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Bergdahl

I’m vaguely reminded of the story in George Crile’s book Charlie Wilson’s War about how during the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Oliver North and Richard Perle championed the idea of persuading Soviet soldiers to defect to the Free World:

Their idea was to encourage Soviet officers and soliders to defect to the mujahideen. … At a White House meeting, North and Perle told [CIA man Gust] Avrakotos [who was played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the 2007 movie] they wanted the Agency to spend millions on this program, expressing the belief that as many as ten thousand defectors could be expected to pour across the lines.

Avrakotos thought North and Perle were “cuckoos of the Far Right …” “What Russian in his right mind would defect to those f****** all armed to the teeth? Avrakotos said in frustration. “To being with, anyone defecting to the Dushman would have to be a crook, a thief, or someone who wanted to get cornholed every day, because nine out of ten prisoners were dead within twenty-four hours and they were always turned into concubines by the mujahideen. I felt so sorry for them I wanted to have them all shot.” …

At one point Avrakotos arrived for one of these White House sessions armed with five huge photographic blowups. Before unveiling them he explained that they would provide a useful understanding of the kind of experience a Soviet soldier could expect to have should he surrender to the mujahideen. One of them showed two Russian sergeants being used as concubines. Another had a Russian hanging from the turret of a tank with a vital part of his removed. … “If you were a sane f****** Russian, would your defect to these people?” he had demanded of Perle.

In spite of the angry complaints, Claire George and everyone else on the seventh floor [of CIA headquarters] agreed with Avrakotos’s position. He says that Director [William] Casey even privately told him, “I think your point is quite valid. What a****** would want to defect to those animals?”

 
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43 Comments to "Bergdahl"
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  1. Or maybe that wasn’t the case.

    Soviet soldier missing since 1980 found in Afghanistan

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/06/world/asia/missing-russian-soldier-found-afghanistan/

    BTW, what is preventing members of the Taliban from defecting to NATO?

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  2. Steve, based on many of your previous ‘WW’ posts you should assume that many American ‘males’ want to be concubines.

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  3. There were many Soviet defectors to the mujahiddin who eventually found their way to the West in the 1980s. Many stayed in Afghanistan and went native, even.

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  4. George:”Or maybe that wasn’t the case.

    Or maybe he’s the exception that proves the rule.

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  5. WhatEvvs [AKA "Pseudonymph"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    The best movie to come out of Afghanistan was Company 9, a Russian movie directed by Fedor Bondarchuk, Sergei’s son.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417397/

    So I guess they have nepotism there too. But the son is a good director. The movie has one of the most spectacular blow-up sh*t scenes ever. The mooj attack Bagram air base & everything goes boom.

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  6. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Both Crile and Avrakotos are revealing their biases again. The reason tribal warriors (mujahideen and medieval-era Mongols alike) have been loathe to take prisoners is because prisoners cost a lot of money and effort to feed. Afghanistan is a vast, poverty-striken wasteland where farmers and herders employed full-time can barely feed themselves. Any food that the mujahideen got had to be acquired and carried across vast distances. That was the reason for providing funding to get the Afghans to take prisoners. Without the funding, Soviet prisoners were merely parasites whose feeding would reduce mujahideen rations.

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  7. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    BTW, what is preventing members of the Taliban from defecting to NATO?

    Lots of sub-cabinet level Afghan government figures are Taliban defectors. One is a cabinet member. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Afghanistan

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  8. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “I think your point is quite valid. What a****** would want to defect to those animals?”

    Think about the depth of cynicism in this. Casey called the people he was arming and financing animals. Nobody forced him or Pearle to pick the Mujaheddin as allies.

    And there is no doubt in my mind that that’s how the current generation of neocons and CIA men look at their Banderite allies in the Ukraine too.

