Friday, June 16, 2006

Charlie Wilson's War -- Book Review

The sub-title says it all "The extra-ordinary story of the largest covert operation in history". George Crile has written a fascinating account of the CIA's role in the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

Charlie Wilson was a Dem senator from Texas. Most of the book deals with his efforts in Washington to get funding and support to his beloved mujahadeen. Washington is revealed not as a massive beurocratic system, or machine; but as a personality driven clique. One person, with the right skills (and Mr Wilson seems to have been a master), can find and grab the levers of power over literally billions of dollars in funding.

The other feature is the Alice-in-Wonderland nature of the world of the 1980s vs today's post-911 world. Then it was the Soviets who invaded a muslim country and faced a fierce insurgency. The US supported the insurgency at the urging of a Democratic president.
They supported (and were cheered) by fundamentalist jihadis, giving them secret weapons for attacking convoys and shelling bases.

One interesting question regarding today's Iraq is the lack of a Stinger missile. It made a huge difference in the Afghan war; as it would in Iraq. Strange that twenty years on there aren't tons of Stingers and its imitations available on the black market.

A movie is being made of the book.

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