Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are we really repeating the Russians' mistakes in Afghanistan? Quick Thoughts

Are we really repeating the Russians' mistakes in Afghanistan?  

Some say that the United States is repeating history, making the same mistakes the Russians made in trying to rule the country and prop up a puppet government there.   The problem is that it is factually untrue.

The Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan to ensure the survival of a Soviet-friendly communist government that had come to power in a coup.  The United States intervened after an attack on U.S. soil in order to remove a government that was hosting and protecting the attackers.

The government the Soviet Union was protecting came to power in a coup and was hugely unpopular.  The current government of Afghanistan came out of an internationally recognized, Afghan-led constitutional process and enjoys wide support among Afghans.  During the Soviet war, the insurgents were widely popular and supported by the average Afghan.   During the current war, the insurgents are not widely popular and in fact are rejected by almost all Afghans.

Soviet tactics were routinely heavy handed.  Despite mistakes, the US has a particular focus on protecting the population.  

The size of the Afghan Army, fed by mass desertions, did nothing but shrink from the first day of the Soviet invasion.   The current Afghan Security forces have surged at a pace and to a level that dwarfs the American surge over the last couple of years.

The Soviets and Americans came to Afghanistan for completely different reasons, supported governments conceived in completely different ways, with completely different levels of popular support, supported by Afghan security forces on opposite growth trends, and utilized completely different tactics.    This is not a repeat of history at all.

--Card-Carrying American

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