Blowback: Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski on Afghanistan
National Security Adviser in the Carter Administration
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs
the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention.
In this period you were the national security adviser to President
Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA
aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the
Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality,
secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was
July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for
secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And
that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to
him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But
perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to
B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but
we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that
they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United
States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was
a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had
the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want
me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the
border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of
giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years,
Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a
conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup
of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic
[intégrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or
the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the
liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated:
Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard
to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam
in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the
leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is
there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco,
Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism?
Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
[This interview was published in French in Le Nouvel Observateur
(France), Jan 15-21, 1998, but it is believed not included in the
edition sent to the United States. Translation from original French
by Bill Blum, author of "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA
Interventions Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the
World's Only Superpower".]