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A Tale of Two Wars

April 5th, 2008 | by Dr. Forbush |

What should America’s foreign policy be?

I just finished “reading” “Charlie Wilson’s War.” I actually listened to the audio version of it on my way back and forth to work over the last week. I highly recommend it to anyone who wonders how our government works. The book details quite a few examples of why politicians do what they do as opposed to what they say in public.

The story of our involvement in Afghanistan and the historical context around it brings up a very interesting question. If America really hated communism or socialism, why were the Republicans so dead set on the Nicaragua War and the Democrats so dead set against it? And why was the converse true of the Afghanistan War?

People who haven’t seen the movie or read the book might be surprised to discover that Charlie Wilson was a Democrat from Texas. He was actually known as the “Liberal from Lufkin.” So, why did Charlie find the Afghan cause so important and the Contra effort such a lost cause?

The answer lies in the true nature of these two different wars and in the basic ideology of the Democrats and Republicans.

The Nicaragua War began when Somaza the dictator of Nicaragua, from a merger of wealthy coffee plantation family and other wealthy families was overthrown by a group of people who organized because of the abuse they suffered under this government. The overthrow could have been viewed as a liberation of the people from the oppression of the upper class. But, because the wealthy in America fear the common people they were eager to restore this wealthy family back to power. In order to do this they hired soldiers of fortune - the Contra to fight against the new Sandinista government.

The Afghan War began when the Soviet Union marched into Afghanistan and took over the government. The country was poor and not ruled by anyone possessing huge wealth. The Soviet Union mainly wanted territory and eventually access to a port on the Indian Ocean. But, in Afghanistan the Afghan people rose up en masse to fight the occupation of this land. These people didn’t need to be paid to fight, because they would gladly give their lives to fight the Soviet Union to the death.

These wars began roughly the same time in 1979, but the Republicans quickly backed the Nicaragua Contras while Charlie Wilson, the Democrat in Congress, sought to back the Afghanis. By looking at how those two wars started it is quite clear why one party backed one war while the other party backed the other. What does justice mean? Is justice protecting your ill-gotten gains or is it protecting your freedom? Obviously each political party here in the United States has its own interpretation. One war was to restore a wealthy family to power while the other war was to win freedom for a country that was overthrown by our direct cold war enemy - the Soviets. Which war was the more noble war? Which war was a war for freedom? Which war was for the people?

It is funny (or maybe sad) to think about how the Republicans have somehow inherited the caricature of the party that is willing to fight for freedom and liberty to defend our country, when they actually don’t act that way at all. A war for freedom and liberty isn’t really worth the fight in the minds of the Republican party. But, when real assets are involved, then the Republicans jump on the band wagon waving their pitchforks shouting “kill the beast.” In reality Democrats seem to act to protect our country in a more reasonable and rational way most of the time. When they are swayed to jump into the fight it seems to be when the plight of the people is in danger. Charlie Wilson went to bat for the Afghanis when no one else cared about them. He saw a noble people fighting to free themselves from oppression. This is the same fight that many working class Americans battle day to day because they have no choice; they need to feed their families. Hopefully, as these stories are retold and the truth bubbles to the surface we will see the true colors of the American political parties when it comes to defending our country.

When we put the Iraq War in the light of these two wars fought at roughly the same time we see how a Republican congress and a Republican President used their power to manipulate the facts to present their case for war. Their motives seem to be quite clear in this light. The Iraq War has nothing to do with winning freedom from the oppression of Saddam Hussein as many Republicans would have you believe. It is obviously for the control of Iraqi oil. Well, Ok I already knew that years ago, but it is always comforting to see additional evidence backing a theory. Although evidence mounts some people will never believe that whoever they support could ever do anything wrong.

Like a said above, this book is a must read. It goes into the nuance details of how this politician with a noble goal in mind could not realize when his war was beginning to go wrong. And, by wrong I mean that the CIA support against the Soviets turned into fuel for internal conflict in Afghanistan. The result put the Taliban in power and created terrorist camps. Charlie Wilson and the CIA remained blinded by the perception of the nobility of those they supported although the extremism that beat the Soviets was slowly being turned against the United States. They believed that if they were able to bring down one super power, they could surely bring down the other, because “God is the only superpower!”

When I start hearing words tied to actions like that I begin to worry. The mind of the person who says these things is convinced not only that God is all powerful. That part I am OK with. But they also imply a second part that says I am doing Gods will. The flaw is that the person acting believes that they know what God’s will is. This frightening thought process is not only a part of the Islamic religious ideology. It is a part of fundamentalist religious ideology. Not all Muslims are fundamentalists. Just like not all Christians are fundamentalists. But, all fundamentalists have this belief that they are doing God’s will and therefore nothing can stop them from doing it. And that’s why George W Bush’s claim that he is doing God’s will in the Middle East is so frightening. Eight more months!


Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit


  1. 2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Wars”

  2. By 4Truth on Apr 6, 2008 | Reply

    And GWB created a backdoor draft that, for some reason, nobody points it out.
    WASHINGTON — Army leaders are expressing increased alarm about the mental health of soldiers who would be sent back to the front again and again under plans that call for troop numbers to be sustained at high levels in Iraq for this year and beyond.
    Ask the Vietnam Vets (2 Months in the Jungle would make you on edge) GWB War soldiers spend 12-15 months per tour with no time off.

  3. By Chris Radulich on Apr 6, 2008 | Reply

    Certainly the stop loss program makes a lie of the all volunteer nature of the armed forces.

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