The Lie Behind the Afghan War
Exclusive: A recurring refrain about the Afghan War is that the United States must stay for the long haul now to avoid repeating the “mistake” made in 1989 when Soviet forces left and Americans supposedly disappeared, too. But this conventional wisdom, spread by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others, is a lie, Robert Parry writes.
By Robert Parry
June 24, 2011
In Official Washington, there’s one “fact” about the Afghan War that nearly everyone “knows”: In February 1989, after the Soviet army left Afghanistan, the United States walked away from the war-torn country, creating a vacuum that led to the rise of the Taliban and its readiness to host al-Qaeda’s anti-American terrorists.
It is a point made by senior administration officials, including incoming Ambassador Ryan Crocker and departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who once summed up the conventional wisdom by saying: “We will not repeat the mistakes of 1989, when we abandoned the country only to see it descend into civil war and into Taliban hands.”
And Gates was there at the time, as President George H.W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser. So, he should know.