Charlie Wilson Is Dead, But His War Is Alive And Well


WASHINGTON POST: DALLAS — Charlie Wilson, the former U.S. congressman from Texas whose funding of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Soviet Union was chronicled in the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” has died. He was 76. Wilson represented the 2nd district in east Texas in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1996 and was known as “Good Time Charlie” when he was in Washington. Actor Tom Hanks portrayed Wilson in the 2007 movie about Wilson’s efforts to arm Afghani mujahedeen during their war against the Soviet Union. Wilson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, helped secure money for weapons. MORE

THE ECONOMIST: FOR months now US Marines in Helmand, Afghanistan’s bloodiest province, have been sporting T-shirts proclaiming their intention: “Just do Marja”. This refers to a cluster of Taliban-controlled villages close to Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Marja’s lawlessness and the protection it affords to insurgents and drug-traffickers has been frustrating the marines’ efforts in nearby areas. The T-shirt wearers are about to get their wish. American forces, led by the Marines, are preparing a big operation to clear the area. Unusually, NATO has made no secret of its plans and for some time has been loudly publicising “Operation Mushtarak” (or “togetherness” in Pushtun). They hope this will encourage civilians to get out of harm’s way. They also hope that the mere prospect of NATO and Afghan soldiers massing on Marja will prompt insurgents to leave via three unsealed exit corridors. Neither hope has been entirely realised. Thousands of civilians have abandoned their homes and headed for nearby cities and an overcrowded refugee camp on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah. But others say they have been prevented from leaving by the Taliban, who have been digging in, and by the improvised explosive devices with which they have been seeding the roads. Mark Sedwill, NATO’s civilian representative in Afghanistan, advised locals to stay indoors and keep their heads down. Marja is being billed as an important test and advertisement for the counter-insurgency strategy of Stanley McChrystal, the American and NATO commander in Afghanistan. He says the follow-up work to maintain security and build a semblance of basic governance will matter more than the initial fight. Mr Sedwill believes Marja residents will learn the benefits of better governance, economic opportunities and of living under legitimate authorities. MORE

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