The Soviet Afghan War Essay

1886 words - 8 pages

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 and employ total control over the population. Thus, the attempt to introduce an egalitarian system of property in a world that is profusely fundamentalist would most surely generate widespread social upheaval.To counteract such an outcome, the Soviets relied on the influence of the PDPA ( The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan), a pseudo nationalist political formation which rose to power following the 1978 military coup, and an hybrid institutional system, which encompassed both laic and religious elements.Furthermore, from a military perspective, the state of the infrastructure was a monumental logistical impediment. The initial invasion plan provided a gradual mobilization of 30 to 35 divisions, which would have assured complete control over Afghanistan. However, following the first armed contacts, the influx of troops proved to be unsatisfactory. The already strained road network by Soviet troop movements could not sustain an invasion of such magnitude. Thus, "Soviet efforts to use theater logistics...

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