contractors. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online Both men flagrantly abused their positions -- but with radically different consequences. Order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online000 per annum lobbyist for Pakistan. Order discount metoclopramide online In a secret ceremony at CIA headquarters on June 9, order discount metoclopramide online 1993, order discount metoclopramide online James Woolsey, order discount metoclopramide online Bill Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence and one of the agency's least competent chiefs in its checkered history, order discount metoclopramide online said: "The defeat and breakup of the Soviet empire is one of the great events of world history. Order discount metoclopramide online There were many heroes in this battle, order discount metoclopramide online but to Charlie Wilson must go a special recognition." One important part of that recognition, order discount metoclopramide online studiously avoided by the CIA and most subsequent American writers on the subject, order discount metoclopramide online is that Wilson's activities in Afghanistan led directly to a chain of blowback that culminated in the attacks of September 11, order discount metoclopramide online 2001 and led to the United States' current status as the most hated nation on Earth. Order discount metoclopramide online On May 25, order discount metoclopramide online 2003, order discount metoclopramide online (the same month George W. Order discount metoclopramide online Bush stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Order discount metoclopramide online Abraham Lincoln under a White-House-prepared "Mission Accomplished" banner and proclaimed "major combat operations" at an end in Iraq), order discount metoclopramide online I published a review in the Los Angeles Times of the book that provides the data for the film Charlie Wilson's War. Order discount metoclopramide online The original edition of the book carried the subtitle, order discount metoclopramide online "The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History -- the Arming of the Mujahideen." The 2007 paperbound edition was subtitled, order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online In my review of the book, order discount metoclopramide online I wrote, order discount metoclopramide online

"The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every 'secret' armed intervention it ever undertook. Order discount metoclopramide online From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the rape of Guatemala in 1954, order discount metoclopramide online the Bay of Pigs, order discount metoclopramide online the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, order discount metoclopramide online the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, order discount metoclopramide online the 'secret war' in Laos, order discount metoclopramide online aid to the Greek Colonels who seized power in 1967, order discount metoclopramide online the 1973 killing of President Allende in Chile, order discount metoclopramide online and Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra war against Nicaragua, order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest. Order discount metoclopramide online "According to the author of Charlie Wilson's War, order discount metoclopramide online the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan mujahideen ("freedom fighters"). Order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online the USSR].' "The author of this glowing account, order discount metoclopramide online [the late] George Crile, order discount metoclopramide online was a veteran producer for the CBS television news show '60 Minutes' and an exuberant Tom Clancy-type enthusiast for the Afghan caper. Order discount metoclopramide online He argues that the U.S.'s clandestine involvement in Afghanistan was 'the largest and most successful CIA operation in history, order discount metoclopramide online' 'the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online000), order discount metoclopramide online which undermined Soviet morale and contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the period 1989 to 1991. Order discount metoclopramide online That's the successful part. Order discount metoclopramide online "However, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online Saudi Arabia, order discount metoclopramide online bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, order discount metoclopramide online blew a hole in the side of the U.S.S. Order discount metoclopramide online Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, order discount metoclopramide online and on September 11, order discount metoclopramide online 2001, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online with Julia Roberts as his right-wing Texas girlfriend Joanne Herring, order discount metoclopramide online and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, order discount metoclopramide online the thuggish CIA operative who helped pull off this caper. Order discount metoclopramide online What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)? It makes the U.S. Order discount metoclopramide online government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, order discount metoclopramide online drunken sleazebags, order discount metoclopramide online so in that sense it's accurate enough. Order discount metoclopramide online But there are a number of things both the book and the film are suppressing. Order discount metoclopramide online As I noted in 2003, order discount metoclopramide online
"For the CIA legally to carry out a covert action, order discount metoclopramide online the president must sign off on -- that is, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online 1979. Order discount metoclopramide online The truth of the matter is that Carter signed the finding on July 3, order discount metoclopramide online 1979, order discount metoclopramide online six months before the Soviet invasion, order discount metoclopramide online and he did so on the advice of his national security adviser, order discount metoclopramide online Zbigniew Brzezinski, order discount metoclopramide online in order to try to provoke a Russian incursion. Order discount metoclopramide online Brzezinski has confirmed this sequence of events in an interview with a French newspaper, order discount metoclopramide online and former CIA Director [today Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates says so explicitly in his 1996 memoirs. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online The mujahideen did the job but as subsequent events have made clear, order discount metoclopramide online they may not be all that grateful to the United States."
