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RIP Charlie Wilson.... or not......

Posted by Daltons chin dimple on Thursday, February 11, 2010

....depending on your point of view.

From The Times:

Charlie Wilson, the Texan Democrat who championed covert CIA support for Afghan Mujahidin in the 1980s and whose life was chronicled in a Hollywood film, has died. He was 76.

The controversial former congressman, known as “Good-time Charlie” for his hard-partying ways, died of a heart attack in a Texas hospital late yesterday.

He was taken to hospital after suffering breathing problems following a meeting in Lufkin, the eastern Texas town where he lived, according to a hospital spokeswoman. He was pronounced dead on arrival, and the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest.

Mr Wilson served 12 consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, and was often referred to as the "Liberal from Lufkin".

He sat on a key House subcommittee and helped to secure huge increases in funding for CIA efforts to help Afghan Mujahidin fighting Soviet occupation forces after the 1979 invasion.

The movie Charlie Wilson’s War, which chronicled his efforts, starred Tom Hanks as Mr Wilson and Julia Roberts as the Houston socialite Joanne Herring who helped him to win support for the secret war.

Hanks portrayed Mr Wilson – who was known for hiring attractive young women to staff his congressional office in Washington – as a boozy womaniser who found his life's cause in helping the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

On a less flattering side, the movie opens with Mr Wilson in a hot tub in a Las Vegas hotel, flanked by two strippers who are high on cocaine. In 1980 the US Justice Department investigated Mr Wilson for possible drug use, but no charges were made.

"The feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale, and I ain't telling," Mr Wilson told the author George Crile, who included the material in his book, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, on which the film was based.

Mr Wilson said that the film played down his unlikely career. “I had the most fun of my life making that movie and, believe me, I have had a lot of fun in my life," he said.

As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr Wilson quietly helped to steer billions of dollars to the CIA, which distributed the funds to buy Afghan fighters high-tech weapons such as Stinger missiles, which were used to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.

"I just saw the opportunity to grab the sons o'bitches by the throat," the fiercely anti-communist Mr Wilson told the Dallas Morning News in a 2007 interview.

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, said that when he was director of the CIA he knew Mr Wilson, who “was working tirelessly on behalf of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviets”.

Mr Gates said in a statement released overnight: “As the world now knows, his efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close.

"After the Soviets left, Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatised country to its fate — a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today.”

After the Soviet withdrawal, Mr Wilson expressed reservations about the American decisions to cut funds to Afghanistan, which he blamed for creating a void that led to the rising influence of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the Islamic militant group accused of the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

Mr Wilson was born in Trinity, Texas, in 1933, attended the US Naval Academy, and served in the US Navy. He was elected to the Texas legislature and went on to serve in the US House from 1973. He retired from Congress in 1997.

In 2007, he underwent a heart transplant.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and sister Sharon Allison.

Representative David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, described Mr Wilson as "a man of courage and conviction who worked hard, loved his country, and lived life to the fullest".

Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

This was back when supporting Islamic causes didn't guarantee you a one-way trip to the political doghouse....

A lot of people backed the Mujahideen when it was unpopular. Wilson tends to get the glory(and the fawning Hollywood treatment), but the battle to liberate the Afghan people from Soviet oppression was won by many.

Corporal_Hicks
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

Like Rambo.

Sent from Dalton's IPad.
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

Rambo cries like a bitch at the end of First Blood.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

What I find interesting is how, when you dig into it, the often repeated ascertation that the US armed and trained the Taliban therefore is now reaping what it had sown is far too simplified, and largely factually incorrect.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

Well, that's not really the argument.

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

Space Tycoon wrote:

Well, that's not really the argument.

I'd argue stuff with you guys, but I'm a poor arguer.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 49 weeks ago

I disbelieve your poor arguey-ness.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Daltons chin dimple wrote:

.....(The) often repeated ascertation that the US armed and trained the Taliban therefore is now reaping what it had sown is far too simplified, and largely factually incorrect.

I must say I don't know of too many pundits or commentators who state that "the US armed and trained the Taliban."

In fact, I know of no-one who has ever made this assertion. Perhaps you could shed some light on this claim. It is unclear to me how you would reach this conclusion.

What is _not_ unclear, however, is that from the late 1970's to the late 80's the US--in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other nations--financed, armed, trained, and otherwise supported anti-Communist elements within Afghanistan. As part of the largest covert operation in history, the anti-Soviet alliance supported a wide array of insurgents, including Islamic fundamendalists.

The rest is history. Or is it? Memories are short...seems we have learned nothing. The Cold War was really anything but. The Soviets were planning to use a Communist Afghanistan as a staging point for invasion and/or domination of Pakistan, Iran, and the entire oil-rich Persian Gulf Region.

Can you imagine what the world would be like today if they had succeeded? Very different, to be sure. Viewed in this light the Cold War seems like a true world war.

The last time a World War was won, the United States government wisely saw to it that the shattered nations who helped win it(including your nation, by the way) were brought back on their feet, rebuilt, and rearmed. The Afghan resistance drained the Soviet Empire economically and morally; and in doing so, helped conclude a decades-long game. A game whose stakes were ultimately no less heavy than those in 1941.

