The late George Crile's book, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, tells the tale of the CIA's secret support of the Islamic mujahadeen's ultimately successful war against the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Red Army. Pushed by Democratic east Texas Congressman "Goodtime" Charlie Wilson, the CIA armed and financed Afghan tribes' guerrilla forces to the point that the Red Army suffered their equivalent of Viet Nam, which set the stage for the Soviet Union's collapse.
Taught by the CIA to wage a high-tech hit-and-run war of resistance, the mujahadeen became the foundation for the Islamic fundamentalist movement that has come back to bite its sponsors in a big way.
The intricate details of Congressional logrolling, secret defense spending, and illegal CIA foreign policy involvement, and how they revolved around Wilson's personal foibles, make this book fascinating reading. How the CIA secretly armed, trained, and financed the mujahadeen with our tax dollars makes it required reading to fully understand today's political morass.
(Tom Hanks is producing and starring in a movie version that will be released this winter. Read the book now before the details get lost in the publicity shuffle.)
- Barry Orton