Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The CNN documentary on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan unflinchingly exposes both Soviet and Western influences in the destabilization of the region. What was supposed to be a quick occupation that would end in a few weeks, the Soviet invasion lasted for a decade. After Muslim extremists in the region rebelled against sweeping socialist policies in Afghanistan, a rebellion ensued. This rebellion was in part influenced by the fact that Soviet policies were ignorant to Afghanistanian culture and Muslim practices and by the fact that these policies were threatening the control of the Muslim religious leaders. As the political and social unrest reached its height, the Soviet-friendly prime minister assassinated and replaced with a power-hungry dictator, Soviet authorities decided to get militarily intervene. The United States saw this as a threat – Jimmy Carter even went far enough to say that this move threatened American national security and that he was considering unleashing nuclear weapons as a response to this. Thus, the United States began its funding and support of the  the Islamic anti-Soviet jihadist group (which was referred to as ‘mujahideen’).

What was interesting was about the documentary was the fact that many American officials explicitly stated that the war in Afghanistan was fueled by American covert operations which supplied arms and training to the mujahideen. One representative said that this was “our war paid with [Afghanistanian] blood”. What was CNN’s bias in presenting the information like this? Was this admittance of direct US manipulation and destabilizing aid one of owning up for America’s action?

The documentary also exposes the ultimate chaos of the US-USSR proxy war. An American official smugly admits that American troops acquired Soviet weapons from Czechoslovakia, China and Egypt because of the alleged materialistic interests that outweighed their socialist priorities. This goes to show how the vision of socialism was failing in the Soviet Union and how intent the United States was to bleed the Soviet Union dry. The unfortunate and truly tragic aspect of this point in history is that this vindictive and disorganized action was fought on foreign land and radically disrupted a religious and cultural country.

The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation’

The thesis for this article is how the superpowers proxy wars and conflicts fought in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America continue to flourish and shape the world in these countries 30 years later ((Roger Kanet, The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation’) Cold War History 6 no. 3, (2006), p. 331))).

Kanet sources are primarily from academia, with institutions in the United States. One very prominent reference source is himself. It seems reasonable if you are an expert on a subject then it is appropriate to use yourself as a key source in your article ((Roger Kanet, The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation’) Cold War History 6 no. 3, (2006), pp. 349-352)))..

This article is in line with my previous understanding of the cold war. As someone that came of age during the 1980s and saw the fall of communism this subject was a source of discussion while going to school. From reading and having teachers that often spoke about the cold war the idea of the US and the USSR in a proxy war was a common theme. The view of the US as always being king of the hill is a modern phenomenon. The author brought out nicely the effects of the Vietnam War and the whole Nixon affair and the toll this had on the psyche of the US population ((Roger Kanet, The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation’) Cold War History 6 no. 3, (2006), p. 338))). During the 1980s, the news constantly dealt with the US involvement in these struggles in aiding various factions. They at times backfired such as the Ollie North mess. The cold war was real to me growing up. One was constantly aware of the doomsday clock. This article only highlighted or reminded me of how different the world is today.

A personal observation deals with the point the author makes of the continuing effects from this involvement in these third world countries. It reminds me of the years I lived in Zimbabwe, a communist country. As a nation, they are extremely poor. Most people do not have indoor plumbing or electric, let alone televisions or cellphones. They did however have a large army with modern weaponry. The effects to these third-world countries may have a bearing on them for many more years to come.

Finally, I would disagree with the author in stating the nuclear superiority of the USSR. Both sides possessed enough missiles to destroy the world over many times. Therefore, any seeming nuclear superiority is an irrelevant topic.