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2007-05-24

Carter Planted Seeds Of Al-Qaida - Profile In Incompetence

President Jimmy Carter and General Secretary of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev exchanged American-style handshakes and Russian-style embraces on June 19, 1979, after signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) Agreement. Six months later, the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan.



By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Leadership: After being told over and over by President Jimmy Carter that America's ability to influence world events was "very limited," the Soviet Union believed him and invaded Afghanistan. And al-Qaida was born.

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Carter had the perfect "anti-slogan" for a post-Watergate presidential campaign: "I will never lie to you."

Unfortunately, Carter based America's relationship with the Soviet Union on the delusion that the Russians would never lie to him. He infamously expressed shock that Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev lied to him during a "hot line" phone call following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

But signals of weakness to the communists from the worst, most naïve president in American history began days after inauguration:

• "As I understand your highly important speech in Tula, the Soviet Union will not strive for superiority in arms," Carter wrote Brezhnev in January 1977, less than a week after his inauguration.

• In the same letter, Carter told the communist dictator of America's and the Soviet Union's "common efforts towards formation of a more peaceful, just and humane world," adding, "I hope that our countries can cooperate more closely in order to promote the development, better diet and more substantive life" of the world's poor.

Global diet, it turned out, was not Brezhnev's chief priority.

By the time Carter and Brezhnev were literally kissing and hugging one another at the signing of the SALT II accords in Vienna in June of 1979, there already had been a KGB-assisted communist coup in Afghanistan more than a year earlier.

But the U.S. under Carter wouldn't, and according to the Carter administration couldn't, act to change that or much of anything else in the world:

• Carter had already announced to Russia and the world in his June 1977 Notre Dame speech that "we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear."

• The New York Times admiringly noted that "the Carter Administration has remained completely calm regarding the coup in Afghanistan, where the leaders of a small, communist party took power in Kabul," adding that, "Ten years ago, every communist victory was considered a clear defeat for the United States. Today, the majority of Americans believe the world is more complex."

Impotence, in fact, was a badge of honor in the Carter administration. According to British historian Paul Johnson, "The only point on which Carter's men agreed was on America's declining ability to control events." To whit:

• Cyrus Vance, Carter's first secretary of state and one of the architects of Vietnam policy in the Johnson administration, believed "we can no more stop change than Canute could still the waters."

• Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski believed "the world is changing under the influence of forces no government can control."

• Carter himself, speaking to reporters in January 1979 about the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, a little less than a year before the Soviet invasion, assured the world, "Certainly we have no desire or ability to intrude massive forces into Iran or any other country . . ."

Carter promised: "This is something that we have no intention of ever doing in another country. We've tried this once in Vietnam. It didn't work, as you well know."

Even Democrats revolted. Shortly before the invasion, onetime Hubert Humphrey foreign policy adviser and future UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick formed the Committee on the Present Danger to warn America of the consequences of diminished U.S. power.

So setting the stage for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was a president who:

• Repeatedly made it clear he blindly accepted Soviet lies.

• Declared over and over that the U.S. doesn't have the ability, never mind the will, to intervene militarily anywhere in the world.

• Proved America's weakness by allowing and assisting the fall of a pro-American regime in Iran, and doing nothing about the Soviet-backed April, 1978 coup in Afghanistan — plus withdrawing support for the Somoza regime in Nicaragua, leading to the Cuban-backed Sandinista revolution in July, 1979.

The Carter administration had made it crystal clear to the Kremlin that the U.S. would do little if anything to oppose the brutal influx of tens of thousands of Soviet troops that began moving into Afghanistan on Christmas Eve in 1979.

They were right. Carter's tepid response to the aggression was:

• An ineffectual grain embargo.

• A boycott of the Moscow Olympics that hurt American athletes more than anyone.

• An announcement from the president in an address to the nation shortly after New Year's in 1980 that "Fishing privileges for the Soviet Union in United States waters will be severely curtailed."

The invasion enraged Osama bin Laden, who went to Afghanistan to join the resistance. There, he met Palestinian radical Muslim scholar Abdullah Azzam, whose slogan was "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences, no dialogues."

According to author Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning history of al-Qaida, "The Looming Tower," "Bin Laden revered Azzam," who would travel to Saudi Arabia and hold "recruiting sessions in bin Laden's apartment, where he magnetized young Saudis with his portraits of the suffering of the refugees and the courage of the Afghan mujahideen."

Azzam "provided a model for the man (bin Laden) would become," writes Wright.

Together, bin Laden and Azzam founded the mujahideen base Maktab al-Khidamat, or the Afghan Services Bureau. Afghanistan is also where bin Laden met Ayman al-Zawahiri, who would help him found Maktab's successor group — al-Qaida.

Unintended consequences are a common feature of world history. As Jimmy Carter takes snipes at the current president, Americans should not forget that Carter's insistence that America must be weak led directly to Islamic mass murderers becoming powerful enough to slaughter thousands of innocent Americans — and to their current ambition to incinerate millions of us.

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