Editorial: “If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you”

President Ronald Reagan met with Afghani guerrilla fighters promising money and weapons to kill Russian (Soviet) troops.
President Ronald Reagan met with Afghani guerrilla fighters promising money and weapons to kill Russian (Soviet) troops.

By Fighting Words Staff

George C. Parker (1860-1936) became famous in New York City as the great con-man who repeatedly sold the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and Madison Square Garden to gullible victims.

So when the New York Times (June 26, 2020) printed the “story” about the Russian government paying bounties to the Afghan Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers still in Afghanistan one had to wonder if the Times was also going to try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to its readers.

The Times cited “unnamed sources” and the following media barrage has continued to be vague about documentation. Even top U.S. generals expressed skepticism about the story.

The first question that should be asked, before you “buy the bridge,” is what are U.S. troops doing in that distant land 19 years after the invasion of 2001? It was just following the destruction of the World Trade Center by Saudi operatives (not Afghani). And, as invaders, they ought to expect to be shot at and have been shot at since day one. The United States isn’t the first imperialist power to try to take control of Afghanistan. The First Anglo-Afghan War dates back to 1841.

The Pentagon reports that only 6 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of 2020. If the report on millions of dollars in Russian bounties were true, they certainly aren’t getting much for their money. And what, for heaven’s sake, would Russia get out of such a program?

It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves about how the U.S. paid many billions of dollars in weapons, supplies and cash to create and build up the Taliban in Afghanistan when socialists took over the Afghan government in April 1978. This prompted the largest CIA covert operation to overturn that revolution. In 1979 the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan asked for their neighbor, the Soviet Union, to help them against the CIA-Taliban alliance. Soviet troops and supplies streamed in and the U.S. increased their  financing of subversion.and the killing of Soviet troops. Ten years later the Soviet Union withdrew and three years after that the socialist government was overturned.

We should never forget how public opinion was manipulated by the Pentagon/media collusion using the “Gulf of Tonkin attack” which served to push the U.S. deeper into the Vietnam War. Of course there never was a Gulf of Tonkin attack.

The capitalist media also played a willing role in selling the “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” story to justify the invasion of Iraq. So what if weapons of mass destruction were never found after the war and occupation of that oil rich country.

And here we are again. The Russian bounty story is tailor made to do a job that a large section of the U.S. ruling class desires – to deepen hostility to Russia and weaken the Trump administration. But, just like the impeachment over Ukraine issues, this section of the ruling class doesn’t want to further rouse up the broad masses of the population. Trump can be, and should be, blasted for his attacks on African Americans, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, workers and the poor. But that might get out of hand and result in protests even bigger than “Black Lives Matter” protests that could challenge the entire rule of the capitalist class.

There is no reason to believe the Russian bounty story. History and experience should be causing alarm bells to go off as a warning. But if you still do believe it, we’d like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge at a discount.

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