What We Can Learn from the Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Thursday, January 03, 2013

U.S Army Sgt. 1st Class David Banks, from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, moves through Pana, Afghanistan, during a cordon and search, June 9, 2007. (US Army/Staff Sgt. Michael L. Casteel/U.S. Army)

In February 1989, after nine long years, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan. Today, as the United States transitions out of the country, Nikolas Gvosdev, professor of national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College, says that Americans have plenty of lessons to learn from the Soviet withdrawal.

The USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 with grand plans for a Soviet-style republic under then-President Babrak Karmal. Yet as the war dragged on, and as Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviets began to question their mission in Afghanistan.

By 1985, Gorbachev decided that the Afghan war had become a drain on Soviet finances and a distraction from the USSR's political mission. The Soviets began their withdrawal a few years later, but continued to send monetary aid and weaponry to defend the Afghan government against the Mujahedeen.

According to Gvosdev, the Americans should take note of the Soviets' success in funding the Afghan government, and that the Soviet-supported Afghan government did not fall to the Mujahedeen until 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Boris Yeltsin cut off aid to the country. 

Guests:

Nikolas Gvosdev

Produced by:

Elizabeth Ross and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [1]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

My feeling is that some drug lords are laying low till we pull out. I'm sure when we leave, we'll still be there. We have to in order to guarantee stability.

Jan. 03 2013 01:07 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.