The study inquired into whether Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols, the bombers of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, "received any help from Middle Easterners." The study concludes: Maybe.
Less uncertain: How much help the U.S. has given to jihadists. Late last week, I wrote about the December anniversary of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the American funding of the mujahideen, the Muslim warriors who eventually drove out the Soviets, and destabilized the Soviet Union so powerfully that they contributed to the USSR's collapse.
The role the Americans played in funding the "holy warriors'" resistance to the Soviets is reasonably well known, though it isn't so polite to talk about these days. What is far less known is that American funding of the mujahideen began before the Soviet invasion.
One of the few people who does talk about it is Chalmers Johnson, a former naval officer and a Japan and Asia scholar, in Blowback: the Costs and Consequences of American Empire. Since receiving the book as a holiday gift a few days ago, I've been gripped by his thesis that the United States would probably reap the results of its covert operations during the Cold War, if not in the late 1990s, when Blowback was published, then soon. Now that "soon" has become "now," I hope the time has come to start discussing the intricacies of the recent American past in which, in order to win the Cold War at any cost, the U.S. found it worth it to plant the seeds of the next war:
The USSR's invasion of Afghanistan was deliberately provoked. In his 1996 memoirs, former CIA director Robert Gates writes that the American intelligence services actually began to aid the mujahudeen guerrillas in Afghanistan not after the Soviet invasion of that country, but six months before it. And in a 1998 interview with the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Oberservateur,former president Carter's National Security Adviser,"Zbigniew Brzezinski, unambiguously confirmed Gates's assertion.
"According to the official version of history,"Brzezinski told the Nouvel Oberservateur,, "CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 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 intervention."
When asked whether he regretted these actions, Brzezinski replied:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trp and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: 'We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."
Nouvel Observateur: "And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, whih has given arms and advice to future terrorists?"
Brzezinski: "What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"