Wilson on Afghanistan

Story by Chris Graham

Afghanistan was Charlie Wilson’s War in the 1980s.

A quarter century after the Texas congressman began maneuvering to get the United States involved in the fight between Afghans and the Soviet Red Army, another Texan is in charge in the Middle Eastern conflict.

And Wilson thinks the Bush administration could end up doing the right thing in Afghanistan.

“I have to give credit where credit’s due – and this administration started out very well in Afghanistan. After they invaded, and after the Taliban fell, they were putting great emphasis on infrastructure development – on schools, hospitals, electrical wiring, reestablishing the sheepherds, that kind of thing,” Wilson told me yesterday during a press conference at the Washington and Lee University Mock Democratic Party Convention in Lexington.
“But after the Iraq war started, that all stopped. And all of the people with AID and the CIA and the Special Forces, in particular, were pulled out of Afghanistan, and went to Iraq. And it just stopped on a dime,” Wilson said.

But it seems that the administration has its attention back to where it needs to be as far as Afghanistan is concerned, according to Wilson, who retired from Congress in 1996 and was recently the subject of a major motion picture, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” about U.S. involvement in the Afghani-Soviet conflict in the 1980s.

“Now they’re beginning to look at Afghanistan again because I guess it’s because Iraq is a little less demanding than it was,” Wilson said.
“I’m hoping they get back to where they were. That’s what it’ll take. It takes patience, it takes some imagination, and it takes commitment,” Wilson said.

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