Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski:
How the US provoked the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess
Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*
Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his
memoirs [From the Shadows], that American intelligence services
began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan six months before the
Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national
security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a
role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. 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, 24 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.
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?
Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to
intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they
Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting
that they intended to fight against secret involvement of the
United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them.
However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything
Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea.
It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and
you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially
crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We
now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.
Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war
unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about
the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic
fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The
Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up
Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the
Question: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated:
Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in
regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam.
Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or
emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5
billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi
Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism,
Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more
than what unites the Christian countries.
* There are at least two editions of this magazine; with the
perhaps sole exception of the Library of Congress, the version
sent to the United States is shorter than the French version, and
the Brzezinski interview was not included in the shorter version.
** It should be noted that there is no demonstrable connection
between the Afghanistan war and the breakup of the Soviet Union
and its satellites. - William Blum
This interview was translated from the French by William Blum,
Author of "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions
Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only
September 11 / Afghanistan / Fundamentalism articles
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