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  9. I’m not sure how this kind of indignate jack assery which seems so characteristic of the man actually disproves North and Perle’s idea. If soviet soldiers started defecting and were given quarter by the afghani fighters on American orders then the plan might have worked. The argument wasn’t hey why aren’t more Russians defecting it’s hey maybe if we change a few things we can bump that number up. I’m sure I could have made a lot of sneering comments up pic nice in Austria what kind to soviet border gaurd would go t

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  10. I’m not sure how this kind of indignate jack assery which seems so characteristic of the man actually disproves North and Perle’s idea. If soviet soldiers started defecting and were given quarter by the afghani fighters on American orders then the plan might have worked. The argument wasn’t hey why aren’t more Russians defecting it’s hey maybe if we change a few things we can bump that number up. I’m sure I could have made a lot of sneering comments up pic nice in Austria what kind to soviet border gaurd would go to a pic nic in Austria and yet it was a very effective plan Otto V pulled off.

    Honestly it is people like Avrakatos that make the fact that being right isn’t enough in life pretty acceptable. Oliver North really wanted to defeat communism. He had some good ideas and some bad ones but basicallly at the end of the day the thousand pin prick method worked pretty well.

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  11. Think of all the cynicism in Anon’s comments. He is likely someone who hates when UKIP and FN get labelled fascist but abandons those objections in order to support the foreign policy of foreign country. Not only that in order to shoe horn his hobby horse(back?) into this subject he has to impute thoughts to the neo-cons.

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  12. anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I’ve heard a handful of stories about how this guy got captured, from a handful of sources, and they are all completely different.

    Seems like it might take awhile for the truth to become clear.

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  13. Sam Haysom wrote:

    ” If soviet soldiers started defecting and were given quarter by the afghani fighters on American orders then the plan might have worked. The argument wasn’t hey why aren’t more Russians defecting it’s hey maybe if we change a few things we can bump that number up.”

    It’s just that simple, eh?

    Look giving them stinger missiles and other weapons, and other kinds of aid is one thing.

    But totally changing age old patterns of dealing with a defeated enemy? Sure, if you made it clear that one particular enemy or something is someone you really want intact, and you are willing to pay for it, well you’d get something.

    There is a kind of arrogance in this notion. It’s like you think you can go up to people, and tell them:

    “You, yeah you. Look the way you have been doing everything is just plain wrong. Don’t do it that way any more.

    You get any more defectors from the Russians, you know what to do now.

    Glad we could clear that up. Well look at the time, got to catch a flight back to Washington.”

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  14. Ever heard of this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badaber_Uprising

    Somehow I feel rather sorry for those Soviet pows, but at least they seem to have taken down quite a few Mujahideen and Pakistanis.

    I’m glad the Soviet Union dissolved and no longer occupies half of Europe, but in retrospect it probably wasn’t a good idea to support Islamists and the duplicitous Pakistanis (and the Afghanistan war may not have been that important for the break-up of the Soviet Union anyway so it probably wasn’t worth it).

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  15. The Taliban and the Mujahiddin are not the same. The Mujahiddin largely became the Northern Allliance, i.e., the enemies of the Taliban. Most of the Taliban were too young during the Soviet war.

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  16. “I’m glad the Soviet Union dissolved and no longer occupies half of Europe, but in retrospect it probably wasn’t a good idea to support Islamists and the duplicitous Pakistanis (and the Afghanistan war may not have been that important for the break-up of the Soviet Union anyway so it probably wasn’t worth it).”

    My toughts exactly. The CIA and most of the West hatred for the Soviets was so deep that we tought “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and our support of the Islamists had long turn terrible consequences for the region and even for the rest of the world.

    Looking at old photos, communist Afghanistan was much more westernized back then than after more than ten years of the current war and our “reconstruction”. http://www.barnorama.com/afghanistan-1970s/#

    Still, the West support for the mujahideens makes Rambo III embarasing to watch. And also, this 1993 article of the “veteran” “freedom fighter” of Afghanistan Bin Laden: http://www.laaventuradelahistoria.es/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/osama.jpg

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  17. The most deplorable one [AKA "Hard Line Realist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Or maybe that wasn’t the case.

    Soviet soldier missing since 1980 found in Afghanistan”

    “Now living under the name of Sheikh Abdullah and working as a traditional healer in the Shindand district of Herat Province in western Afghanistan, former Soviet soldier Bakhredtin Khakimov was an ethnic Uzbek.”

