Le Nouvel Observateur: Former CIA director Robert Gates states in his memoirs: The American secret services began six months before the Soviet intervention to support the Mujahideen [in Afghanistan]. At that time you were president Carters security advisor; thus you played a key role in this affair. Do you confirm this statement?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version, the CIA's support for the Mujahideen began in 1980, i.e. after the Soviet army's invasion of Afghanistan on 24 December 1979. But the reality, which was kept secret until today, is completely different: Actually it was on 3 July 1979 that president Carter signed the first directive for the secret support of the opposition against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day I wrote a note, in which I explained to the president that this support would in my opinion lead to a military intervention by the Soviets.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Despite this risk you were a supporter of this covert action? But perhaps you expected the Soviets to enter this war and tried to provoke it?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: It's not exactly like that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene but we knowingly increased the probability that they would do it.
Le Nouvel Observateur: When the Soviets justified their intervention with the statement that they were fighting against a secret US interference in Afghanistan, nobody believed them. Nevertheless there was a core of truth to this...Do you regret nothing today?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Regret what? This secret operation was an excellent idea. It lured the Russians into the Afghan trap, and you would like me to regret that? On the day when the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote president Carter, in essence: "We now have the opportunity to provide the USSR with their Viet Nam war." Indeed for ten years Moscow had to conduct a war that was intolerable for the regime, a conflict which involved the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire.
Le Nouvel Observateur: And also, don't you regret having helped future terrorists, having given them weapons and advice?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: What is most important for world history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? Some Islamic hotheads or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Le Nouvel Observateur: "Some hotheads?" But it has been said time and time again: today Islamic fundamentalism represents a world-wide threat...
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Rubbish! It's said that the West has a global policy regarding Islam. That's hogwash: there is no global Islam. Let's look at Islam in a rational and not a demagogic or emotional way. It is the first world religion with 1.5 billion adherents. But what is there in common between fundamentalist Saudi Arabia, moderate Morocco, militaristic Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt and secularized Central Asia? Nothing more than that which connects the Christian countries...
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