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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Current Events > Russia, Central Asia, and The Caucasus

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Russia, Central Asia, and The Caucasus Post-Soviet Russia and some neglected smaller neighbors.

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  #1  
Old 21 May 17, 22:03
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Why Afghanistan?

Looking at post-war Soviet foreign policy, we see a fairly stable approach: they kept their satellites under control, and used proxy forces, military aid, and general subversion to spread their interests.

They were rather successful, transforming post-colonial Africa into an exploitable shambles, securing Cuba and Nicaragua, and so forth.

They lacked the economic power to truly exploit their successes, but they did well overall.

So why did they choose to go 'all in' with Afghanistan?

As masters of promoting insurgency they would know how difficult it is to successfully combat; they knew the USA for certain would take the opportunity to raise all sorts of mischief if the conflict stretched more than a few months. They knew their economy was fragile and their military had not seen action in twenty years. They had to know that anything less than a brilliant military accomplishment would encourage restlessness in their satellites.

Against all those possible negative options they balanced control of a strategically located but politically unreliable country.

I don't understand why they went for the military option.
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  #2  
Old 22 May 17, 06:11
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History. Russia had been involved with Afghanistan in the 19th century when it was a buffer state between Russia and India. The ability to dominate and even possibly invade India was an old Russian dream but the ability to do so required the domination of either Persia or Afghanistan. Russian forces had intervened in Afghanistan much in the same way as did British ones and with about as much success (although without the disasters) Plans to invade India via Afghanistan were extant at the end of the nineteenth century. Russian agents sparred with British ones in the country. Both Britain and Russia saw it as a potential weakness on their borders. It was also a source of problems with cross border raids by the tribes. However if Britain attempted to effectively annex the country it might result in war with Russia and vice versa. It was seen by Russian governments as a festering nuisance and this attitude seems to have been inherited by the Soviets. Post WW2 with the end of the British Empire the deteriorating political situation in Afghanistan offered the Soviets what must have seemed like the opportunity to finally do something about the place once and for all. However as the Persian and then the British had already learnt doing something about Afghanistan is easier said than done.
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Old 22 May 17, 07:25
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I would say for the same reasons the US gets involved in failures
--over analyzing a threat
..wasn't it somewhat like Vietnam--USSR ''helping'' the Afghan government fight rebels?
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Old 22 May 17, 08:51
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I would say for the same reasons the US gets involved in failures
--over analyzing a threat
..wasn't it somewhat like Vietnam--USSR ''helping'' the Afghan government fight rebels?
I assume you mean over estimating a threat? - over analysis usually leads to paralysis by analysis
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Old 22 May 17, 09:14
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I was still at school when USSR troops entered Afghanistan.
We were told that it had been done to make sure that USA wouldn't had placed their nuclear missiles in this country.
Anyway, I think it was an understandable act directed to secure Soviet borders, as Afghanistan's internal situation seemed rather unstable. Not so much of the Soviet leaders were able to predict what a mess it was going to be.
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Old 22 May 17, 10:10
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Originally Posted by Moulin View Post
I would say for the same reasons the US gets involved in failures
--over analyzing a threat
..wasn't it somewhat like Vietnam--USSR ''helping'' the Afghan government fight rebels?
No. The US started out helping France in the early 50s. No comparison.
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Old 22 May 17, 10:53
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Helping out the Afghan Communist party(ies) that had just removed the president of the republic in a coup in 1978. The Republic had been around since... 1974 iirc... when the president-to-be had removed his cousin the king of Afghanistan from the throne.

So seems like a situation where Moscow might well have concluded that "the forces of history" were inexorably turning their way, but it was best to ensure the success of their ideological allies in Afghanistan by sending military aid.

And then they got stuck.

