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Magical Thinking and the US War in Afghanistan

Tue August 11, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

U.S. Army Captain talks with the Nurgaram district sub-governor in Nuristan, Afghanistan. Photo by Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen/U.S. Air Force

Why is the U.S. still in Afghanistan?

When did it first get involved, and why?

What is the truth behind the so-called “Soviet invasion”?

What have been the long-term consequences – for the Afghan people, the region, and the world – of the Carter administration’s fateful decision in 1978-79 to support and arm a tribal-Islamist rebellion against Afghanistan’s left-wing, modernizing, pro-women’s rights government?

What can progressives do to finally put an end to the sorry record of U.S. disinformation and “magical thinking” about its foreign adventures?

RegisterA discussion on magical thinking underlying US policy in Afghanistan featuring video-journalists Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald and moderated by Prof. Valentine Moghadam.  Sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action’s Middle East Working Group.  Register here.

Our discussion will focus on a paper authored by University College Dublin scholar Conor Tobin. Titled “The Myth of the ‘Afghan Trap,’ Brzezinski and Afghanistan 1978-79,” it claims that there is no proof that President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski lured the Soviets into the December 27, 1979 invasion. Even Brzezinski’s infamous interview in a 1998 Nouvel Observateur article boasting about the Soviets falling into his ‘Afghan Trap’ is now in doubt. Having trailed the Afghan story as journalists for decades we already had the research to connect the US quagmire in Afghanistan back to Brzezinski’s scheme. In addition to providing evidence validating the ‘Afghan Trap’ claim, we will reveal a technique favored by ideologues that uses ‘magical thinking’ to wantonly remove facts that contradict the narrative they wish to create. ‘Magical thinking’ literally means, “If I think it’s real, it is real and you have to prove it’s not.” Tobin’s paper is a jaw-dropping example of how the context of the U.S./Afghan record is being stripped down to a fantasy based on ‘magical thinking.’ The practice of rewriting historical records through an ideological lens has resulted in generations of policy failures that will continue until there is a complete transformation from magical to conscious thinking.

Liz Gould and Paul FitzgeraldPaul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, acquired the first visas to enter Afghanistan in 1981 granted to an American TV crew. Following their news story for CBS, they produced a documentary (Afghanistan Between Three Worlds) for PBS and in 1983 returned to Kabul for ABC Nightline. Starting in 1992 they worked on the film version of their experience under contract to Oliver Stone. In 1998 they started working with Afghan human rights expert Sima Wali and contributed to the Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future  project published by Palgrave Macmillan (2002). In 2002 they filmed Wali’s return to Kabul since her exile in 1978 and produced a film about her journey titled The Woman in Exile Returns.  Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, was published by City Lights (2009). Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire, was published by City Lights (2011). Their novel The Voice, was published in 2000. Visit their websites at invisiblehistory.com  and grailwerk.com


Tue August 11, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
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