[credit provider=”via Wikimedia Commons” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reagan_meets_Afghan_Mujahideen.jpg”]
As the public debates some of the more controversial ways the US deals with foreign policy and safety, it’s prudent to remember some of the less than fruitful foreign policy items where America invested its time and money.This photograph is from 1983, when Reagan and the CIA were dancing around the idea of arming Mujahadin fighters in order to fight back against Soviet incursion in Afghanistan. The result was a well-armed, well-trained group of jihadis who resisted (some say defeated) the onslaught of superior Soviet weaponry.
Once the Soviets retreated, the U.S. lost interest and pulled the funding. Osama bin Laden took interest, and filled the vacuum, later fathering the Taliban.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Often erroneously paired with this photo is a Reagan quote, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of the founding fathers.”
Reagan was in fact referring to Nicaraguan fighters and another initiative to arm them, this time against the U.S.’s own treaties.
We all know how that worked out as well.
The U.S. recently cut its fleets in the Persian Gulf from two strike groups to one. A defence department under Chuck Hagel will certainly have a smaller footprint, both out of financial necessity as well as the changing face of foreign policy.
President Obama, though denying he armed rebels in Syria, has sought a softer approach to international relations — one where obligations, strings, aren’t as easily attached to the U.S.
This is a new reality, for better or worse. Looking at this photo, we remember. Maybe a smaller footprint is for the better.