The Magazine

They Always Blame Reagan...

His backing of Afghan mujahedeen did not create the Taliban.

Oct 8, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 04 • By PAUL KENGOR
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The mujahedeen would have existed irrespective of U.S. policy--ditto for Osama bin Laden. The Afghan resistance coalesced without us. Our objective was to help it win, and thereby further undermine the Soviet Union at a desperate time in its history. It was the Soviet invasion that drew Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan, not U.S. aid to the resistance. As Olivier Roy wrote in Afghanistan: From Holy War to Civil War: "The mujahedeen consisted of .  .  . elements or factions that all interpreted Islam differently but were united in a common cause--to expel the infidel Soviets."

Finally, anyone who would blame Reagan for supporting the mujahedeen must also point the finger at Democrats: As noted above, it was Jimmy Carter who first began aiding the mujahedeen, at the urging of top advisers like Zbigniew Brzezinski and with the support of a Democratic Congress. And many Democratic congressmen and senators continued to vote to authorize the aid through the Reagan years. Helping the mujahedeen was a no-brainer: It was the right thing to do.

Paul Kengor is the author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperCollins, 2006) and God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life (Harper-Collins, 2007). He is associate professor of political science at Grove City College.