The Soviet-Afghan War

Essay by pault135 April 2014

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The Soviet-Afghan War ( 1978-1989)

During the 1970s, communism and nationalism experienced a thundering expansion. The sovereign states of Indochina become exponents of the Soviet Block, while in South America and Africa, the socialist ideology gains even more ground, sparking a pronounced revolutionary climate. The United States does little to unify the western world, while the Soviet Union finances revolutionary cells in Japan, the democratic states of Europe and Latin America. Interpreting the West's lack of reaction as a shift in political power, the Soviets extend their influence between 1975 and 1978, ultimately reaching Afghanistan. But, in this process they will realize that both communist and capitalist states are governed by the same geopolitical realities.[1: Kissinger, Henry - "Diplomacy" ]

The so-called "Vietnam War of the Soviet Union" from 1979 to 1989 was the final flashpoint of the Cold War and a prime example of the drawbacks of interventionist policies.

Even though the USSR experienced counterinsurgencies throughout its military history (Central Asia 1920-1930; Ukraine during the Second World War), it would find itself unprepared in this new theater of war.

This essay will attempt to address the causes that sparked the insurgency, the political climate preceding the war, the military and social implications of the conflict, the effects it had on the participating states, as well as the elements of continuity in the international scene and the power mechanisms between the belligerent sides.

To start with, I will point out some permanencies in the Afghan social and administrative structure that are relevant to the issue in question.

The Afghan State is fragmented both territorially and ethnically with the prevalence of a centralized government being atypical. Internal sovereignty stems for the tribal society and is projected by various oligarchical groups, tribal leaders, local barons which exert their rule over small territories...