Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Brave Man Killed By Shi'ite Afghans

In my conversation with my retired diplomat stepfather this morning about Cleo Noel and George Moore, US diplomats ordered killed by Yasser Arafat, he mentioned two other close friends who were killed in the line of State Dept. duty: Adolph "Spike" Dubs and Frank Meloy.

Here is Spike Dubs' story:

Lt. Commander Spike Dubs served in the Pacific in WWII, then joined the diplomatic corps where he became an expert in US-Soviet relations. After serving as acting ambassador in Moscow, in 1979 he was posted to the front lines of the Cold War, Kabul, Afghanistan, where President Noor Mohammed Taraki was a puppet of the Soviets.

It was his 29th year of service to America through its foreign service.

On Valentine's Day that year, he was abducted by Shi'ite militants and taken to Room 117 of the Kabul Hotel. The heavily armed Shi'ites, opposed to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, issued their demand: the immediate release of three insurgent Muslim leaders captured the previous month.

Interesting, isn't it, that the Islamists were well aware that the US was backing their cause, yet they seized Dubs nonetheless? It shows to me how futile appeasement efforts will be, and how wrong those who say "we just need to understand them" are.

The Time Magazine account a week after Dubs' murder reported:
Within minutes, police cordoned off the hotel and Afghan security forces took charge. Senior U.S. embassy diplomats at the scene were excluded from a crisis command post. In it were Afghan security chiefs, military officers and, significantly, Sergei Bakhturin, the Soviet embassy's chief security officer, and a Soviet adviser to the Afghan police.

Frenzied attempts to negotiate with the terrorists through the keyhole of 117 proved inconclusive. Other U.S. officials attempting to establish contact with President Noor Mohammed Taraki or high-ranking Afghan officials were shunted off to a Deputy Foreign Minister.

Alerted at home in Washington at 1 a.m. (E.S.T.), after urgent high-speed cables clattered simultaneously into the State Department, Pentagon and White House, Secretary Cyrus Vance issued firm instructions by telephone to the embassy in Kabul: Urge the Afghan government to exercise "extreme discretion" and take no chances that could further endanger Dubs' life. The State Department also contacted Moscow with a similar plea.

These demands for restraint went unheeded. Afghan officials later argued that they had received a ten-minute ultimatum from the terrorists, and had heard an unexplained shot inside the hotel seconds before they acted. At 12:50 p.m. Afghan army commandos and police stormed the room with a 40-second assault that one eyewitness described as "a complete holocaust" of gunfire and explosions.

In the cordite smoke, Dubs was found slumped in a chair, dying of multiple wounds; it was unclear whose bullets had hit him. ...

The State Department pinned the blame for the reckless decision to attack on the two Soviets, and summoned Moscow's Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin to protest the Soviet role "in the strongest terms." In Moscow, U.S. Ambassador Malcolm Toon delivered an equally forceful remonstration to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
Dubs' death -- his deliberate slaughter, really -- is deemed by some experts to be one of the last straws in the deterioration of US-Soviet relations. Like the Noel and Moore murders five years earlier, it was also an early sign of the willingness of radical Islamists to challenge American force wherever they could.

To understand the diplomat's mind-set, you need to consider first the anger and loss the men and women at the US embassy felt upon the murder of Dubs, who had no doubt made friends with many of his current staff over his long career. Contrast those raw feelings with this, written by Bruce K. Byers, USIS press attache at the embassy at the time of Dubs' death, and posted at the Arlington National Cemetery Web site:

It would have been easy for us to hint at links between Soviet KGB and Afghan Interior Ministry officials, but we had to remain absolutely disciplined about information released to the media and the public. The truth was that we had very few hard facts. Any public speculation by embassy officials could have precipitated more dangerous developments in a country whose Marxist-led government was already worried about its survival. The chief responsibility of our embassy was to safeguard the lives of the more than 4,000 Americans living in the country and, especially, those in Kabul.

Dubs' death was another of many at the hands of the Islamists that would slip away without reprisal. But you sense that if Dubs were making the call, that would be his call: He would put the interests of America and Americans ahead of his own.

Thank you for your service, Spike Dubs. And Mary Ann Dubs, we honor you for the loss of your husband in service to our country.

Related Tags: , , , ,