Rep. Charlie Wilson, RIP

Charlie Wilson has passed:

Wilson, a Democrat, represented Lufkin in the U.S. House from 1972 to 1996. He gained notoriety for his efforts in the 1980s to support the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation during the 1980s.

Wilson secretly secured congressional funds to arm the Afghans. The funding eventually grew to billions, roughly half in hidden U.S. taxpayer money, half in matching Saudi Arabian funds.

The secret funding was spelled out in a 2003 bestselling book by former CBS News 60 Minutes producer George Crile and dramatized in a movie, Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks.

Wilson said he saw an opportunity to hurt the Soviets militarily and in their standing in the world after visiting Afghan refugee camps in 1982. The Soviets eventually pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989.

A faulty and imperfect man as are we all, but a fellow who understood that Democracy was better than Communism, and that elites are not better-suited to accrue power simply by virtue of their elitism. Wilson was a plain, down-to-earth fellow; he knew that when he did wrong and got away with it -as when he was involved with a DUI hit-and-run in DC- he had genuinely “got off easy” and admitted it. He knew that he had “earned” no special consideration, simply because he worked for the people of his district.

Come to think of it, that may be what I liked best about Charlie Wilson. He understood that he worked for the people of his congressional district, and his country. Not the other way around.

One of the things that bothered me about the film, “Charlie Wilson’s War” was that it portrayed Democrats as they used to be -as indisputably pro-American as anyone, and ideological only to the water’s edge- and only served to remind me how far away we have all come since his like filled the halls of congress.

I must wear the label “conservative” only because “classical liberalism” has been displaced by something that has appropriated the name, “liberal,” and built upon its foundation something so narrow, closed-minded and thought-police-friendly as to disorient and daze the world.

As I wrote to some friends just now, “if Democrats were still like Charlie Wilson, I would still be a Democrat.”

I think I’ll file this under “American Genius.”

Charlie Wilson’s War was really America’s war (H/T Radio Patriot)
Piece of Work in Progress pays tribute.

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  • eaglewingz08

    It’s not surprising that more than half of democrats view socialism positively. The only major political group to hold that viewpoint. By contrast over seventy percent of republicans and conservatives view socialism negatively.

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  • Manny L.

    Rest in peace Congressman. You did good.

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  • Joe

    Do we really need more secretive dealings? All the mony that Representative Wilson provided for Afghanistan……….and we still have a multitude that hate us, and whose major source of income is the poppy trade. This certainly has been good for the USA.

  • Greta

    However, one has to ask how many of these people that we armed and trained are now part of the taliban or Al-Qaeda.

    I left the democrats when they fell in love with abortion. Being weak on defense, loving big government and high taxes, and political correctness only added to the mix.

  • Odysseus


    Did you see Charlie Wilson’s War? After the Soviets pulled out, Charlie wanted to keep spending money to build schools and infrastructure but he was denied. I think if we had done that, Afghanistan would have been a lot more US friendly.

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  • Doc

    Yes, Joe, the demise of the USSR has been good for the USA and good for the world. Charlie Wilson played a role in the fall of the Evil Empire. Yes, there was blowback. How much of that can be attributed directly to our support of the Muj? That’s a big debate.

    RIP, Charlie.

  • Joe

    Rest in Peace.

  • Joe

    I am not Joe at #5


    This Wilson worship makes me ill!

    Wake up…….first google “ARC OF CRISIS” read

    Charlie was the mouth piece of a Carter era program to collapse the Soviets, Carter suckered the Soviets to invade by the US arming the Afghans….then Carter spurred the collapse of the Sha of Iran, this move was meant to continue to surround the Soviets with fundamentalist states……

    So what did we get…….a world of Islamic killers, a Nuclear Iran and Al Qeda

    PS–by all means check out the photo which appeared in the Village Voice of Brezenski(Carter’s poor mans version of Henry Kissinger). a very young Osama Binladen….Brezenski’s daughter is with MSNBC on Morning Joe


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  • brooklyn

    “I must wear the label “conservative” only because “classical liberalism” has been displaced by something that has appropriated the name, “liberal,” and built upon its foundation something so narrow, closed-minded and thought-police-friendly as to disorient and daze the world.”

