Here's some forgotten history. Not ancient history, but nonetheless forgotten. Just a week over 30 years ago, the end of 1979, Afghanistan had a functioning government, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The fact that it functioned, which now sounds remarkable, was not a good thing as far as the US was concerned because this was also a communist government allied to the Soviet Union (just over its border to the north). In the flight from reality known as The Cold War, the US wished the functioning government in Afghanistan would be toppled. Does the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for" come to mind?
The Afghan government faced immediate resistance from local Islamist militants. The government asked its ally to the north for help. On Christmas Eve, 1979, Leonid Brezhnev sent in the first detachment of the Soviet 40th Army, beginning what was to be a 9 year military debacle for the Russians and the beginning of a slide into chaos for Afghanistan, a slide set up by the Soviet intervention and the active connivance of the US via support for the Islamist mujahideen. India supported the Afghan government, while Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other Muslim nations joined the US in giving military aid to the Islamist Mujahideen Resistance. Osama bin Laden, member of a wealthy Saudi family, was one of an all-Arab group of foreign volunteers in the Islamic resistance who benefited from US aid.
The seemingly endless Afghan War, often called The Soviet Vietnam, ended in February 1989, shortly before the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991. But the DRA survived, even, by many accounts, becoming more effective than during the Soviet years. The crushing blow came when one of its military leaders, Abdul Rashid Dostum, switched to the mujahideen in 1992. As the country descended into chaos he would again switch sides to become a general and Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army. He was ousted and spent a year in exile in 2008 because of a well-deserved reputation for brutality and human rights abuses. But last June Afghan President Hamid Karzai brought him back as Chief of Staff. Nice.
Let's return to 1980, the year the Olympics were to be in Moscow. President Jimmy Carter threatened a US boycott of the Olympics if the Soviets didn't pull out of Afghanistan by midnight EST on February 20, 1980. The Soviets dug in further. On March 21 the US was joined by Japan, West Germany, China, the Philippines and Canada in announcing a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. You can read more about it here. Or you can listen to Tom Paxton sign about it. This still seems timely, even though the occupiers have changed:
Carters NSA, Brzezinski (Obamas foreign policy adviser behind the scenes), admitted that we were training and arming insurgents at least 6 months prior to the Soviet invasion to support the Afghan government.
At about the same time, the Shah was overthrown and Khomeini took over. It's hard to believe the US just stood by and let this happen. Especially since the US was responsible for the CIA engineered coup that led to the Shah taking over from a democratically elected leader who god forbid, wanted to nationalize the oil in 1953. But the subsequent 25 year agreement on oil rights was coming to an end in 1978, the Shah was reluctant to sign another one, plus some folks, guess who, wanted to keep oil prices high by reducing supplies. Also, the Shah was looking to go nuclear in a big way (for energy), and nuclear was the biggest threat globally to Big Oil and controlling oil poor nations with credit for oil (which was quite profitable given the high inflation and interest rates at the time).
However, thus began the birth of Islamic Extremism.
This is about the same time as TMI which happened coincidentally on the same day the newly created FEMA began operation, this discrediting the nuclear industry. The high interest rates did not help future development either.
Then our buddy at the time, Saddam, was convinced it was in his interest to invade Iran. Of course, we funded both sides of this long war, Iran Contra is well known. The chemicals used to create the chemical weapons used by Saddam against the Kurds who were aligned with Iran came from you know where. Thats why Saddam was not tried for that crime when captured.
In the end, both Iran and Iraq became weakened militarily. Saddam was then led to believe the US would not interfere if he invaded Kuwait who he claimed was stealing oil by slant drilling, and was historically part of Iraq. The rest is history.
The great fear of Arab Nationalism uniting the Arab nations was thus gone with Saddam and the Shah out of the picture.
A convenient enemy was born (created?) that eventually replaced the Cold War with the GWOT and destabilized the Middle East.
Also, some of these insurgents went to work in Kosovo and helped destabilize the Balkans after Afghanistan, thus leading to NATO's war against the Serbs. We still have a large base in Kosovo.
The Great Game continues.
People think history is all about Coincidence, Incompetence and Accidents (CIA version). Some of it is, but maybe not as much as you think.