Something like that, AND it possibly being an "opportune movement" to push the Soviet position one step further towards the old dream of a Soviet (Russian) Port on a Warm Sea. If entrenched in Afghanistan, the Indian Ocean would be only Iran och Pakistan away — the first a Islamist pariah state not even the US liked, and the second a US ally (while India was pretty chummy with the Soviets).
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Old 22 May 17, 13:37
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Originally Posted by Johan Banér View Post
Helping out the Afghan Communist party(ies) that had just removed the president of the republic in a coup in 1978. The Republic had been around since... 1974 iirc... when the president-to-be had removed his cousin the king of Afghanistan from the throne.

So seems like a situation where Moscow might well have concluded that "the forces of history" were inexorably turning their way, but it was best to ensure the success of their ideological allies in Afghanistan by sending military aid.

And then they got stuck.

Something like that, AND it possibly being an "opportune movement" to push the Soviet position one step further towards the old dream of a Soviet (Russian) Port on a Warm Sea. If entrenched in Afghanistan, the Indian Ocean would be only Iran och Pakistan away — the first a Islamist pariah state not even the US liked, and the second a US ally (while India was pretty chummy with the Soviets).
A failure to look at the past. Afghanistan history is full of cousins removing cousins from the throne and civil war seems to be a hobby or a national sport.. But the thing to remember is that they tend to come together when outsiders arrive. Who they fight and who they support is fluid - for example Dost Mohammed removed his relative from the throne and started making friendly noises towards Russia. This led to the disastrous British intervention and eventually the retreat from Kabul - not Britain's finest hour. Yet about ten years later when Persia was invading the country via Heerat and Britain saved their bacon by fighting a war with Persia Dost Mohammed became incredibly pro British and a year or so later refused to give the Indian mutineers any help or sanctuary and handed their ringleaders over to Britain. A few years later again Afghanistan was adopting a pro Russian stance. Its been like this for centuries. A phrase that has been used of the Irish also applies to the Afghans "They don't want you to love them, they just want you to hate their enemies". No regime was stable for very long. Between WW1 and WW2 they had another civil war (which Persia poked its nose into). As I said it was an unstable mess leaking banditry from every border. In the inter war years Britain learned to contain it with armoured cars and aircraft (which Pakistan failed to keep up) but it was always a pain for the USSR and they musat have welcomed what seemed like an excuse to intervene.
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Old 22 May 17, 17:49
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Well, Marxist historical materialist ideology would be telling them that things were moving into another kind of orbit, historically pre-ordained.
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Old 23 May 17, 05:36
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Well, Marxist historical materialist ideology would be telling them that things were moving into another kind of orbit, historically pre-ordained.
Indeed I think they were also expecting S Yemen to go the same way but Yemen is like Afghanistan - constantly riven by internal strife when they are not being a squalid nuisance to their neighbours. Back in the days when such states were confined to using black powder muzzle loaders the best option was to guard your frontier and let them get on with shooting at each other but in today's world of readily available modern weaponry and global transportation such containment is increasingly difficult if not impossible and yet direct intervention is equally unattractive!
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Old 23 May 17, 06:12
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Wow, so many BS conjectures from our "Russia expert", so unexpected. The Marxist theory in the Soviet Union started to get twisted and moulded to justify the most the most practical and appropriate political/economic strategy starting from the days of Lenin, and by the end of the 1970's it became a hollowed out shell few people sincerely believed in. This was rather a mandatory mantra to show allegiance and affiliation, like one must mention "spreading democracy", "diversity" and other empty words in order to stay within the accepted political zone. In any case, suggesting that the Soviet leadership went out of its way to ensure every of their steps strictly conformed to the Marxist teaching as if they were pious rabbis checking up the Torah and the Jewish sages every minute is ridiculous to anyone who has even the most cursory understanding of the Soviet society.

