The dis-oriented author grew up during the Cold War. I remember Viet Nam and Afghanistan. I remember when the United States sided with Islamic militias to fight the Soviets. I remember Charlie Wilson's War. George Criles book, Charlie Wilson's War is a look at the Afghan war and how the United States came to side with people like Osama bin Ladin against the Soviet Union.
I remember these events as they unfolded but I never understood them until I read this book.
Charlie Wilson was a congressman from Texas. You might even say that Wilson was a caricature of a congressman from Texas. Handsome and charismatic, he was a bon-vivant and a rake to use the archaic terms. His congressional staffers were all attractive and female and were known on the Hill as Charlie's Angels.
Wilson was a sort of congressional slacker. But when Joanne Herring, a Dallas socialite, introduced him to the Afghan struggle agains the Soviets — Wilson became a man obsessed. Wilson worked both through and around the CIA to provide covert funds for the Mujahedeen. Ultimately Wilson saw the Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the withdrawal came as a larger part of the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Afghanistan was eclipsed in the news by the Berlin Wall coming down.
As the Soviets left, so did US aid and interest. Afghanistan deteriorated into a bloody civil war. The collapse of Afghan institutions was a significant factor in the birth of Al Qaeda.
This book paints a tremendous picture of victory grasped and opportunity lost.
|Charlie Wilson's War gets 5 of 5 dis-oriented smileys|
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