Afghan War Is the Soviet Vietnam

USSRwithdrawal

The Soviet Union military involvement in Afghanistan lead to the forming of one the most cohesive social groups in Soviet Union society the Afghan veterans. These veterans formed a bond with one another because of similar situations that they faced in combat. Just like the United States veterans of the Vietnam War played a cultural and social role in the U.S., so would USSR Afghan vets in the Soviet Union. A brotherhood was formed out of the war in Afghanistan a brotherhood that could not be ignored by its government, by its enemies, and most importantly by the people of Soviet Russia.

Like in most wars soldiers die or have physical and mental issues because of the traumas they have seen. However, the responsibility of the government is to take care of its brave men who go off to fight for whatever reasons they were giving. The Soviet Union did not take care of their vets well at all. In the Seventeen moments the document called, “What Society Owes the Afghanistan Veterans,” states, “  When they first arrive, they assemble in a big room to hear the following honest and straightforward address: ‘You have fulfilled your duty and have sustained serious wounds.” The hospitals and care for returning vets were not adequate to the needs of these vets. The document showed how the government was unable to help and the negative effect of returning vets without having proper care for their injuries was seen in job losses, alcoholism, and the ability to not function properly in society. These issues are seen even here at home in the U.S. where are veterans are having many of the same problems. Just like the U.S. the end results are veteran groups being formed to fight for the rights that they earned.  

Even as the cold war raged on, the similarities of U.S. Vietnam war echoed loud in the Soviet Afghan war. Just like Vietnam, Soviet soldiers were being asked to die for people who clearly did not want them there, and the bloody fighting left them shattered on their return home. Soldiers who did not want to fight in this war came home broken and badgered. The unpopularity of the war among soldiers did not however, stop them from committing crimes that are comparable to Vietnam Mylai. In the East View database, the article, “We Serve in Afghanistan,” spoke of the, “the cutthroats are still going about their dirty business of setting schools on fire and killing activists.” These acts where highlighted to show the difficulty that the Afghan people had to overcome for their new life. These acts are a stain that Soviet soldiers dealt with for the remainder of the war.

The legacy of the Soviet Afghan war was that men came home broken and felt abandoned by its government. This eventually leads them to start their own organizations so they could look after each other. The Soviet Union losses the war and their economy, which in no small part leads to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The story of the Afghan vet is so comparable to Vietnam vets experiences and mood that it is kind of scary how history repeats itself even in the same century. The history of these wars left their mark on both sides and will never be forgotten by the people who fought in them.      

 

Sources:

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1985turshatov1&SubjectID=1985afghans&Year=1985

http://dlib.eastview.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/searchresults/article.jsp?art=12&id=13506261

Image:

http://www.soviethistory.org/images/Large/1985/withdrawal.jpg

4 thoughts on “Afghan War Is the Soviet Vietnam

  1. Thanks for highlighting the importance of veterans’ experience. Like everything else having to do with the war in Afghanistan, the challenges facing Soviet veterans were unpredictably complicated. Nice post!

  2. That was an interesting parallel you made between Vietnam vets and Afghan vets (and really, veterans from every war of this century). I agree that its kind of scary how little we seem to have learned- reminds me of a quote from I don”t know where “Men do not learn much from the lessons of history- and THAT is the biggest lesson of history”.

  3. I really liked the comparison you made here. I know I’m not the first to say it, but it is impressive the similarities that both the USA’s and USSR’s veterans share. I a saddened that the soldiers weren’t even given proper medical attention though. I mean, it only makes sense to me to take care of a man who’s willing to die for your cause…

  4. I love comparisons between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Using Vietnam to compare really brings up the feelings that we as American’s have towards that conflict and applying it to what we learn about the Soviets in the Afghan War. In another class that I am taking this semester, Women in the Islamic World, we watched a video about women in Kabul. The women and men in the documentary commented on the devastation left by the Soviets during the Afghan War. It’s really interested to be able to tie these two classes together and even see the similarities between the local people (Vietnamese and Afghans) invaded by the two super powers of the world.

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