In the bound galleys of Crile's book, order discount metoclopramide online which his publisher sent to reviewers before publication, order discount metoclopramide online there was no mention of any qualifications to his portrait of Wilson as a hero and a patriot. Order discount metoclopramide online Only in an "epilogue" added to the printed book did Crile quote Wilson as saying, order discount metoclopramide online "These things happened. Order discount metoclopramide online They were glorious and they changed the world. Order discount metoclopramide online And the people who deserved the credit are the ones who made the sacrifice. Order discount metoclopramide online And then we fucked up the endgame." That's it. Order discount metoclopramide online Full stop. Order discount metoclopramide online Director Mike Nichols, order discount metoclopramide online too, order discount metoclopramide online ends his movie with Wilson's final sentence emblazoned across the screen. Order discount metoclopramide online And then the credits roll. Order discount metoclopramide online Neither a reader of Crile, order discount metoclopramide online nor a viewer of the film based on his book would know that, order discount metoclopramide online in talking about the Afghan freedom fighters of the 1980s, order discount metoclopramide online we are also talking about the militants of al Qaeda and the Taliban of the 1990s and 2000s. Order discount metoclopramide online Amid all the hoopla about Wilson's going out of channels to engineer secret appropriations of millions of dollars to the guerrillas, order discount metoclopramide online the reader or viewer would never suspect that, order discount metoclopramide online when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, order discount metoclopramide online President George H.W. Order discount metoclopramide online Bush promptly lost interest in the place and simply walked away, order discount metoclopramide online leaving it to descend into one of the most horrific civil wars of modern times. Order discount metoclopramide online Among those supporting the Afghans (in addition to the U.S.) was the rich, order discount metoclopramide online pious Saudi Arabian economist and civil engineer, order discount metoclopramide online Osama bin Laden, order discount metoclopramide online whom we helped by building up his al Qaeda base at Khost. Order discount metoclopramide online When bin Laden and his colleagues decided to get even with us for having been used, order discount metoclopramide online he had the support of much of the Islamic world. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online government. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online The victors were the military-industrial complex and our massive standing armies. Order discount metoclopramide online The billion dollars' worth of weapons Wilson secretly supplied to the guerrillas ended up being turned on ourselves. Order discount metoclopramide online An Imperialist Comedy Which brings us back to the movie and its reception here. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, order discount metoclopramide online the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), order discount metoclopramide online the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online Innumerable European colonialists saw the hand of God in Darwin's discovery of evolution, order discount metoclopramide online so long as it was understood that He had programmed the outcome of evolution in favor of late Victorian Englishmen. Order discount metoclopramide online (For an excellent short book on this subject, order discount metoclopramide online check out Sven Lindquist's "Exterminate All the Brutes.") When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes, order discount metoclopramide online such as those well known to anyone paying attention to Afghanistan since about 1990, order discount metoclopramide online then ideological thinking kicks in. Order discount metoclopramide online The horror story is suppressed, order discount metoclopramide online or reinterpreted as something benign or ridiculous (a "comedy"), order discount metoclopramide online or simply curtailed before the denouement becomes obvious. Order discount metoclopramide online Thus, order discount metoclopramide online for example, order discount metoclopramide online Melissa Roddy, order discount metoclopramide online a Los Angeles film-maker with inside information from the Charlie Wilson production team, order discount metoclopramide online notes that the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, order discount metoclopramide online a co-producer as well as the leading actor, order discount metoclopramide online "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing." Similarly, order discount metoclopramide online we are told by another insider reviewer, order discount metoclopramide online James Rocchi, order discount metoclopramide online that the scenario, order discount metoclopramide online as originally written by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame, order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online Today there is ample evidence that, order discount metoclopramide online when it comes to the freedom of women, order discount metoclopramide online education levels, order discount metoclopramide online governmental services, order discount metoclopramide online relations among different ethnic groups, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, order discount metoclopramide online Kabul. Order discount metoclopramide online But Americans don't want to know that -- and certainly they get no indication of it from Charlie Wilson's War, order discount metoclopramide online either the book or the film. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online For reasons not entirely clear, order discount metoclopramide online an overwhelming majority of reviewers concluded that Charlie Wilson's War is a "feel-good comedy" (Lou Lumenick in the New York Post), order discount metoclopramide online a "high-living, order discount metoclopramide online hard-partying jihad" (A.O. Order discount metoclopramide online Scott in the New York Times), order discount metoclopramide online "a sharp-edged, order discount metoclopramide online wickedly funny comedy" (Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times). Order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online in a piece entitled "Sex! Drugs! (and Maybe a Little War), order discount metoclopramide online" Richard L. Order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online there was only a guffaw or two from the audience over the raunchy sex and sexism of "good-time Charlie, order discount metoclopramide online" but certainly no laff-a-minute. Order discount metoclopramide online The root of this approach to the film probably lies with Tom Hanks himself, order discount metoclopramide online who, order discount metoclopramide online according to Berke, order discount metoclopramide online called it "a serious comedy." A few reviews qualified their endorsement of Charlie Wilson's War, order discount metoclopramide online but still came down on the side of good old American fun. Order discount metoclopramide online Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail, order discount metoclopramide online for instance, order discount metoclopramide online thought that it was "best to enjoy Charlie Wilson's War as a thoroughly engaging comedy. Order discount metoclopramide 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. Order discount metoclopramide online The handful of truly critical reviews have come mostly from blogs and little-known Hollywood fanzines -- with one major exception, order discount metoclopramide online Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. Order discount metoclopramide online In an essay subtitled "'Charlie Wilson's War' celebrates events that came back to haunt Americans, order discount metoclopramide online" Turan called the film "an unintentionally sobering narrative of American shouldn't-have" and added that it was "glib rather than witty, order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online it's the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Order discount metoclopramide online Simply put, order discount metoclopramide online it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, order discount metoclopramide online such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. Order discount metoclopramide 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, order discount metoclopramide online like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia." Chalmers Johnson is the author of the Blowback Trilogy -- Blowback (2000), order discount metoclopramide online The Sorrows of Empire (2004), order discount metoclopramide online and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (paperbound edition, order discount metoclopramide online January 2008). link to the article: http://tomdispatch.com/post/174877/chalmers_johnson_an_imperialist_comedy