    So, he was an Uzbeki and you imply that he wasn’t cornholed every day? (Whatever that means.)

    He looks like a fellow Muslim to me and was probably treated differently than (Eastern) Christian Russians could expect to be treated.

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  18. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “And also, this 1993 article of the “veteran” “freedom fighter” of Afghanistan Bin Laden: http://www.laaventuradelahistoria.es/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/osama.jpg

    Franktremb, thank you for that link. Amazing.

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  19. The most deplorable one [AKA "Hard Line Realist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Without the funding, Soviet prisoners were merely parasites whose feeding would reduce mujahideen rations.”

    And yet, there’s this guy:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/06/world/asia/missing-russian-soldier-found-afghanistan/

    Did he bring his own food?

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  20. “Looking at old photos, communist Afghanistan was much more westernized back then than after more than ten years of the current war and our “reconstruction”. http://www.barnorama.com/afghanistan-1970s/#”

    The communists came to power in 1978. Most of those photos were from before the communist coup. Modernisation in Afghanistan had started under Zahir Shah (who was just as Pashtun as the Taliban, but Italian-speaking and French-educated). But that modernisation as shown in the photos was entirely confined to Kabul. Once the communists (also Pashtun) took power, the radical faction (Khalq — Pashtun but only a generation removed from being hicks) wanted to extend that modernisation to the countryside, which started a civil war. The Pashtun countryside couldn’t care less what they did in the cities, but bringing western ways to them was a nonstarter. But the Soviets didn’t want a civil war — they were very pragmatic about their satellites — and favoured the moderate faction of the communist party (Parcham, also Pashtun but Persian-speaking and urbanised for generations). The Soviets realised the civil war was getting out of control, so they invaded the country, overthrew the Khalqists and installed the Parchamists. Regimes may change in Afghanistan — royalist, republican, radical communist, moderate communist, Taliban, and US-installed — but they are always Pashtun.

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  21. It’s actually really easy to say start handing Soviet POWs over to us instead of killing them or we won’t give you stingers anymore. And again these were brain storming ideas it’s that Arkatovas guy that true to character lost his cool and like the poster above pointed out they often took no prisoners because they couldn’t afford to. Change that and maybe their behavior changes. The confederates didn’t have horrible POW camps because they were bad people but because by the third year of the war they were basically starving themselves. For that part of the world the northern aliance isn’t really that bad either (with the huge exception of boy rape). Carrots and sticks might have worked with them.

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  22. The communist didn’t westernize Afghanistan they invaded a partially westernized nation and turned it ino rubble. That’s like looking at 1939 pictures of Berlin in 1947 and saying look how great communist east Berlin looks.

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  23. “…former Soviet soldier Bakhredtin Khakimov was an ethnic Uzbek.”

    Yeah, judging from this video of the son of an Uzeki fighter in Syria, I’m guessing that he fit right in with his new friends: http://youtu.be/pF6IVRMh6sY

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  24. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Did he bring his own food?

    He’s a Central Asian Muslim, practically a cousin to the Afghans. Orthodox Christian ethnic Russians could not have expected to be treated like that.

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  25. The most deplorable one [AKA "Hard Line Realist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “It’s actually really easy to say start handing Soviet POWs over to us instead of killing them or we won’t give you stingers anymore.”

    Oh so sorry mister CIA man, all the Russians had anus problems that wreck’d em. Now you give us more weapons so we can stick them up the asses of the Russians?

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  26. That’s not an argument. That’s just a snotty retort. I’m not seeing any actual arguments just wounded pride because I’m not as impressed with your spitballing as you are.

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  27. “The communists came to power in 1978. Most of those photos were from before the communist coup.” “The communist didn’t westernize Afghanistan they invaded a partially westernized nation and turned it ino rubble. That’s like looking at 1939 pictures of Berlin in 1947 and saying look how great communist east Berlin looks.”

    OK, but even if these pictures were shot for the most part before the communist coup and from the cities, it’s still mind boggling for someone who doesn’t know much about that country or that period to see what Afghanistan was back then and it’s not the communist coup that turned the country into rubble and the Islamist ideology dominant but the arming and the cash given to the mujahideens by the West and the Gulf countries.

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  28. @ Sam Haysom

    >>If soviet soldiers started defecting and were given quarter by the afghani fighters on American orders

    Because we all know how well Afghani’s submit to American orders.

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  29. I worked for Clarence Long back then. I was just a kid in a gopher job, but I met all the characters involved in effort. The movie exaggerated a lot of things, but there were a lot of strange people kicking around DC at the time. Lots of hard drinking, mostly and drugs. I’ve been deeply cynical about politics ever since.

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  30. Afghanistan war may not have been that important for the break-up of the Soviet Union .

    Saudi Arabia’s taking back control of OPEC(a tremendously expensive undertaking) by “opening the spigots” (late 1985) and the resultant low price of oil for years afterward was that important for the break-up of the Soviet Union.

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  31. Maybe this is what you are suggesting athelst, but our support of the afghani resistance likely helped us convince the Saudi’s to open the spigots. After Pakistan they were probally the most supportive of the resistance.

    Daniel. They submit well enough to our orders (their defiance is mostly of the passive aggressive kind portrayed in those jumping jack videos) and they got a lot more room to defy us when we rely on them as we do now than when they relied on us for stingers.

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  32. Ok franktrem but then please tell the Russians that the destruction of Russia during WW2 was their fault and the fault of the lend lease program. Honestly it is really hard to take that argument seriously. Mother Russia is never wrong I get it.

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  33. “Mother Russia is never wrong I get it.”

    Between a mostly White country and Muslim fundementalists, my side is with the former not the latter. Probably she’s not never wrong but she’s certainly not always wrong as some neocons and Cold War nostalgics would suggest.

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  34. The Mujaheddin were simply right because they defended their own home from an imperialist Soviet Union. And just that was understood in the good old days by most people, because most people – even some neocons – were antiimperialists or were at least not as fanatical imperialists as is the fashion nowadays.
    Moreover, meseems that Americans are quite a bit obsessed by male homosexuality. Knowing this, they ought to be somewhat skeptical about Mr. Avrakotos’ ideas and photoes and oughtn’t to take them as reality without further proof.

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  35. The timing might be a little off, but it sounds like someone was influenced by the play Nanawatai, or the movie “The Beast of War” which was adapted from it. Like “Rambo III”, it looks entirely different now than when it was released. Something about us taking on the role previously played by the Soviets.

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  36. WhatEvvs [AKA "Pseudonymph"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Yes there are a lot of stories as to how Bergdahl was captured but all the news accounts do seem to support his squad-mates charges that he amscrayed.

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  37. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    It’s frightening to know that people like North and Perle were in a position to influence policy. The idea seems incomprehensible and hare-brained. But then we were all told the Iraqis would throw roses at us. Makes a person wonder who’s really in charge.

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  38. “German_reader says:
    June 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Ever heard of this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badaber_Uprising”

    Thanks for the link. What a story – poor bastards.

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  39. Lets not conflate Soviet with Russian.

    Some Soviet troops would have been central Asian Muslims, some of whom may have been sympathetic to the mujahideen.

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  40. I didn’t know about “The Beast of War” but Wikipedia says it opens by a quote from a poem by Rudyard Kiplin that could resume this post:

    “When you’re wounded an’ left on Afghanistan’s plains
    An’ the women come out to cut up your remains
    Jus’ roll to your rifle an’ blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”

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  41. The most deplorable one [AKA "Hard Line Realist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “If soviet soldiers started defecting and were given quarter by the afghani fighters on American orders.”

    Like every LibProgTard he talks about stuff that is over and done and about how he could have done so much better.

    Why don’t you put your money where you mouth is and go to Afghanistan and make things better for both them and us?

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  42. Anon 10:12:

    In general, our elites look far more impressive in terms of paper trail and resume than in terms of what they actually know or the quality of decisions they make.

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