What would have happened if the US had left Europe to it's fates in 1945?

Where was the Afghan Marshall Plan? Why did the Bush and Clinton administrations choose to leave our former allies twisting in the wind, in spite of all they had done to help resolve the defining conflict of the latter half of the 20th century?

Quite simply, because they could. From 1991, Afghanistan was seen as a marginal backwater which could be ignored and forgotten. It was only when the powers that be internalized the importance of Central Asian oil, in the mid-to-late-90s, that Afghanistan suddenly re-emerged on the radar screen. Afghanistan has no oil of it's own, but it is a conduit nation for pipelines delivering vast untapped reserves of petroleum from the Caspian Sea Region to the emerging economies of South and East Asia, among others.

Taliban emerged as a response to the total lawlessness that overtook Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan Communist regime. The US was briefly willing to deal with a stable government in Kabul as long as they were: fighting the then Russian-backed Northern Alliance; executing people associated with the opium trade; and negotiating oil pipeline deals.

When that changed, US Afghan policy esentially took on the trappings of a turf war. And that's where we are now.

Mal Shot First
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

From the Wikipedia entry on Taliban's rise to power:

"Although there isn't any evidence that the CIA directly supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda, some basis for military support of the Taliban was provided when, in the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency) provided arms to Afghans resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the ISI assisted the process of gathering radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the Soviets.[4] Osama Bin Laden was one of the key players in organizing training camps for the foreign Muslim volunteers. The U.S. poured funds and arms into Afghanistan, and "by 1987, 65,000 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition a year were entering the war."[5] FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who has been fired from the agency for disclosing sensitive information, has claimed United States was on intimate terms with Taliban and Al-Qaeda, using them to further certain goals in Central Asia.[6]"

Wikipedia is never wrong

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

I remember that album.

I prefer their early stuff. Rise to Power always struck me as a bit too mainstream . . . too "poppy." Real fans agree with me.

Mal Shot First
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

It is 'Shopped.

Everyone knows the "Rise to Power" portion was printed on the shrink rap, so that when it was removed the artwork beneath could be better appreciated. Some folks add the title back when they post an image with a RapidShare link to the album on their Blogger accounts. I imagine they do this for the people (fair-weather fans and Taliban virgins [all seventy-two of them]) who might not recognize it, otherwise.

Personally, I like it without the "Rise to Power" (even though it is inferior to their earlier stuff, it is still Taliban, and I am a completist). That's how I have it in my iTunes.

HI MY NAME IS GUS
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

The Swollen Goi... wrote:

I remember that album.I prefer their early stuff. Rise to Power always struck me as a bit too mainstream . . . too "poppy." Real fans agree with me.

Oh, for god's...

Yeah, real great work telegraphing the joke there with them quotation marks, sporto.

You know what I heard? They say that if the Taliban were an actress, she'd make a good "heroine".

But, in fact, Taliban was an aspiring child star in 1960, considered for the Andy Griffith show in the role of "Opie. Um", but if I remember correctly, Ron Howard got the job.

Think of me as a megaphone directed at God's eardrum, my child.
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Just because the album's second (and biggest) single is titled "Poppy" doesn't mean I was trying to reference it. It was a coincidence.

:-(

Jack S. Pharaoh
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

The Swollen Goi... wrote:

Just because the album's second (and biggest) single is titled "Poppy" doesn't mean I was trying to reference it. It was a coincidence. :-(

They hid "Chasing the Dragon" (best track) at the end of the disc, where only the real fans would find it.

Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Mal Shot First wrote:

FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who has been fired from the agency for disclosing sensitive information, has claimed United States was on intimate terms with Taliban and Al-Qaeda, using them to further certain goals in Central Asia.[6]"Wikipedia is never wrong

Oh, no question about that. But that's different from saying that the US created Taliban or al-Qaeda. They didn't take their present form until later.

I've read that the CIA wanted to use al-Qaeda to stir up insurgents in Xinjiang, Western China's Muslim province.

Mal Shot First
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Posts: 3180
Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Well, you did say that

Space Tycoon wrote:

...I don't know of too many pundits or commentators who state that "the US armed and trained the Taliban."

I just provided you with a major source that claims that they did at least arm the Taliban and helped them get organized.

Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

It's a matter of dates. The US and others supported Islamists during the 1980's, yes. But the Taliban didn't take power as a government until 1994, IIRC.

Space Tycoon
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Anyway, I think it's a matter of semantics.

My point, (which I probably making badly), is that I don't think that arming the Islamists in Afghan is what blew up in America's face; it was basically failing to rebuild the country following the war.

No Marshall Plan, as I say.

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 48 weeks ago

Jack S. Pharaoh wrote:

They hid "Chasing the Dragon" (best track) at the end of the disc, where only the real fans would find it.

The album's real hidden track is on the secret, second surface of the disc. You have to peel off the first surface (thus destroying the "regular" album--which you probably have a second or third copy of, anyway, if you are a true fan) to expose it. This hidden track is called "Anagram of 'Tanibal,'" and lasts seventy-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. It's pretty terrible.