Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Wilson. I knew I was going to be meeting him so the weekend before I watched "Charlie Wilson's War". I had no idea until watching the movie, the history this man had made and that I was living in the future that it brought.
Charlie's war was the catalyst that brought down the Soviet Empire in the 80's. It was a relatively small war between Afghanistan and the Soviets, but such an important one.
"That was the experience that will always be seared in my memory, was going through those hospitals and seeing, especially those children with their hands blown off from the mines that the Soviets were dropping from their helicopters. That was perhaps the deciding thing... and it made a huge difference for the next 10 or 12 years of my life because I left those hospitals determined, as long as I had a breath in my body and was a member in Congress, that I was going to do what I could to make the Soviets pay for what they were doing!"
Charlie Wilson led the largest ever covert CIA operation in US history. Appropriating enough money and weapons to the Afghans that they were able to successfully defeat a super power.
What happened after the war was won is something Charlie regrets even today. We just left. We left a broken country that had no leadership but many weapons of war. The appropriating committee was no longer willing to give money to Afghanistan once the war was over.
In his own words "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world... and then we f'd up the endgame."
Charlie Wilson has a great respect for the Afghans and called them the bravest, fiercest fighters he had ever seen. He also said that what we need to remember is that 2/3 of the Afghans are with us. 2/3's of the Afghans also want Al-Qaeda out of their country. Although it is terrorist groups from this country that were responsible for 9/11 there is some thought to be given to the fact that the groups developed as a result of leaving a country broken and defenseless after they fought a war that ended decades of communist rule from the Soviet empire.
He believes that we should stay in Afghanistan and rid the country of the terrorists that now hide there.
People like Charlie Wilson are so intriguing to me. They are reckless, the kind of reckless that can produce amazing things.