The Abdul Haq
Fiasco: The Story Gets Worse
U.S. Continues Its History of Not
Supporting Those It Encourages to Revolt
October 28, 2001
As most followers of the
increasingly benighted U.S. war effort in Afghanistan now know, Abdul Haq, a
former guerrilla commander who was seen by some American officials as the
potential leader of an anti-Taliban uprising, was just caught
by the Taliban inside Afghanistan and executed.
At first it was reported that
the only assistance Haq had received from the United States was a satellite
phone. That's pathetic. The guy is trying to foment a revolt
against the Taliban from inside Afghanistan, and all we give him is a
Well, that would mean that at
least if he were in danger, he could call supporting aircraft and our forces
would rescue him, right?
When Haq realized he was
surrounded by Taliban troops, he apparently called Robert McFarlane, Ronald
Reagan's national security advisor, who in turn called the CIA, which passed
on Haq's coordinates to the military.
Stories have differed as to
whether any U.S. warplanes attempted a rescue. The latest account,
in The Washington Post, is that an unmanned CIA drone aircraft armed
with antitank missiles attempted to prevent Haq's capture by the Taliban.
Why didn't Haq have direct
link to a manned aircraft that could have rescued him? He had
to play the game of telephone while his life was in danger? Fomenting
an anti-Taliban revolt is not worth allocating some live Special Ops support
What makes the story even
more galling is that now Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirms
that Haq did receive some additional kind of U.S. intelligence
assistance. So even in an assisted operation, this is how we protect
The topper is Rumsfeld's
unfortunately, was from the air, and he was on the ground.
And regrettably, he was
A statement of more
incoherent banality would be hard to imagine.
The Abdul Haq fiasco fits in
with past U.S. instances of failing to help those we encourage to revolt.
For example, at the last
minute, President John F. Kennedy withdrew air support from the Cuban exiles
in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and they were slaughtered. More recently,
the U.S. encouraged the Kurds to revolt against Saddam Hussein, and then
abandoned the Kurds to Hussein's revenge.
How easy is it going to be
now for the U.S. to convince any Afghan that our support will be there if
they undertake anti-Taliban action?
One final note: even though
he was strongly anti-Taliban, Abdul Haq opposed
the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan:
He said that the bombing
was a terrible mistake, that it was rallying Afghans around the besieged
Could it be that Haq wasn't a
compliant enough anti-Taliban leader for the Bush administration, that the
U.S. deliberately let Haq be killed in order to silence a potentially
powerful voice against the U.S. bombing?