    It is well said. Open minded, reasoned, factual, etc., is the best way in life. However, I think you would still believe the Democrat Party Mr. Wilson offered, was still a corrupt Political Machine with an unhealthy addiction to Union Interests, and would therefore be seeking to raise taxation – make matters miserable for all else, for self interest.

    The modern Democrat Party, post the Wilson era, grew with a fashion which is largely anti-establishment, anti-USA, anti-Israel, anti-Free Markets, etc., while embracing the emotive image of collectivist denial.

    Fashion abounds everywhere however, and it will debase the opposition to the Democratic Party folly just as well.

    What is sad, the term ‘conservative’ is being exploited more and more everyday. It is being rather abused like the term ‘liberal’.

    Isolationism is not conservative, but we see it peddled by quite a few, pushing a tiresome form of populism.

    If this new conservative fashion helps defeat the modern disaster known as the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Clinton Democratic Party, then perhaps it is most helpful.

    Just like after the Reagan Era, many grew bitter and reactionary after 2004 – mostly with fears about Iraq. In the end so many actually enabled the disaster we see today.

    Some seem deeply unaware, the stereotype provided by much of the fashion in the echo chamber of the Conservative Punditry only enables the vapid fashion which blinds many who blow towards the Democratic Party fashion.

    It is as if some of the pundits, simply do not know how to constructively grow a healthy movement.

    Mrs. Palin is a fine example. Everything about the fashion defies the reality of the record. Mrs. Palin is a fine American Women, with great potential, and some very decent aspects.

    But in the growing ‘cult of personality’ embrace, pushed by much of the latest conservative fashion, defies the facts. Mrs. Palin grew as a moderate reformer, who joined the Maverick Platform with eagerness, pushing a mantra which called for Cap and Trade taxation, debased sound interrogation techniques like ‘waterboarding’, and even failed to defend the many admirable endeavors Republicans provided after 9-11.

    Mrs. Palin is now the fashionable image of the ‘pure – ideal’ of conservatism. Even when we know an unknown Plumber named JOE, was far more assertive, effective, reasoned, in challenging the collectivist Democrat Offering as compared to the failed Mr. McCain or Mrs. Palin.

    None of the fashion makes sense, almost like the fashion amongst Democrats who continue to push corrupt embarrassments like the Clintons upon the American Public.

    Mrs. Palin is a fine American Women, who has great potential, wonderful principles, and an attractive personality. But I even note, some now are trying to present her as the sole inspiration for the Tea Party protests. This is fashion grown to absurd levels, as Mrs. Palin had basically nothing to do with a popular mindset growing around the Nation to protest the vapid Democratic Party policies making matters miserable for all today. Mrs. Palin was not out with her family, with wonderfully hand painted signs, protesting on street corners like the rest of us, instead she was selling a book for millions.

    In fact, Mrs. Palin had little to do with the victories in NJ, VA, MA, etc. Yet, just a half hour ago, I ran into a mass of comments on an outstanding blog, with many readers suggesting just that – they cried ‘where would we be without Mrs. Palin, fighting alone against the Obama folly’?

    Sorry, getting paid to Keynote a suspicious Convention, which exploited the universal Tea Party Protests, does not make on the author of the Tea Party Protest movement…

    Tweeting is nice, but it did not elect professional, serious, impressive Republicans in MA, NJ, VA, etc.

    Baseless fashion will be a part of the human experience forever, but some times in history, reality had to overcome perception – for all to grow. At one point, folks accepted the basis which clearly proves the Earth is not the center of the Universe. With the facts, insight was empowered, and the human existence grew.

    One can only hope the fashion in the political arena, suffers a serious blow, like the enlightenment of the knowledge that this World is not flat.

    Maybe someday, many more will understand an emotive attraction to socialism – the push for an oppressive style collectivist Government, is not going to bring Utopia, but will make matters far worse.

    Maybe others, will stop glorifying Celebrities as the chosen few. Perhaps they will begin to accept human beings are imperfect, will never fit the ‘ideal’ some are trying to sell.

    It would be nice someday, when the realization that a sound team, basis, reason, is always more effective than the hype.

    But I think we are a long way from this form of progress, and I actually believe the fashion is going to enable the opposite of what many desire, for many years to come.

  • dymphna

    In hindsight we should’ve stayed out of Afghanistan. The same people who were fighting the Russians are now our problem.

  • poptoy

    God Bless you Rep. Wilson. May you rest in peace.