Charley Wilson - Lost the War

Discussion in 'US' started by Alec_Lomas, Feb 11, 2010.

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  1. Charley died of a heart attack at his home, aged 76 years. Well God Bless him. They broke the mould when they made Charley.

    RIP senator.
  2. Taken from The Times:

    Charlie Wilson, the Texan Democrat who championed covert CIA support for Afghan Mujahidin in the 1980s and whose life was chronicled in a Hollywood film, has died. He was 76.

    The controversial former congressman, known as “Good-time Charlie” for his hard-partying ways, died of a heart attack in a Texas hospital late yesterday.

    He was taken to hospital after suffering breathing problems following a meeting in Lufkin, the eastern Texas town where he lived, according to a hospital spokeswoman. He was pronounced dead on arrival, and the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest.

    Mr Wilson served 12 consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, and was often referred to as the "Liberal from Lufkin".
    He sat on a key House subcommittee and helped to secure huge increases in funding for CIA efforts to help Afghan Mujahidin fighting Soviet occupation forces after the 1979 invasion.

    The movie Charlie Wilson’s War, which chronicled his efforts, starred Tom Hanks as Mr Wilson and Julia Roberts as the Houston socialite Joanne Herring who helped him to win support for the secret war.

    Hanks portrayed Mr Wilson – who was known for hiring attractive young women to staff his congressional office in Washington – as a boozy womaniser who found his life's cause in helping the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

    On a less flattering side, the movie opens with Mr Wilson in a hot tub in a Las Vegas hotel, flanked by two strippers who are high on cocaine. In 1980 the US Justice Department investigated Mr Wilson for possible drug use, but no charges were made.

    "The feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale, and I ain't telling," Mr Wilson told the author George Crile, who included the material in his book, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, on which the film was based.

    Mr Wilson said that the film played down his unlikely career. “I had the most fun of my life making that movie and, believe me, I have had a lot of fun in my life," he said.

    As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr Wilson quietly helped to steer billions of dollars to the CIA, which distributed the funds to buy Afghan fighters high-tech weapons such as Stinger missiles, which were used to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.

    "I just saw the opportunity to grab the sons o'bitches by the throat," the fiercely anti-communist Mr Wilson told the Dallas Morning News in a 2007 interview.

    Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, said that when he was director of the CIA he knew Mr Wilson, who “was working tirelessly on behalf of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviets”.

    Mr Gates said in a statement released overnight: “As the world now knows, his efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close.

    "After the Soviets left, Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatised country to its fate — a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today.”

    After the Soviet withdrawal, Mr Wilson expressed reservations about the American decisions to cut funds to Afghanistan, which he blamed for creating a void that led to the rising influence of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the Islamic militant group accused of the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

    Mr Wilson was born in Trinity, Texas, in 1933, attended the US Naval Academy, and served in the US Navy. He was elected to the Texas legislature and went on to serve in the US House from 1973. He retired from Congress in 1997.

    In 2007, he underwent a heart transplant.

    He is survived by his wife Barbara and sister Sharon Allison.

    Representative David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, described Mr Wilson as "a man of courage and conviction who worked hard, loved his country, and lived life to the fullest".
  3. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Click on thelink to see a real rifle.
  4. forgot to mention that, ta.

    Charlie led a full life and then some.
  5. RIP all right! The House appropriations committee, eh? Sounds all rather enticing.
    Really loved the filum. I'm told the book is better (well no Tom Hanks so its a good start)?
  6. Got his start in politics as a kid by engineering the electoral defeat of a neighbour who fed his dog food with broken glass. He went around the poor, black parts of town, offering rides to the polls to people who'd vote for his opponent. His neighbour lost the election by 16 votes.

    Edit: This was after he poured gasoline over the cnut's lawn and torched it.
  7. Command_doh

    Command_doh LE Book Reviewer

    Well done you cnut, you helped supply the forefathers of AQ with the tools, the money and the know how to make them and the Taliban the force they became after the fall of the Soviets. His 'boy' was Hekmatyar, a former General/Prime Minister/Jihadi/Warlord now tied close with the Talibs.

    This guy was a sell publicising delusionalist, looking for photo - opportunities and believing all the crap he was fed. Read Ghost Wars by Steve Coll, and find out how marginal he really was. Sure, he raised the profile, but it was Regan's lot who ploughed the cash in purely for the proxy war factor to stick it to Ivan. Despite endless warnings, they couldn't see past their immediate goal and couldn't connect the fact the Jihadi's were mainly foreign fighters (like now) determined to rid 'their' land of 'infidels'. They couldn't comprehend that they were supplying stingers (most of which were never accounted for) and other hardcore weaponry to people who hated all non - moslems (not the Afghani's by and large, as they distrusted the foreign Mujh just as much as the Soviets) and who might just get p1ssed off with big old Uncle Sam one day.

    Don't believe everything you see in the movies. Hollywood has a hard time distinguishing facts from a good story.
  8. Little harsh C_d. He was a man for the time and to be fair he did recommend a follow up with financial aid and a presence of advisors to help rebuild the infrastructure when the Sovs pulled out and just before the Taliban gained a stranglehold. The Senate didn't want to know. During that era the adage 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend' was very much in vogue. Same reason we propped up aparthied South Africa and supplied them with the wherewithall to beat the Marxists/Soviet proxys in that region. You might say that backfired too...... Marxists of another stripe - the Chinese - are there in force now!
    Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it?
  9. It's not harsh at all. Command_doh has it exactly right. Your man was a degenerate publicity-seeker interested only in himself and with little time for the real issues if they didn't put him in a beneficial light. In fact, he was a total creep who screwed up more than he achieved (by a long shot) all for his own selfish ends.

  10. Aye Bugsy, he was all that, though the people who he represented loved him! What would have happened had the Soviets been successful in colonizing Afghanistan? As they undoubtedly would have done were it not for people like yer man Wilson. It was the aftermath that went pear shaped - and Pakistani duplicity. Wilson warned against that too!