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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Freedom Fighters and Powerful Myths

"We must not break faith with those who are risking their lives on every continent from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth . . . Support for freedom fighters is self-defense." --President Reagan, in the State of the Union, February 1985 (1)

In Part three of the award winning BBC documentary; Power of Nightmares, we learn how devastating the so-called threat of Soviet aggression was. The neoconservative Reagan Administration, created this myth and used it to justify their idea of 'spreading democracy'. It was chaotic and brutal.

The Reagan Doctrine proclaims overt and unashamed American support for anti- Communist revolution. The grounds are justice, necessity and democratic tradition.

Justice, said the President in his Feb. 16 radio address, because these revolutionaries are "fighting for an end to tyranny." Necessity, said Secretary of State George Shultz in a subsequent address in San Francisco, because if these "freedom fighters" are defeated, their countries will be irrevocably lost behind an Iron Curtain of Soviet domination. And democratic tradition, said the President, because to support "our brothers" in revolution is to continue--"in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia, Cambodia, Angola . . . (and) Nicaragua"--200 years of American support for "Simon Bolivar . . . the Polish patriots, the French Resistance and others seeking freedom." (1)

And though Ronald Reagan took credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, he really had little to do with it. Their wounds were self inflicted.

This documentary is important because it helps to explain the rise of our own neoconservative movement. Stephen Harper was a huge fan of Ronald Reagan, whose administration created the most homeless people in the history of the United States.

This of course will not bother Harper at all. Leo Strauss, the father of the movement, dismisses us as the Ignorant Masses, who are too stupid to think for ourselves, so we must be guided by a powerful elite.

When the Reform Party was first created, it sold itself as a populist party, but most members at the time declared that it was the 'Calgary Clique' that made all the decisions, while they were merely pawns.

Freedom Fighters and Religious Fervour

Just as the neoconservative followers of Leo Strauss latched onto the Christian extremists, the followers of his counterpart that inspired the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, took on the Islamic fundamentalists, giving both sides a holy purpose.

When Ronald Reagan decided to throw financial support to the 'freedom fighter's' in Afghanistan, it empowered this radical group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose uncle had introduced him to the teachings of Qutb.

And while Osama Bin Laden, a member of the Saudi royal family, initially fought with a moderate army of Taliban, he would eventually join Zawahiri.

And Ronald Reagan was so grateful to the Taliban for helping to make America's corporate elite a lot of money that he named a day after them.

Proclamation 5034—Afghanistan Day, 1983
By the President of the United States of America, 21 March 1983

The tragedy of Afghanistan continues as the valiant and courageous Afghan freedom fighters [The Taliban] persevere in standing up against the brutal power of the Soviet invasion and occupation. The Afghan people are struggling to reclaim their freedom, which was taken from them when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979.

In this three-year period the Soviet Union has been unable to subjugate Afghanistan. The Soviet forces are pitted against an extraordinary people who, in their determination to preserve the character of their ancient land, have organized an effective and still spreading country-wide resistance. The resistance of the Afghan freedom fighters is an example to all the world of the invincibility of the ideals we in this country hold most dear, the ideals of freedom and independence.

We must also recognize that the sacrifices required to maintain this resistance are very high. Millions have gone into exile as refugees. We will probably never know the numbers of people killed and maimed, poisoned and gased, of the homes that have been destroyed, and of the lives that have been shattered and stricken with grief. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us as Americans to reflect on the events in Afghanistan, to think about the agony which these brave people bear, and to maintain our condemnation of the continuing Soviet occupation.

Our observance again this year of Afghanistan Day on March 21, the Afghan New Year, will recall for all the world America's unflagging sympathy for a determined people, its support for their refugees and commitment to achieving a political settlement for Afghanistan which will free that country from tyranny's yoke.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 65, has designated March 21, 1983 as Afghanistan Day and has requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of that day.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate March 21, 1983 as Afghanistan Day.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh. Ronald Reagan (2)

I don't think they celebrate Taliban Day now, and they are no longer considered to be 'Freedom Fighters'.

But I wonder if Stephen Harper has ever called Reagan 'Taliban Ron'? Not likely.


1. Essay: The Reagan Doctrine, Time Magazine, By Charles Krauthammer, April 1, 1985

2. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Proclamation 5034—Afghanistan Day, March 21, 1983

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