February 10th, 2010
06:54 PM ET

Charlie Wilson dead at 76

Former congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas died Wednesday at age 76, a Texas hospital said. The flamboyant congressman inspired the book and movie "Charlie Wilson's War," which told the story of Wilson's efforts to get weapons to mujahedeen fighters after Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

In the early 1980s, Wilson, a staunch anti-Communist, decided to help Afghan rebels in their war against the invading Soviet Union. Over several years, working behind the scenes, his efforts to raise funds through his defense subcommittee and to negotiate support from Middle Eastern countries helped the Afghans take the upper hand and eventually forced the Soviets out of the country.

Some people criticized the 2007 film because it didn't do much to highlight what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviets left: the Taliban's takeover of the country and al Qaeda's use of the nation as a base. Wilson was asked in 2008 about the consequences of helping the mujahedeen fighters.  "I don't think there was a serious blowback," Wilson said. "I think there was the point that [author] George Crile made in the [book's] epilogue, that the Muslims saw that they took down one superpower and then the radical ones thought they could take down another one. But they're wrong."

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Filed under: Daily Developments
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. RT

    We side for what we think is right.

    Unluckily, it might be the wrong side; it looks like the main cause of the problem was not properly addressed by the invaders/financiers/fomentors/ttormentors/tyrants/agitators/supporters/hyenas – let us call them what they are as applicable; otherwise, there should be true peace by now in Afghanistan.

    February 12, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. J. Anderson

    A. Smith's indictment is both overly simplistic and misinformed. Firstly , the Pakistani ISI has existed since the founding of the Pakistani state, so neither Charlie Wilson nor CIA helped "create" it. Second, CIA did not train Arabs in Afghanistan; the Mujahideen were primarily Pashtuns, Tajiks and some Uzbeks and Hazaras. The Arab fighters the eventually became Al-Qaeda were viewed with great suspicion by the Agency. Did some of the supplied weaponry end up in Qaeda hands? No doubt. But Bin Laden, his money, and members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad are responsible for creating Al-Qaeda, not CIA or Charlie Wilson. Thirdly, the Agency trained and supplied many different Muj factions, including Massoud's group in the Panjshir, which formed the nucleus of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. The Taliban formed out of a vacuum. The lack of accountability for where weaponry ended up was a result of the absence of nation-building after the Soviets left. Wilson pushed for nation-building but was shot down by both Congress and the executive branch. Had Wilson had his way, the conditions that resulted in the emergence of the Taliban would not have existed. It is important to note the strategic and moral victory of Wilson's efforts-had the Soviets won in Afghanistan, the entire strategic situation in the Gulf would have deteriorated. Further, Soviet atrocities against the Afghan people would have gone unimpeded. To call his evil and a monster is arrogant and unfounded.

    February 12, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    This monster helped create the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the dreaded ISA Pakistan agency which is continuing to murder thousands of Pakistan and Afghanistan civilians every year for the past 28 years. Some of the stinger missiles this monster supplied to the Taliban ended up in Africa where they were used to shoot down at least one if not two civilian jetliners. Charlie Wilson in my opinion deserves no respect nor anything but a thankful sendoff to the recycle bin where all such evil people are sent when they die here on earth.

    February 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Susan Brunner

    R.I.P. My respects.

    February 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harley Roy

    My wife and I had the pleasure to ride through the lone star state on our "old hog". We live in Germany and still remember the texan hospitality. Rest in peace Charlie, don't take any wooden nickles !! whether upstairs or downstairs!! and from an old former british soldier you had the right idea. Sad so few people listened.

    February 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |