However, Carter’s biggest failure occurred in relation to Afghanistan, a blot on an otherwise deeply peace-seeking Presidency. A key figure in his administration was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor. Brzezinski’s Polish background left him deeply hostile towards the Soviets and in this role he advised Carter to try to get the Soviets embroiled in Afghanistan. This move is so important that we quote an interview Brzezinski gave in 1998, when he was full of himself and before 9/11 showed how disastrous this policy was to become.
Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
The verdict of history now would be a long way from Brzezinski’s triumphalism, because with divine irony Afghanistan has now become the United States’ second Vietnam. So this is where the 30 year militarisation of the Taliban really started, with the United States. The move was a “success”. The USSR did intervene. With Reagan the intervention grew bigger involving billions spent on weapons and training. A million rifles and other equipment were pumped in to the Taliban and after a protracted war, eventually the USSR withdrew. By then groups were trained in militarism and had forgotten other occupations. 9/11 took place, and the body bags come home to the United States and Britain, and we grieved our dead. As Jesus said, “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
That was Carter’s greatest failure, but he had already been weakened by the munitions industry, the military, the CIA and widespread disinformation, and the arms bonanza under Reagan and Thatcher was to take place.