Moscow remembers Charlie Wilsonís War
by Melkulangara K. Bhadrakumar
The subterfuge and ideological drive seen in Senator John McCainís flight to Syria had heavy overtones of the 1980s tour by Charlie Wilson to secure arms for the Afghan mujahideen. McCainís maneuver aligns well with Europe removing an arms embargo and wavering US resistance toward boots on the ground, but this time Russia could respond in kind, posits Ambassador Bhadrakumar.
VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 31 MAY 2013
The hard-partying and influential Texas congressman helped funnel money and weapons to the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet Army in the 1980s on behalf of the United States. His story, including an alleged hot tub-cocaine scandal, inspired a 2007 film starring Tom Hanks, "Charlie Wilsonís War."
Charlie Wilson claimed to be on United States government business even while entertaining the then Egyptian defense minister with a Texan belly dancer he brought along to Cairo with the hope of persuading him to agree to a deal to supply weapons to the Afghan mujahideen in the early 1980s.
George Crile details in the riveting book Charlie Wilsonís War, how the colorful congressman from Texas virtually formed part of the CIAís Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan, which ensured a steady supply of sophisticated weapons such as the Stinger missiles reaching the mujahideen fighting the Soviet Army.
Indeed, the CIA funded the travel expenses of girl friends who accompanied Charlie Wilson on his numerous trips to Pakistan. The agency later conferred on him the Honored Colleague Award for his role in the Afghan jihad.
John McCain, the 77-year old senator from Arizona, certainly wonít push things that far, but eyebrows will be raised that on Monday he crossed the Turkey-Syria border on a clandestine trip accompanied by "General" Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army.
McCain apparently held meetings with Syrian rebel fighters and opposition figures in the Turkish city of Gaziantep and with Idris in tow, crossed the border into Syria where he spent "several hours".
Americaís lawmakers are a law-abiding lot and McCain would know he needed a visa for traveling to Syria and yet he travelled without one. He challenged the Syrian governmentís legitimacy. The plain truth is that McCain sneaked into Syria illegally with the knowledge and possible connivance of the US and Turkish governments.
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