Many people still believe that the US used the Pakistani government and intelligence services to create fundamentalist Islamic groups to bog down the Soviets and give them their 'Vietnam' in Afghanistan, simply because that was what they did during the 'Cold War.' After all, there was a world-wide covert and 'noble' battle against the evils of 'Communism' right? Well, not really. While making it difficult for the Soviets was probably a consideration, the main problem for the Americans was the specter of the evils of secularism and modern liberal, progressive values taking hold in S. E. Asia, not to mention the danger that they could infect the entire region. There was also the CIA's plan to establish the world's large heroin manufacturing operation, the proceeds of which would be used to continue CIA operations around the world.
What would have become of America's rampant capitalism, national security state, and self-styled role of policeman of the world if they had had to spend the last 30 years with no fundamentalist Islam to speak of, no drug money, and all of the Middle East and S.E Asia enjoying the benefits of socialist governments, profitable and happy for all the world to see?
The root of the problem for the US government was that Afghanistan has recently taken a turn for the worse, at least from the CIA's perspective.
In 1973 Dr. Mohammad Daoud, an extreme conservative who ruled as absolute dictator, had come to power in a coup. In response to the oppressive policy of the new regime, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, PDPA, was formed, but in 1978 Daoud's ordered the arrest of almost the entire leadership of the PDPA.
The progressive masses in Kabul saw the arrests as an attempt to annihilate the PDPA, just as Pinochet had done to the workers parties in Chile in 1973 (with US backing). An uprising by the lower ranks of the military freed the popular party leader, Nur Mohammad Taraki. Within a day, Daoud was overthrown and a revolutionary government proclaimed, headed by Taraki.
According to the CIA's own casebook on Afghanistan, before the revolution, 5 percent of Afghanistan's rural landowners owned more than 45 percent of the arable land. A third of the rural people were landless laborers, sharecroppers, or tenants. Debts to the landlords and to money lenders "were a regular feature of rural life." An indebted farmer turned over half his crop each year to the money lender.
When the PDPA took power, it quickly moved to remove both landownership inequalities and usury. Decree number six of the revolution canceled mortgage debts of agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.
The revolutionary government set up extensive literacy programs, especially for women. It printed textbooks in many languages. "The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans."
By 1985 there had been an 80-percent increase in hospital beds. The government initiated mobile medical units and brigades of women and young people to go to the undeveloped countryside and provide medical services to the peasants for the first time.
Among the very first decrees of the revolutionary regime were to prohibit bride-price and give women freedom of choice in marriage. "Historically, gender roles and women's status have been tied to property relations. Women and children tend to be assimilated into the concept of property and to belong to a male."
Before the revolution, a bride who did not exhibit signs of virginity on the wedding night could be murdered by her father and/or brothers.
After the revolution, young women in the cities, where the new government's authority was strong, could tear off the veil, freely go out in public, attend school, and get jobs. They were organized in the Democratic Women's Organization of Afghanistan, founded in 1965 by Dr. Anahita Ratebzada.
The revolution and the establishment of the social government under Taraki challenged the old fundamentalist Islamic order. Afghanistan was slowly being turned into a progressive and libertarian country with a somewhat secular government providing equal rights for all. 17
Of course, at the time, these measures were denounced as evidence of the spread of 'Communism' in Afghanistan which had to be stamped out, the truth, howeve,r is that it was the spread of moderate and responsible government - something that the US has repeatedly fought against around the world - that concerned the architects of America's Empire.
Zbigniew Brzezinski served as US National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. In an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur Jan 15-21, 1998, p.76, he explained a few things:
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 in Dec 1979. But the reality, closely 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.The "pro-Soviet regime" mentioned here was the socialist government of Taraki that was advocating women's rights and education for all.
Question: 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?