The reason the Soviet Union gave for the invasion was that it needed to suppress the rise of fundamentalist Islam that was growing in the Soviet Union, especially in the southern provinces, and to support the communist regime in Kabul. Afghanistan shared a border with the Soviet Union that ran along Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. So, the Soviet troops rolled into Afghanistan to put down the rise of Islam. They were unsuccessful and the final Soviet troops withdrew on May 15, 1988.
At the time, the United States condemned the action as unprovoked and a violation of international law. If the communists couldn’t control Muslims in their own country, they had no business invading a neighboring Muslim country. We said it was just a pretext for communist expansion.
The United States supported the Muslim fundamentalists against the Soviets, providing them with weapons and supplies. We gave weapons to the Taliban and to Osama Bin Laden to aid in their fight to free Afghanistan of the communists. After eight long years they were successful.
Now roll ahead to Oct. 7, 2001. The United States, with the support of a couple other countries, invades Afghanistan to put down the rise of fundamentalist Islam and hunt for terrorists who might attack the United States. We now are fighting the same groups that we supported against the Soviets, and we now have been in Afghanistan for almost 10 long years.
Russia has condemned us for invading a country halfway around the world under the pretext of protecting our self interests. They are throwing our rhetoric right back at us. The Unites States’ position has been that if the communists did it, it was awful. But if we do it, then it is OK. What a convenient standard we have to justify any action we want to take against other countries with which we don’t even share borders.
No foreign power has ever successfully invaded and controlled Afghanistan. We should learn from the mistakes of the Soviet Union and others and leave. We have no reason to have thousands of troops there. The Afghan army is not and never has been poised to attack America. If we want to stop some fanatics from coming to the United States we can do so closer to home with a significant decrease in human and financial costs.
We have become our enemy. We are using similar rationales to what the Soviet Union used. The Soviet-Afghan war led to the demise of the Soviet Union. We should learn from the mistakes of others and not let our Afghan war lead to our own demise.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. Contact him at email@example.com