Neglect, not malfeasance

by Andrew Sprung

A reader writes:

The charge that the civil war in Afghanistan after 1988 was fomented by the US, and that Sec. Gates has elided this in order to defend a faulty prediction about Najibullah, is absurd. The story is much, much more complex. Najibullah was very nearly overthrown in early 1990; Bhutto's government next door fell a few months later; Hekmatyar switched sides many times; and a hundred other things make the story of a stable or stabilizing postwar regime undercut by revenge-seeking outsiders preposterous. I'm not saying there weren't plenty of support networks still in operation in the shadows during this period. But they hardly disprove Gates' point. Afghanistan was no longer a priority.

The US was a strong supporter of the Geneva accords but after 1989 its focus had shifted to many other areas besides Afghanistan. We neglected the country badly, and it was neglect, in my opinion, rather than malfeasance, which fomented the civil war that began in earnest soon after the Soviet left, however long Najibullah remained nominally in power.