Back Into Afghanistan or Backing into Afghanistan?

The hardline has appeared today with an article by P. Akopov – “Pochemu Brezhneva bol’she osuzhdayut za afganskuyu voinu” – justifying the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. The author, Akopov, resumes the tired lie that the Russians were, after all, invited in, without of course mentioning that Soviet special forces attacked the President’s palace and murdered him first. One can read all about that enterprise on the various Russian websites celebrating the attack on Amin’s palace in every gruesome detail.

The interesting question that readers have immediately raised is: why now? Why seek to justify a much discredited invasion which, of all events, was the single most important factor in isolating the Soviet Union, ensuring a ready supply of narcotics into Russian cities and enfeebling the morale of its land forces? It had been resolutely opposed by former Chairman of the Council of Ministers Aleksei Kosygin, the Chief of the General Staff and the director of the GRU. But the Americans were reading the traffic thanks to the computer revolution. And US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski saw a long awaited opportunity to damage the Soviet Union. The Americans laid a false trail to trick the Kremlin into invading (see my book, Russia’s Cold War). I had this at first hand from former head of the National Security Agency, Brzezinski’s military advisor, General Bill Odom. “They’ve taken the bait”, Brzezinski crowed.

One reader of the article indelicately points out that Akopov was just eleven years’ old at the time of the invasion; so what would he know? Yet there are plenty of documents published in Russian alone to show him what went badly wrong against the best military and secret intelligence advice available.

Current Russian attempts to mediate between the various factions in Afghanistan are drawing the Kremlin back into the fray. The Chinese are already seriously interested in the fate of the country and in neighbouring Pakistan. No one gets involved in Afghanistan and emerges unscathed. And there are no known exceptions.