A Russian Lesson

RT (formerly Russia Today) has an article today which quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as vowing that Russia will never again make the mistakes that sucked it into Afghanistan:

The head of the Foreign Ministry said Russia has no intention of deploying its military to the Middle East or North Africa, where social and political crisis is rampant, opting instead to work diplomatically with legitimate governments.

“This is my answer to those who wonder why we are not fighting for our positions,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the “Sunday Night with Solovyov” program. “We will not be fighting for our positions … and creating ‘another Afghanistan’ for ourselves. Never, under no circumstances!”

Lavrov was referring to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan (1979-1989), which is being played out in similar fashion today by the United States and Coalition forces in a bid to rid Afghanistan of its Taliban and terrorist yoke.

Maybe we can learn something from the Russians? A good starting point would be to ask why we aided the mujahideen in their jihad against the Soviets during the 1980s. Many Americans, including President Reagan, called them “freedom fighters,” even though Osama bin Laden was one of them, and they treated women horribly (see page 3 of that link).

I remember delving deeply enough in the 1980s to learn that these so-called freedom fighters were chanting “Death to America,” even though we had armed them with Stinger missiles and other lethal weaponry. CIA worries that some of those Stingers would be used against Western airliners were trumped by our anger at the Soviets doing essentially what we are now doing in Afghanistan. Proverbs 22:8 provides a possible explanation for our current difficulties: “Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity.” It is time we sowed a different crop.

Martin Hellman

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About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, for almost 30 years, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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