The Cold War, of course, consisted of an ever-increasing series of Spy v. Spy type games meant to the draw the opposing side into situations meant to undermine their ability to fully fund their individual ideologies. The US had been drawn into the quagmire of the Vietnam partly due to Russian backing of the opposing forces; Afghanistan was looked upon by the Carter administration as an opportunity for payback (Girardet and Walter 2004). The Soviet decision to invade Afghanistan could never have been seen by anybody at the time as the watershed moment in world history that it became, but in retrospect it clearly was a turning point in history that would eventually create a full-scale sea change in the geopolitical landscape.
Once Ronald Reagan was elected President, that sea change was virtually assured and, even more so, the stage was set for the rise of the Islamic terrorist as he is known today. In one of those great ironies that history sometimes produces, the result of Pres. Reagan's efforts to destroy one enemy resulted in the creation of an enemy that already has turned out to be much most costly to American soil; the ultimate irony of ironies is that during today's enemy was yesterday's ally. Pres. Ronald Reagan receives an undo share of credit for bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, but so far has managed to escape practically any blame whatever for contributing to the rise of Islamic terrorist in general and Osama Bin Laden in particular. Reagan spent much of his administration providing aid, technology and weapons to a ragtag army struggling to fend off the Russian invaders (Coll 2004). At the time this army, known then as the Mujahadeen, were actually publicly praised by Reagan as freedom fighters. Such was the positive view of these Afghan soldiers that they were actually the heroes in a Sylvester Stallone film, Rambo III (Fellure 2005).
Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone were not the only millionaires heaping praise upon the Mujahadeen, nor was the US the only benefactor for them. A wealthy Saudi Arabian who clung tightly to a particular fundamentalist view of Islam was also helping to fund these freedom fighters. His name was Osama Bin Laden and after the Soviets surrendered and withdrew from Afghanistan he was held up as a hero, partly because he hadn't changed his tune on about the Mujahadeen. Those freedom fighters were now looked upon a dangerous terrorists by the US after they took control of Afghanistan and became known by another name: the Taliban. By 1991 the US had completely withdrawn all help to the Afghans as they struggled to put back together a country torn apart by years of war; Osama Bin Laden remained a benefactor and moved from hero status to mythic status (Coll 2004).
Of course, Afghanistan is the not the only remnant from the Reagan administration that has had an influence on the political instability taking place in the Middle East. Although not directly linked to the