On this day in 1989, the Soviet Union announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the Soviet-Afghan War. During the war, of course, the United States was entirely against the Soviet Union. I greatly admire Jimmy Carter, but he was a Cold War relic. His foreign policy toward the Soviet Union was more conservative than the Republicans who came before and after him. But Carter wasn’t alone. Everywhere you looked in the United States people just took it for granted that all that stuff about allowing women to be educated and similar reforms were a Very Bad Idea™.
The war had been going on for just over nine years. So we were almost exactly four years dumber than the Soviet Union. Of course, I’m not really sure what the hell we were doing in Afghanistan. The main thing was just revenge — an extremely imperfect target, but at least better than Iraq. But once we were there, what were we trying to do? I mean: yes, we were trying to liberalize the country. But that doesn’t count, does it? Why should the Americans get credit for that when the Soviets never did?
The Soviet-Afghan War was always presented in the US as an invasion. I understood even then that this was not the way things work. There had been a coup in Afghanistan. The new government under Nur Muhammad Taraki was very much pro-Soviet Union. Like most such governments, it was not very nice and it managed to get a civil war started. Taraki had begged the Soviets to intervene. They refused and only did so after Taraki himself was assassinated by his own people.
Hypocrisy of US Media on Soviet-Afghan War
I talked about this on my birthday post: not getting the full context of things from my father. This is a more general problem in issues like this. The case that the Soviets were asked by the country to intervene are actually stronger than the case that they simply invaded. But both are rather too simplistic. But what is clear is that when we did the same thing in Vietnam, our media didn’t present it as some kind of unprovoked attack on the country. Just as with the Soviet-Afghan War, we came in to help prop up an unpopular government.
Hypocrisy is a natural human trait. But when your nation’s fourth estate accepts the government’s hypocrisy as God’s own word, that country is not long the land of liberty. Because liberty based upon lies is the same as slavery.