Blowback in Russia?
December 31, 2013
Below is an article from today’s NY Times entitled “Bomb Attacks Echo Threats by Chechen Insurgent.” And it made me think of something I had recently read in a book entitled Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, by Steve Coll. Here are some of the relevant passages.
“Drawing on his experiences running dissident Polish exiles as agents behind Nazi lines, [William] Casey [head of the CIA under Reagan] decided to revive the CIA’s propaganda proposals targeting Central Asia. . . .As [Mohammed] Yousaf recalled it, Casey said that there was a large Muslim population across the Amu Darya [River] that could be stirred to action and could ‘do a lot of damage to the Soviet Union.’ The CIA director talked about the propaganda efforts but went further. Casey said, according to Yousaf, ‘We should take the books and try to raise the local population against them, and you can also think of sending arms and ammunition if possible.’ . . .Robert Gates, Casey’s executive assistant and later CIA director, has confirmed that Afghan rebels ‘began cross-border operations in the Soviet Union itself’ during the spring of 1985. These operations included ‘raising cain on the Soviet side of the border.’ The attacks too place, according to Gates, ‘with Casey’s encouragement.’” [p. 104]
The CIA, of course, has denied these assertions but as Coll says, “Gates’ account appears unambiguous, and Yousaf’s recollections are precise. It would hardly be unusual for Casey to pursue covert action outside the boundaries of presidential findings. . . .And as Gates reflected later, referring more generally to his sense of mission, Casey had not come to the CIA ‘with the purpose of making it better, managing it more effectively, reforming it, or improving the quality of intelligence. . . . Bill Casey came to the CIA primarily to wage war against the Soviet Union.’” [p. 105]
So, perhaps, the current terrorism has it roots at least partially in Bill Casey’s war against the Soviet Union. Of course, the Soviet Union is gone but Russia remains, as do some Muslims who are still willing and able to make war against Russia. And perhaps the “rewards” of Casey’s belligerence will be felt at the Olympics in Sochi. But then when you are willing “to play hardball,” these are the kinds of repercussions you should expect. They are the price of making war covertly or, as some might say, of encouraging terrorists to do your bidding.