Jewish World Review May 28, 2003 / 26 Nisan, 5763

Lewis A. Fein

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Consumer Reports

The other contemporary
Texas political hero | Every industry has its legends and its conformists, the heroes prepared to flout the rules and the bureaucrats equally willing to enforce (zealously, always; immorally, possibly) the regulations that leave everyone else ensnared in governmental red tape.

For Charlie Wilson, the former Texas congressman and fierce anticommunist, there is only one rule: Victory. Victory on behalf of people enslaved by communism, imprisoned by Moscow and sacrificed for Stalin. That these people also bear the scars of multiple monsters — lashes imposed by sadistic Russians and floggings later unleashed by Muslim extremists — is itself a timely reminder that Wilson's achievements do not allow free people's the luxury of sleep or indifference. Peace is thus prevalent; but freedom remains incredibly scarce.

Wilson's heroism is now the subject of an excellent new book titled "Charlie Wilson's War" (Atlantic Monthly Press) by veteran television producer George Crile. The book concerns Wilson's secret effort to arm Afghanistan's mujahideen, the Muslim warriors who repelled the Red Army. To speak of anything else — to employ the use of ambiguous language or noncommittal terms; to merely label the Soviet Union foolish or benignly misguided — is to miss the purpose of this book (and Wilson's life). Communist Russia stands as the final reminder of totalitarianism's legacy, pronounced by Marx, perfected by Lenin and perpetuated by Stalin. The reminder is the gulag and Auschwitz, death camps advertised as wards of humanity for the incorrigible and dispossessed.

The book is also an unintended, though politically prophetic, blueprint for congressional Democrats. The blueprint, like a treasure map, bears the pride of its possessor: aimless footprints and inevitable frustration, or humility's walkway and Wilson's reward — military triumph and political respect. The maxim for Democrats is to walk proudly . . . and carry a very big stick!

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Nothing symbolizes the above advice better than the Stinger missile, one of the most effective weapons used against the Soviet Hind helicopter. More than almost any other piece of military hardware, greater than the raw dollars delivered through Pakistan or the machinery secretly developed by Israel, the Stinger is the weapon that reconfigured the Afghanistan war. For nothing changes the rules of warfare more quickly than preparation, resolution and lethal technology.

Yet, Charlie Wilson is more than heroism's stereotype; he is also Israel's greatest friend. The former congressman's district, a rural stretch of East Texas, contains few Jews. But Wilson's compassion for the beleaguered Jewish state — an emotional attachment furthered by military aid and financial assistance — is genuine. There is no craven political purpose behind Wilson's support, no outside pressure within it. The man is the real deal — ideologically kosher, if one prefers.

Wilson's story additionally contains an insider's account of the CIA, arms negotiations and foreign intrigue. The book outlines the CIA's institutional lethargy, its transformation from early bravado to constant bureaucracy. In fact, the spy agency's successes seem to depend more on the unconventional (and never officially sanctioned) efforts of a daring few than the plodding of the conformist many. Include a cast of fearless operatives and courageous warriors, and the defeat of the Soviet enemy is clear: superior weaponry and infinite resilience will crush the Russian bear.

Charlie Wilson is a great patriot and a loyal American. His heroism finally has an audience because his legacy has a theme — freedom! The defeat of Soviet tyranny is real and permanent. To remember Wilson's actions is to memorialize liberty's struggle. Let each new generation renew this great cause.

JWR contributor Lewis A. Fein is a writer and Internet entrepreneur in Los Angeles.Comment by clicking here.


© 2003, Lewis A. Fein