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The American-Irish journalist and leftist icon Alexander Cockburn once said the following about Afghanistan: "We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers, who have furnished in their leisure hours some of the worst arts and crafts ever to penetrate the occidental world. I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but if ever a country deserved rape it's Afghanistan. Nothing but mountains filled with barbarous ethnics with views as medieval as their muskets, and unspeakably cruel too."

In fact, the Soviets really did "rape" Afghanistan as Cockburn desired. During the almost decade-long occupation, around two million Afghans were murdered while millions more, including many of my own family members, became refugees all around the world. Generations of Afghans have been destroyed, and in terms of radicalization, many young people did not join militant groups because the CIA told them to do so but because they witnessed horrific massacres and lost their loved ones. Almost four decades on from the Soviet invasion, this simple truth continues to elude the Western left.

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