Interview: U.S.’s 35-Year Afghan War; “Freedom Fighters’ Now Terrorists
Voice of Russia
February 23, 2013
The USSR brought peace, the USA brought war – interview with Dr. Gulzad
Dr. Zalmay Gulzad spoke to the Voice of Russia’s John Robles about the history of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and about how the USSR assisted the Afghan people and built almost everything there is in the country. Dr. Gulzad details how the U.S. turned their own “freedom fighters” into the very “terrorists” that they are now fighting and he says the U.S. wants to stay in Afghanistan for a very long time due to its strategic geopolitical location.
Hello. This is John Robles, I’m talking with Dr. Zalmay Gulzad. He is a professor at Harold Washington College in Chicago, in the political science department.
Robles: Hello Sir. How are you this evening?
Gulzad: Very good, thank you very much.
Robles: First question I’d like to ask you. Now, you were born in Afghanistan and live in the U.S., you work in the U.S. How do you feel about the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States of America?
Gulzad: Let me start with this: I was a young member of the PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan). I supported the Afghan revolution. Unfortunately at that time I was in the United States, but I did support the revolution in Afghanistan and I supported the Soviet Union’s support for the Afghan revolution.
There was one Soviet Union journalist, Vladimir Pozner, during the Soviet time; he and I did a review, “Question and Answer for American people”. I was a student, I was getting my PhD and he came to Madison, Wisconsin. I know Vladimir Pozner very well and we met.
So, my point is that it is an aggression. These are the people who the United States supported, they are the criminals, they’re bandits, the so-called “freedom fighters,” because they were fighting the Soviets and communism and all this.
And today the same people are attacking the United States and they call them terrorists. Why didn’t they call them terrorists in the 1980s?
Robles: I’ve been trying to get that point across to a lot of people and people are missing that for some reason.
Gulzad: 15,000 Soviet troops were killed in the fight against these bandits, but the United States always went with the short victories, went with the criminals. The criminals that they trained: Bin Laden and the Arab terrorists, and the Pakistanis, and all these Taliban and Mujahidin, and they turned against them (U.S.).
Unfortunately, this land of democracy that I live in is a joke because nobody is asking their leader: Why did you make that mistake? “I used to call them freedom fighters, today they are terrorists.” How come it changed in one day?
Robles: Do you have any details yourself about how the Taliban got their start, how al-Qaeda got their start, how Osama Bin Laden got his start fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan?
Gulzad: After the 1978 Afghan revolution, the Soviet Union recognized us and most progressive countries in the world recognized that revolution.
Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States. He started it, with Zbigniew Brzezinski. Yhey started it to arm, to find the people to oppose the Afghan state because they considered, they thought, that this is the soft underbelly of the Soviet Union.
They thought that from Afghanistan they were going to infiltrate into the Muslim Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
So what they did…Now, they couldn’t find too many Afghans, very few Afghans opposed it, because the Communist government gave them land and everything else, so they couldn’t find too many Afghans.
So, what they did is they went to Anwar Sadat and to the Arab reactionary regimes, they found unemployed Arabs, unemployed Pakistanis. (The Pakistani regime was a dictatorship, not only military, but it was a religious Zia-ul-Haq regime in Pakistan.)
What they did, they brought all these criminals to Pakistan, which is bordering with Afghanistan for almost 1,000 miles. So what they did, the CIA started training them and sending them to kill the Afghans, destroy the Afghan revolution.
So, then naturally, naturally, it is a very natural thing, the Soviet Union had to…because there was a friendship treaty with Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union and Afghanistan signed the friendship treaty in September 1978.
So according to that treaty the Afghan government was able to ask the Soviet Union, in case they were in trouble, to ask for the Soviet Union to help and the Soviet Union provided that help.
So, the point is that the United States taught these criminals, dropped them there to fight not only the Afghan Communists, but then they thought they will make it the Soviet Union but now…And that is how all that process started through Pakistan. Pakistan was a reactionary regime of the military.
So, Afghanistan became a sandwich between two, Shia and Sunni, Muslim fundamentalists.
Robles: Can you give us a few more details? Can you compare what the United States is doing now and what the Soviet Union was doing when they were in there, in Afghanistan? Because now some people are trying to say: “Oh, well!! The Soviet Union “INVADED” Afghanistan…The Soviet Union…
Gulzad: I fight it every day. I fought it even at that time when Ronald Reagan was in power. Vladimir Pozner will be a witness on that.
We had a Progressive Afghan Student Organization and I was the head of it.
My point is that you cannot compare the Soviet Union because Afghanistan People’s Democratic Party had the same ideology as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
So, the idea was that Afghanistan’s PDPA was giving land – Afghanistan was a very poor country, an almost feudal society – so we were giving land to the poor. What person is going to rise against you if you give them a piece of land? If you teach their daughter and son?
They (the U.S.S.R.) built schools, they built everything that is in Afghanistan today, I am telling you as an Afghan. Every road, highway, dam, factory, airport that you can see, the infrastructure of Afghanistan was made by the USSR.
Robles: Few people know that.
Gulzad: Including Bagram where today the American imperialists are sitting there. It is the Soviet Union that built everything.
Thousands of Afghan students, including my brother, became educated in the Soviet Union. I mean “what the hell?” people are going to…It was not the people!
Do you know that there was a recent interview on BBC and on CNN. They went to Kandahar and to Ghazni, two cities in Afghanistan. They were asking people…An Afghan farmer he spit on the American journalist!
He said: “The Soviet Union brought a lot of things to this country, peace, but you brought war.”
Certainly! And they showed it on TV, I saw it on BBC and Aljazeera.
Robles: So, what is the real situation in Afghanistan right now, after almost 13 years of U.S. occupation?
Gulzad: My point is this: that if you want to stop this war, you should go to Pakistan. Pakistan is a very poor country. Pakistan is controlling the Taliban, al-Qaeda, everybody.
If the United States wants to stop this war, then the United States could squeeze Pakistan economically and in many ways. Pakistan is a joke.
So, my point is that the United States wants to prolong this war because they want to stay in Afghanistan.
The United States has total control economically and militarily over Pakistan.
End of part 1
You were listening to an interview with Dr. Zalmay Gulzad – a professor at Harold Washington College in Chicago. You can find part 2 on our website at english.ruvr.ru.