It’s from Juan Cole:
Clinton compared what the US could do in Syria to Ronald Reagan’s effort against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But that covert operation of giving billions of dollars and high-tech weaponry to Afghan jihadis was a huge catastrophe, contributing to the creation and rise of al-Qaeda and setting the background for the emergence of the Taliban. It surely would have been far preferable to let the Soviets try to build a socialist state in Afghanistan, as they tried in Uzbekistan. The whole thing would have fallen apart in 1991 anyway. (There is no truth to the notion that the Afghanistan war bled the Soviet Union or contributed to its collapse. Soviet military spending was flat in the 1980s). The Reagan jihad destabilized both Afghanistan and Pakistan and left us with a long term terrorism problem. We let the Soviets alone in Kazakhstan, and we never worry about today’s Kazakhstan.
You never, ever want to encourage the rise of private militias and flood a country with high-powered weaponry.
Unless you’re John McCain. What Bill Clinton did in backing McCain – and his wife’s neocon instincts – was a real case of the establishment fighting back. But that establishment – including both Clintons and McCain – backed the Iraq catastrophe. Funny they talk about Bosnia and Afghanistan in the 1980s but never mention that, isn’t it?