There are many versions of why this happened and dmf01 has already brought up one. The version I've heard is that Andropov was fed fake intel by the Americans that they were going to strengthen their influence in Afghanistan up to the point of establishing political control over the country. The US aid to several groups, as confirmed by Brzezinsky, was perceived as an indication of such intent. Another possibility was that he took this decision out of his paranoia, choosing the most alarmist of all intelligence reports. In fact, the decision to move troops to Afghanistan was taken by only 5 out of 12 members of Politburo, with the Chief of General Staff Marshal Ogarkov and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Kosygin. Ogarkov openly and vocally objected to the invasion, citing all the obvious issues and complications it might have entailed, but he was cut short by Andropov. Kosygin, who was too well aware of the state of the Soviet economy, simply ignored the meeting as he realised what decision would be taken there. The main drivers behind the invasion plan were Andropov and Ustinov, the Minister of Defense.
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Old 23 May 17, 08:51
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Who cares? It's a Russian article of faith that no one not Russian could ever understand anything about it anyway.

Not that Russians understand Russia.
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Old 23 May 17, 09:01
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Originally Posted by Johan Banér View Post
Who cares? It's a Russian article of faith that no one not Russian could ever understand anything about it anyway.

Not that Russians understand Russia.
a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma


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I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south eastern Europe, That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia.

Thus, my friends, at some risk of being proved wrong by events, I will proclaim tonight my conviction that the second great fact of the first month of the war is that Hitler, and all that Hitler stands for, have been and are being warned off the east and the southeast of Europe.

Here I am in the same post as I was 25 years ago. Rough times lie ahead; but how different is the scene from that of October, 1914! Then Russia had been laid low at Tannenberg; then the whole might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in the battle against us; then the brave, warlike Turks were about to join our enemies. Then we had to be ready night and day to fight a decisive sea battle with a formidable German fleet almost, in many respects, the equal of our own. We faced those adverse conditions then; we have nothing worse to face tonight. We may be sure that the world will roll forward into broader destinies.

We may remember the words of old John Bright, after the American Civil War was over, when he said to an audience of English working folk: "At last after the smoke of the battlefield had cleared away, the horrid shape which had cast its shadow over the whole continent had vanished and was gone forever".

BBC Broadcast,
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1st October 1939.
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Old 23 May 17, 10:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Wow, so many BS conjectures from our "Russia expert", so unexpected. The Marxist theory in the Soviet Union started to get twisted and moulded to justify the most the most practical and appropriate political/economic strategy starting from the days of Lenin, and by the end of the 1970's it became a hollowed out shell few people sincerely believed in. This was rather a mandatory mantra to show allegiance and affiliation, like one must mention "spreading democracy", "diversity" and other empty words in order to stay within the accepted political zone. In any case, suggesting that the Soviet leadership went out of its way to ensure every of their steps strictly conformed to the Marxist teaching as if they were pious rabbis checking up the Torah and the Jewish sages every minute is ridiculous to anyone who has even the most cursory understanding of the Soviet society.

There are many versions of why this happened and dmf01 has already brought up one. The version I've heard is that Andropov was fed fake intel by the Americans that they were going to strengthen their influence in Afghanistan up to the point of establishing political control over the country. The US aid to several groups, as confirmed by Brzezinsky, was perceived as an indication of such intent. Another possibility was that he took this decision out of his paranoia, choosing the most alarmist of all intelligence reports. In fact, the decision to move troops to Afghanistan was taken by only 5 out of 12 members of Politburo, with the Chief of General Staff Marshal Ogarkov and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Kosygin. Ogarkov openly and vocally objected to the invasion, citing all the obvious issues and complications it might have entailed, but he was cut short by Andropov. Kosygin, who was too well aware of the state of the Soviet economy, simply ignored the meeting as he realised what decision would be taken there. The main drivers behind the invasion plan were Andropov and Ustinov, the Minister of Defense.
Thanks!
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Old 23 May 17, 15:27
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Who cares? It's a Russian article of faith that no one not Russian could ever understand anything about it anyway.

Not that Russians understand Russia.
I called your BS about Soviet leaders "acting in accordance with Marxist principles" and this is all you could come up with. Everyone with sufficient intellect and knowledge can understand everything, including Russia. You've just made another strawman again and your sidekick readily brought up a quote. Your problem is that your bias goggles are pitch black, which makes you cherry-pick exclusively negative facts to support your biased viewpoint, make conjectures or accept outright falsehoods as truths about Russia.
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