Impact of soviet invasion of afghanistan

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Background to Afghanistan

Greatest defence is it’s terrain – mountains, valleys and the temperature that comes with the terrain

Late 19th century – both Russia + Britain tried unsuccessfully to occupy Afghanistan

As a result it became buffer state between Russia – occupying central Asia – and Britain in India

Leading up and the Invasion

Nur Muhammad Taraki became Prime Minister early 1978

Declared Afghanistan as a communist state + signed a “Treaty of Friendship” with the USSR that allowed the him to request Soviet military assistance

takeover by the Communist party known as the Saur Revolution.

Gov. faced many complications with the local Mujahideen

During the first 18th months of Taraki’s rule he applied “soviet-style” reforms such as marriage customs and land reforms.

But majority of population were strict Muslims + immersed in tradition – not happy with changes resulting in a rebellion

This started Afghan Civil War

war spread throughout the country by the end of year

end of March 1979 - rebels had control of major cities

rebellion led by Ismail Khan in Herat killed + wounded about three thousand civilians, including some Soviets

Taraki repeatedly requested the Soviet Union to send assistance during the spring and summer of 1979

asked the Soviets to assist with security + provide military assistance against the Mujahideen rebels.

Finally, on April 14th 1979 - Afghan government asked the USSR to assist them by providing 15-20 helicopters accompanied with their crews to protect the capital and Taraki

Soviets agreed + sent in tanks + also an airborne battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lomakin – few months later

After a palace shootout resulting in Taraki’s death - Hafizullah Amin, deputy Prime Minister, seized power

overwhelmed by constant rebellion + opposition so called Soviets to aid him with larger units

late July, Amin requested the Soviets to send two motorized rifle divisions

few days later Amin requested an additional airborne division

Soviets didn’t grant this until December 1979, when they invaded.

24th Dec. 1979, seven-hundred Soviet troops inc. some KGB dressed in Afghan uniforms occupied major governmental, military, media buildings, + the Tajbej Traditional Palace

That night - Kabul’s communications were destroyed to paralyse Afghan military command + an assault on the Presidential Palace assassinating Amin took place

Soviet’s claimed that Amin had been “executed by a tribunal for his crimes" by the Afghan Revolutionary Central Committee

Soviet ground forces entered Afghanistan from the north on December 27th + took control of major urban centres, military bases and strategic locations.

Soviets placed Babrak Karmal as the new Afghan president

Karmal demanded that the Soviets stop the rebellion as it had risen due to their invasion

Why did the Soviets Invade?

Geopolitical Reasons:

Soviets wanted to protect their 2000 mile border with Afghanistan + not a civil war on it’s borders

A war would be dangerous to stability of Central Asian Republic of USSR

Also wanted Afghanistan to remain a buffer state – so they were protected from an invasion from the south

Brezhnev says : “to have acted otherwise would have meant to watch passively the origination on our southern border of a seat of serious danger to the security of the Soviet state”

This point is argued by GARTHOFF who says Soviets didn’t attack to increase their influence but to ensure Afghanstan remain a buffer

Fear of Foreign Intervention

Soviet’s knew America’s plot to destabilize communist gob

America at the time denied involvement

But Brzezinski says “ Carter signed directive for secret aid to opponents of pro-soviet regime July 3rd 1979”

Jamgotch - Soviets aware rebels receiving outside military assistance incl. guerrilla fights in China

Soviets believed Chinese trying to build of communist empire of their own

Soviets believed Amin in contact with CIA

Garthoff – soviet’s viewed him as unreliable + ambitious

He lived in US + was highly sus. of Moscow

He pursued radical reformts disregard Soviet adviced – leading Soviets to believe he was working with US to achieve “anti-Soviet conclusion

This would mean Afghanistan become another capitalist country encircling Soviets along with China (although still communist was against USSR) + NATO countries

Desire to Protect Communism

Although Amin’s request for help was the official reason for entry, it’s believe Soviets wanted to protect communism not Amin’s regime – Garthoff

Soviet’s didn’t see Amin as “real socialist” but knew his failure would mean “a defeat for real communism to the world”

Failure reflect negatively on image of communism in history + setback Soviet’s ability as seen by world to protect its communist neighbours + friends

“failed socialist revolution would be worse than none at all”- major influence

Didn’t want global community seeing communism as unsuccessful thus giving American’s upper hand on capitalism

American perspective

Soviets wanted to expand their sphere of influence

Scared Americans as much of their oil resources lay in same region

Feared disruption + spread o communisn would be dangerous to economy, industry + way of life

Spread of communism also endanger Pakistan + India

US used Pakistan as military base + India as a port – had close ties with both

Soviet intervention result in end to military security, end to Indian + surrounding markets + services

Also America’s chance to let Soviet experience “their Vietnam”

Impact of Invasion

End of the Detente

Soviet invasion “final nail in the coffin” of detente

Rise in tensions + more open dislike between countries

US places sanctions against USSR – grain embargo

Although embargo was ineffective its shows how the relationships worsened as US withdrew the Soviet Grain Agreement Act

Jamgotch – US placed economic sanctions to signal displeasure of Soviet behaviour

Also defer SALT II and end to disarment talks

“ dismantling of the entire set of American-Soviet relations developed over decade of detente”

Carter Doctrine

Carter doctrine – return to original Cold War policy of containment

increased naval patrols and bases in the Persian Gulf

return to containment establishes the return of the cold war re-creating old tensions and resentment\

Carter announced “punishments” for Soviet union including “tightened controls” on sale of technology and other items for the 1980 Moscow Olympics

Some view boycott as unnecessary but some like Lacqueur say the move showed true cold war “games”

America’s Decision to support mujahidin

support mirrored Soviet support of the Vietcong and also mirrored spiteful U.S. –Soviet relations from the 50’s and 60’s

war by proxy meant that the U.S. provided billions of dollars worth of ‘aid’ to the mujahidin and supplied arms and other military equipment

U.S. donated “$600 million in aid per year” + provided “F-16 aircraft... and extra $2.28 billion in weapons”

Carter’s decision to increase arms spending, ending the era of arms limitations, signifies the tensions and hostility between the nations

donations, aid, and support for the opposition also represent the poor relationship between the Soviets and Americans

Soviet’s view on the impact

USSR + US saw detente differently

US thought: Soviets would act as a stabling force in Eastern Europe

Soviets believed it granted them equal superpower status

As a result of this misunderstanding - Soviets were quite confused on the extreme American reaction + led the Soviets into believing that “the American government administration used Afghanistan as a pretext for doing what it desired” which was “an intensified arms race and an anti-soviet political line” - LeFeber

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