The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a critical stage in the Cold War. It became the Soviets own Vietnam disaster and prompted the US to fund rebels that led to the formation of Al Qaeda from the foreign fighters supporting the rebels, and its eventual attacks on the US, that led to the NATO invasion of Afghanistan. As with other titles in this series, text is concise and the book stands on the very high quality and rarity of its illustrations.
NAME: Images of War, The Soviet-Afghan War
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Anthony Tucker-Jones
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Cold War, Afghan Wars, Soviet intervention, Armour, MBT, fighting tank, technology, helicopter gunships, close support fighters
DESCRIPTION: The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a critical stage in the Cold War. It became the Soviets own Vietnam disaster and prompted the US to fund rebels that led to the formation of Al Qaeda from the foreign fighters supporting the rebels, and its eventual attacks on the US, that led to the NATO invasion of Afghanistan. As with other titles in this series, text is concise and the book stands on the very high quality and rarity of its illustrations.
What was often forgotten during the Cold War was that Russian expansion under the Czars continued under the Soviets and has continued under the new Czar Putin. Russians have always looked to expand south into India and east into Asia. This process goes through cycles. One leader will expand Russian boundaries, only for a later leader to withdraw and the process then starting over again. That pattern has been followed for centuries and the Soviets only changed the selection of a leader.
Afghanistan has always been the Russian doorway into India. For that reason, the British invaded Afghanistan in the Nineteenth Century to protect their interests in India. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, following a period of civil war in the late 1970s, their motives were complex. In part it was an attempt to expand and liven up the Cold War, in part it was to protect the Russian gut and in part it was a fear of Islamic expansion from Iran and Afghanistan into the largely Islamic Southern republics of the Soviet Union.
What the Russian invasion created was a new surge in fundamentalist Islam, a humiliating retreat, increasing rebellion by fundamentalist Muslims in the Soviet Union, and a speeding of the collapse of the Soviet era. It became a running sore and witnessed barbaric war crimes by the Soviets that helped recruit for Al Qaeda. To prevent the Russians achieving victory, the US was forced to funnel arms and funds to the rebels that allowed Al Qaeda to become a global franchise that would attempt to attack the US and Europe.
As with the US involvement in South Vietnam, the Russians began by sending in advisers, funds and weapons to those favourable to Russian interests. That flow became a torrent and led to Soviet troops to take over as an occupying force with poor local support from amongst the Afghans. That in turn led to the Russians sending in their latest technology and Special Forces. It also led to the Soviets adapting technologies and tactics in an attempt to achieve a military victory.
The author has selected some exceptional photographs to illustrate this process and to support his text. This is a provoking account of a key stage of the Cold War and the rise of militant Islam. It deserves to be widely read because the story in this troubled region continues, the Soviet invasion is part of its heritage and a failure to achieve a political settlement promises continuing conflict and the threat of nuclear war.