Stinger Missiles to “We Have Some Planes”

My research topic investigates the American intervention in the 1979-89 Invasion of Afghanistan by Communist Russia and its subsequent effects including the September 11 attacks. This research is important because much of the current US involvement in Afghanistan as well as the chaos that captivates the Middle East can be traced back to the the funding of the Mujahideen in the 1970-80s.

Many other scholarly research and historical analysis on this subject is very critical of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan. For example, one source, Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars, retells the history in an objective light. However, in doing so, the book clearly unshrouds the vast incompetence and ignorance of American intelligence operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East and the inability to recognize terrorism as a real threat until it was too late. The official US documentation of the 9/11 attacks, the 9/11 Commission Report, depict a similarly bleak retrospective on the American efforts in the Middle East. In this report, the 9/11 Commission contends that US investigation operations – including the CIA and FBI – failed to identify terrorism as the serious threat that it was, and had the two agencies acted with more diligence and aggression, the attacks could have been potentially stopped. In conducting my research, I want to examine other factors that could have potentially swayed the attacks. These include the rise of Wahhabism emanating from oil-rich Saudi Arabia in engendering Islamic extremism. Also important are geological factors, including Afghanistan’s existence as a classic buffer state, where its surrounding countries are all vying for territory and power. Essentially, I do not plan on denying the impact and failure of US foreign policy, but I want to investigate whether Islamic extremism was an inevitability in the socio-political context of 1980s Afghanistan and Middle East.


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