Bored today, I checked out the NYTimes Web site and came across an article about Russia's withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s. Because this article is in the archives, the Times won't let me link to it, but here's the lead (note the second paragraph):
Moscow, Feb. 18, 1989: The last Soviet soldier came home from Afghanistan this morning, the Soviet Union announced, leaving behind a war that had become a domestic burden and an international embarrassment for Moscow.
The final Soviet departure came on the day set as a deadline by the Geneva accords last April. It left two heavily armed adversaries, the Kremlin-backed Government of President Najibullah and a fractious but powerful array of Muslim insurgents, backed by the United States and Pakistan, to conclude their civil war on their own.
What a difference a decade makes, huh. Now, I know this isn't breaking news and I'm not trying to imply that what Afghanistan was for Moscow, Iraq will be for Washington, but, nevertheless, it is ironic that the very same people we now vilify, we once backed. Like really backed. I'm talking guns, money and rations here.
Shouldn't a bitter irony like this make us, as a country, think twice before we throw around terms today like "enemy combatant" or "evil-doer"? Would it be too complicated for us to consider the fact that a word like "enemy" really is quite nebulous. Would it be too complicated to consider the fact that hate and rage, too, are incredibly nebulous concepts and can't be arbitrarily linked with or crammed into vogue, propagandistic phrases?
Or does the government, in its efforts to make such concepts digestible to the American public, like to sum up feelings, ideas and philosophies in one or two words.
Keep it simple, stupid.
Finally, would it be too painful to consider the fact that we did, in all actuality, collaborate with militant Muslims whom we now deem as inhuman to fight another force, the U.S.S.R, whom we also once labeled as inhuman?