In the 1980s the Reagan Administration decided to supply the Afghan Mujahideen with ground-to-air Stinger missiles with which to shoot down Soviet (Russian) helicopters/aircraft. Years later Hollywood gave “credit” for that policy, and presumably for the fall of Afghanistan to the Jihadists, to a Texas Congressman named Charlie Wilson and his influential Texan mistress (and to Tom Hanks).
The film Charlie Wilson’s War was made just a few years after the terrorist attacks of September 2001, but Hollywood has its own tunnel vision and did not see the irony lurking somewhere in the background of that story. Or, most likely, it was seen as inconvenient to paying suburban movie-goers to bring out the connection that was screaming out of the large screen. After all, that Stinger policy may have contributed to the eventual Soviet withdrawal and handing Afghanistan to a bunch of Islamist terrorists.
The civil war that ensued between the Mujahideen factions and Islamist tribal warlords destroyed more of Afghanistan than the Russian incursion/occupation. It culminated in the takeover of the Taliban and their Arab Wahhabi (Al Qaeda) paymasters. We all know the rest: the switching off the lights all over Afghanistan, terrorist attacks in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, other places, then in the USA, Europe, and Asia.
That was the Stinger. Now the Russians and Iranians are in Syria, in the air and on the ground. Just as the Saudis and their partners are in Yemen, in the air and on the ground. Now the TOW is being supplied to what are called “moderate” Syrian rebels. And I had thought all moderate Syrian rebels resided in Europe and North America by now. The American TOW is being supplied to counter a possible Russian-Syrian (and possibly Iranian) assault on the strongholds of the Jihadis in northern Syria. If this new weapon works, the likely beneficiaries will be the Jihadis of ISIS and Al-Nusra allies. It is almost certainly too late to revive the old moderate Syrian opposition in-country: the Wahhabi princes and petroleum potentates saw to that three years ago. With crucial Turkish cooperation by Caliph Erdogan, of course.
No doubt the Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati potentates are footing the massive bill.
But does history repeat itself? Can it be repeated? I know that mistakes can and are repeated, and too often.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum