Hawks Want Obama to Be More Like Jimmy Carter [FAIR]

There’s been no shortage of right-wing criticism of Barack Obama’s policy towards Russia. But some are advising he be more like…. Jimmy Carter?

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (3/13/14) explained:

Obama is not the first president to conduct a weak foreign policy. Jimmy Carter was similarly inclined–until Russia invaded Afghanistan, at which point the scales fell from Carter’s eyes.

From that moment on, he writes, Carter “responded boldly,” winding up with

the massive military aid we began sending the mujaheddin, whose insurgency so bled the Russians over the next decade that they not only lost Afghanistan but were fatally weakened as a global imperial [sic] power.

Invasion woke Carter from his illusions. Will it wake Obama?

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (3/17/14) seemed to crib from Krauthammer’s analysis a few days later, explaining that “in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,” Carter “began aid to Afghan insurgents.” Gerson closed with this:

This is now the state of Obama’s foreign policy: He must rise to Carter-era levels of resolve.

There are at least two points that deserve clarification. Carter’s support for the anti-Soviet mujaheddin did not actually begin after the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1998, Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a revealing interview to the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur (cited in CounterPunch, 1/15/98), where he explained what really happened:

Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

He added: “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?”

The interview became more prominent after the September 11 attacks, which drew considerable media attention to this history, since Al-Qaeda’s origin is linked to Osama bin Laden’s experience in Afghanistan. As the Nation’s Eric Alterman (11/12/01) noted: “The truth is that the United States began a program of covert aid to the Afghan guerrillas six months before the Soviets invaded.”

So it’s inaccurate to describe Carter’s support for Afghan insurgents as a consequence of the Soviet invasion; to hear Brzezinski tell it, the reality was more the other way around.

But a more fundamental question might be: Do Krauthammer and Gerson really believe that what transpired in Afghanistan in the 1980s is something to be emulated now?..

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/03/21/hawks-want-obama-to-be-more-like-jimmy-carter

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