History Other / Russia In Afghanistan
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Autor: anton 15 November 2010
Words: 1717 | Pages: 7
Afghanistan has always been a poor, backward, and illiterate country. It was not a paradise nor was it like Canada. It has also been a peaceful and independent country, one that has had a history of many wars. Beginning in 1933 and until 1973 Afghanistan was ruled by a monarchy, yet he let the tribes in Afghanistan rule for themselves. The Afghanistan War is commonly referred to as "Russia's Vietnam". The war was especially devastated to the USSR because it led to their downfall and the embarrassment of their once mighty army.
In 1955 Afghanistan asked the US for help in military matters, Training their army and giving them new weapons and supplies. The US refused because they did not want to upset Pakistan, who was having their problems with Afghanistan. They did not want to upset them because they were good customers. Then Afghanistan turned to the USSR for support. They were only too happy to help. This was the start of Russia's involvement in the Afghan government. As time went on they became more and more familiar with the Afghanistan government. Then Russia started to build roads and tunnels, which at the time seemed a nice gesture, yet later on it became obvious that they Russians were planning an invasion.
Years later the King took a vacation in Italy and his cousin, who was the Prime Minister, took over. His name was Daud Khan. He then made the government a one-party one. Five years later the Soviet trained troops made all the people leave. They were there for an education convention. This was a smart move because there were now no foreign eyewitnesses to the events that would soon occur. The Afghan Air Force then bombed the Afghan radio station. The reason for this was because whoever controlled the radio station controlled Afghanistan. Daud was found dead soon after and a Marxist type government came to power, led by Muhammad Tureki. There was much fighting at this time and this was due to the fact that there were many groups vying for power. There were two Marxist groups, one group that followed the Chairman Mao, one Communist group, and one socialist group. The President asked for help from the USSR and due to this The Russian came in and established a communist order through invasion.
Prior to the invasion there was evidence to the Russian's buildup. Battalions were being moved on their borders and the air activity was being stirred. Afterwards when the President asked for help, the Russians got close to them and started relieving them of their duties. The Russians were smart because they attacked on Christmas, knowing that the West's response, if there were one, would be slow. There was much use of propaganda during this time and many rumors were spread. They even went so far as to say that the Americans were planning to put missiles in Afghanistan. The Russians said that they were going to help Afghanistan with their problems and that they were going there to protect Afghanistan on behalf of the president. Even the soldiers were told that they were going to help the people. That they were going to build hospitals, orphanages, and such. There were thirty thousand troops in Afghanistan before the invasion and there are hundred thousand at this point. The invasion was not a "spur of the moment", as we see that they built roads and tunnels to accommodate the tanks. There was a treaty made between the two countries only four years before, though. "This invasion shocked the world. This is very odd because many consider Afghanistan Russia's backyard" (Kakar pp. 1) The invasion was a surprise to the world, due to the time, partly, but the reality was it surprised them because of their reason for doing it. Afghanistan was not, to the world, an important peace of real estate. There were many opinions given to this thought. Some think that the invasion was history repeating itself. Russia has always been trying to acquire warm water ports. This is especially essential now, during the Cold War. Another reason given is because Russia wanted to descend on India, but that is very far fetched.
" In My opinion the motivation of the Russians to descend on Afghanistan was because they wanted to encircle the Gulf area"(Dialog@Carl PP 5) This reason also seems to fit well because if Russia had control over the Arabian Gulf area then they could destroy the West's military capabilities.
The reaction to the invasion was very strong yet it was only verbal. The UN condemned it and the US boycotted the Olympics that were being held in Moscow that year. All in all, though, not much was done about it.
Throughout their time there, the Russians always had problems. They began their rule by killing tribes and the gorilla movements that were starting to pop up. The aid to them was inconsistent. Later on the Soviets were forced to take their war to the countryside because the guerrilla warfare was too intense for them. The Russians came in with many troops and superiority in the air. Many refugees left and went to neighboring countries such as Pakistan. From there the leaders of the freedom fighters, the Mujahideen, fought the war.
The US, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran all supported the freedom fighters but each for their own proposes. The Soviets real problem was that there were a lot of fighters and that they were not afraid of dying. Thus they kept attacking. The fighters also disappeared for days after an attack, not to appear for days or weeks afterwards. The Soviets then tried massive offenses but they proved useless in the mountainous regions. Another problem that they had was that many members of the Afghan army on the side of the Russians were defecting to the freedom fighters and that they were bringing their weapons with them. Later in the war the CIA helped the many freedom fighting groups work together to fight the Russians.
The Russians used chemical warfare and planted thousands of mines, many that have not exploded are still there today. The Russians, cruel as they were, made mines disguised as toys and scattered them around, so that when children picked them up they blew up and hurt them badly. The Russians also had a scorched-earth policy, meaning that wherever they went they destroyed the land by burning it. The Russians were very quick to destroy entire towns that they thought were harboring and helping the freedom fighters. "Many people were afraid that Afghanistan would turn into a Soviet satellite"
(Malkin pp. 5) This was the reason many countries turned on the cash flow to help the freedom fighters.
After ten years of war half of the schools and hospitals lay in ruins, with thousands dead, and five million people seeking refuge in neighboring countries.
In 1988 there was a treaty that said that the Russians would leave if the other countries stopped their aid to the fighters. This treaty came out only because of Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika. That no orphanages were really being built, just that the Russians were fighting a very unfair war. Before their withdrawal the Russians could only move in convoys for fear that the freedom fighters might attack them at any moment.
After some ten odd years of fighting the troops left and were very demoralized. During the Russians ten years of occupation one million people died. Half of the population was gone and there was no more school system. Industry was down and out and the economy was crippled. There were severe food shortages. Many realized it was time to leave.
Had the many groups fighting against the Russians worked together they would have gotten rid of the Soviets a lot sooner. The same thing happened with the Sepoy rebellion in India with the Hindus and the Muslims. As soon as the Russians left there were many groups fighting for power. The Taleban gained control and they were very Islamic and harsh. People still tolerated them because they brought order and got rid of any Soviet control or remnants left.
The occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union was a major contribution in the downfall of the USSR. It was a very costly war and was considered to be Russia's bleeding wound and their Vietnam. It was humiliating for Russia, to be beaten by a small and penniless country. Due to this war DÐ“Â©tente ended between the US and Russia. It hurt Soviet prestige with other Muslim countries and led to their "awakening" and realization of what was happening. It also led them to break off relations with the USSR.
In Conclusion, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was for the better in terms of the US yet it was a major factor in the downfall of communism and the USSR. The major factor that led to their downfall in Afghanistan was because they underestimated the Mujahideen." Since Gorbachev was the one person responsible for pulling the planet back from the brink of nuclear annihilation, it would be nice to think that he did not have the stomach for it" (Kakar pp. 5). Many might not agree to this and take the opposite approach that he knew it would destroy the world and he wanted to end the Cold War's petty bickering. Many people think that due to the spread of the Guerrilla warfare, modern day terrorists came out of this war. Had Afghanistan fallen to the hands of the Soviets, the Cold War might have escalated. They could have taken over the Arabian Gulf and thus changed the US's military matters, by destroying it in one felt swoop. The Withdrawal left many people in need of help and left a split between the nation, those for the new government, the Taliban, or those thinking that it was too harsh a rule. There are still thousands of unexploded mines that wait in the grass waiting to be picked up by an unexpected passerby. "Many people compare this war to Chechnya." (Sloane pp. 1) This is very true because they had the same results. The Soviets took the war and, through propaganda, made it in to a heroic battlefield for the men of Russia.
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