The Roots of the Afghanistan War
After completing a controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August, the United States is facing valid questions about the legitimacy of its foreign escapades launched in the last twenty years under the banner of fighting terrorism.
It would be wishful thinking to assume that the architects of the prolonged occupation of Afghanistan recognize the error of their ways. Nevertheless, the record should be set straight on how the nation-building project in Afghanistan was ill fated from the jump. On top of that, it would behoove us to understand the factors that drew the US into this conflict in the first place. Rewinding the tape back to the Cold War provides a nuanced perspective on what propelled the US to intervene in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan against the Backdrop of the Cold War
During the Cold War, Afghanistan initially maintained equidistance from the two superpowers—the US and the Soviet Union. Though the game changed after the Saur Revolution, a revolution where the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the Republic of Afghanistan, led by then president Mohammed Daoud Khan. PDPA member Hafizullah Amin ordered the coup that resulted in the slaughter of Khan and most of his family. Once the dust settled, PDPA general secretary Nur Muhammad Taraki assumed the role of president of the newly formed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). Once settled down, the DRA quickly aligned itself with the Soviets.
Despite its pro-Soviet alignment, the DRA was mired in internal intrigue from the outset, which the Soviets watched with unease. The DRA’s repressive nature provoked massive resistance from the Afghan population as well—another factor that raised eyebrows in Moscow. As the two most prominent leaders of the DRA, Taraki and Amin were constantly jockeying for power, with the latter’s faction subsequently overthrowing Taraki and assassinating him in September 1979.
Even after taking the reins of power, Amin’s position was precarious, as he continued meting out repressive measures against the Afghan population. A controversial crackdown on the city of Herat a few months earlier had sparked a national insurrection, and the DRA was faced with the prospects of a civil war. The resistance to the DRA was diverse, although an Islamist element became the prevailing force of the anti-DRA coalition.
The Soviets were already perturbed by the growing Islamist movements in Afghanistan’s neighborhood, namely, the I
Article from Mises Wire