The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a small, but significant, part of the greater Cold War between the east and west. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December, 1979 with about 30,000 troops. The Soviet invasion was originally meant to be short term assistance in order support a puppet government but would drag on for 10 years. I chose this picture because it shows how a superpower invaded a tiny, backward nation for the sake of promoting Communism.
Leonid Brezhnev was the ideal leader of the Soviet Union, he was a true believer in Communist ideology. He prided the many medals he was awarded as well as the titles that came with them including; Hero of the Soviet Union and marshal of the Soviet Union. (Freeze, pg. 439) Soviet foreign policy under Brezhnev can be summed up in the Brezhnev Doctrine. This was the idea that if conflict threatened one of the socialist sattelite states then it would be met with the full power and might of the Soviet Union. A frail Comminust government in Afghanistan was a prime example for Brezhnev to intervene.
In 1978 Afghanistan was divided between the Communist government and anticommunist Islamic guerrillas. The Soviet Union at this time began to send in small groups of special forces troops to advise government troops. (The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. Response, 1978-1980) In March, 1980 Brezhnev told a crowd of supporters “… the Central Committee can assure the Soviet people that we have everything necessary to repel any military provocation.” (Brezhnev, Current Digest of the Russian Press) Furthermore, Brezhnev prided his foreign policy on the victories of Vietnamese Communism over the U.S. and China proclaiming more victory in the future. (Brezhnev, Current Digest of the Russian Press) Brezhnev saw socialist societies as being free from “colonial oppression” and referred to the west several times as being “imperialists” because they were capitalist. I believe Brezhnev saw the Soviet Union as the leader of a revolution under the banner of socialism in the fight against capitalism. This ideology helped shape his foreign policy.
Afghan government forces proved to be unreliable and undisciplined leading the Soviets to deploy more troops to the country. They also began to take greater control of the fight against the Islamist opposition, the Mujahideen. The Soviets were a brutal force that killed innocent civilians they believed to be helping the Mujahideen. The brutal tactics by the Soviets only strengthened the resolve of the Afghan people and enforced international criticism against the USSR. The US began arming and training the Mujahideen to fight back against the Soviets. Although the Soviets eventually had 100,000 troops in the country they failed to maintain control of the countryside and mountains where the Mujahideen were free to operate. (Britannica) The Soviet failure to win a quick victory over rebel forces led to a stalemate which drained resources from an already stagnated economy. (Freeze, pg. 446)
This Post earned a “hammer and keyboard” by the editorial team.
“SPEECH BY COMRADE L. I. BREZHNEV” Current Digest of the Russian Press, The , 26 Mar. 1980, https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13657095.
“The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. Response, 1978–1980.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, history.state.gov/milestones/1977-1980/soviet-invasion-afghanistan.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a History. Oxford University Press, 2009.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 4 Dec. 2019, www.britannica.com/event/Soviet-invasion-of-Afghanista