Brzezinski’s Proxy War Playbook

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by Patrick Mcfarlane, Activist Post:

In 1998, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbiegnew Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that the CIA “knowingly increased the probability” that the Russians would invade Afghanistan by covertly supporting the Mujahideen before the Soviet invasion. Later in that same interview, Brzezinski claims that this covert intervention caused the end of the Soviet Union:

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Brzezinski: 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, essentially: “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 that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

In July 2014, almost six months after the Maidan Revolution and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, Brzezinski hinted at a similar plan for Ukraine, although he couched it in defensive terms.

He wrote on the Atlantic Council’s blog:

If Ukraine has to be supported so that it does resist, the Ukrainians have to know the West is prepared to help them resist. And there’s no reason to be secretive about it. It would be much better to be open about it and to say to the Ukrainians and to those who may threaten Ukraine that if Ukrainians resist, they will have weaponsAnd we’ll provide some of those weapons in advance of the very act of invasion. Because in the absence of that, the temptation to invade and to preempt may become overwhelming. But what kind of weapons is important. And in my view, they should be weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.

In September 2014, Brzezinski revisited the topic in an MSNBC interview:

Brzezinski: For the moment, the NATO alliance—as well as Europe and America jointly—have not been giving military aid to Ukraine. But I would not exclude the possibility of some defensive weaponry being given to the Ukrainians before too long, simply if the Russians, and particularly Putin, continue to try to intimidate Ukraine. That’s not the same thing as defending them; it’s helping them defend themselves.

MSNBC: Is that the middle path you think the United States is going to take—something more than economic sanctions, but less than proxy war?

Brzezinski: I think so. It seems to me that if we really are serious about Ukraine having the right to be an independent state with a friendly relationship with Europe, but not necessarily a member of NATO, and if Ukraine is not only threatened but actually victimized by Russia using force, then some defensive arms — publicly given — but only defensive weaponry, handed over to the Ukrainians makes eminent sense. It contributes to greater stability and it’s more likely to deter Mr. Putin than if he’s in effect given the green light to use as much force as he feels like.

Despite Brzezinski’s defensive framing in Ukraine, Washington’s support for the Ukrainian military bears many similarities to its support of the Mujahideen.

The first documented CIA support to the Mujahideen came in July 1979 when “a small political action program [was approved] to support the burgeoning [Afghan] insurgency through Pakistan.” After the invasion, Washington’s clandestine assistance to the Mujahideen sought to “get arms in [their] hands and keep them fighting.”

These efforts consisted of sales of military equipment through the Pakistani ISI. The most effective support included the transfer of Stinger missiles, which equipped the Mujahideen to destroy Russian helicopters. In the Reagan years, these transfers were facilitated by the deployment of “CIA Special Activities Division paramilitary officers.”

In early February 1980, Brzezinski visited Pakistan for a series of meetings with then-Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq to discuss American support to Pakistan in the wake of the Soviet invasion. As a part of the delegation, Brzezinski made a “symbolic visit” to Afghan refugees in the Khyber Pass. Speaking of the Mujahideen, he told the refugees:

We know of their deep belief in God and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail. And you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.

In January 2022, a month before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was revealed by US intelligence officials that the CIA had been providing covert assistance to the Ukrainian military since 2014. The program began under Barack Obama, was expanded under Donald Trump, and continued under Joe Biden. According to Yahoo News:

The multiweek, U.S.-based CIA program has included training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like “cover and move,” intelligence and other areas, according to former officials.

…The program has involved “very specific training on skills that would enhance” the Ukrainians’ “ability to push back against the Russians,” said the former senior intelligence official.

The training, which has included “tactical stuff,” is “going to start looking pretty offensive if Russians invade Ukraine,” said the former official.

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