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Soviet Afghan War, Research Paper Example

Pages: 11

Words: 2952

Research Paper

The Soviet–Afghan War was a nine year-long conflict, beginning in 1979 and ended in 1989. The Afghans fought to support the Soviet Union, while Mujahideen, comprised of two groups known as Peshawar Seven and the Tehran Eight, were backed by the United States and its allies. Ultimately, the United States, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia provided support to these insurgent groups by financing their training in Pakistan and China in addition to providing them with weapons. While the conflict was deemed necessary by both the United States and Russia to protect their political interests, the results of this conflict still appear today, as the weapons and training provided to these groups are said to be the weapon sources used by terrorists today.

This war is important because it provides an excellent example of the power held by world leaders, such as Russia and the United States, compared to the power held by the Middle Eastern states at the time. The Cold War evolved from political differences between the United States and Russia, but this conflict manifested itself in a manner that caused innocent countries and people to become involved. While the United States and Russia initially engaged in this war to demonstrate technological prowess, the fight also began to focus on the need to develop allies in case a real war were to break out. At the end of the war, the world was relieved that the two nations had not engaged in any physical warfare and that there was no need to use nuclear weapons. However, during the conflict, the United States and Russia used other countries and groups as their pawns to achieve their political means. It is clear that in the Soviet-Afghan War, the countries are using allied groups to do the fighting for them. While this was the case because the Middle East was a strategic area to have control over, it is clear that the governments of both nations became engaged in this conflict to suit their own needs and were unconcerned about what their tendency to involve other nations in their problems would cause.

The Soviet-Afghan War is a major marker of American policy that has continued since the end of the conflict. Even though the Soviet’s entered Afghanistan to gain political control, the United States and allied nations recognized the need to support the rights of the people living in these areas and aimed to help these people resist Soviet control. While the intention of this assistance was to help rebel groups achieve freedom, a secondary goal was to prevent the Soviet Union from gaining control in the region, which would have been detrimental to the United States’ ability to compete with the nation. At the beginning of the conflict, the Soviet Union sent more than 100,000 troops to the region in order to gain control of the region. This frightened the United States because the Middle East is a strategic area due to its geographic location and availability of natural resources. Therefore, when the nation recognized that the Soviet’s would attempt to destroy Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, they responded by providing these rebels with training and weapons in order to support their cause. Rather than becoming involved in the fighting themselves, the United States and their allies attempted to support their political needs by allowing those with more at stake to carry out this mission for them.

While the United States made this political decision in order to avoid becoming involved in active warfare, this decision was a troubling one. Ultimately, the Soviet Union demonstrated that it was willing to become directly involved with international affairs in order to achieve its goals, while the United States demonstrated that it was not willing to match these intentions. Therefore, the United States determined a strategic way in which it would be able to protect its interests without contributing to a significant loss of American life. While providing the rebels with support may have been necessary for humanitarian purposes, the efficacy of this mission could have been better achieved if the United States had sent troops to the Middle East in lieu of weapons. While these weapons provided the support that the rebels needed to defend themselves against the Soviet’s in this moment, this action demonstrated that weapon support was not sufficient to prevent against a severe loss of life. Therefore, it may have been advantageous for the United States to either become involved in the conflict directly or to have avoided becoming involved altogether.

Ultimately the Soviet-Afghan was can therefore be said to be a reflection of the tension rising between the United State and its allies in addition to the Soviet Union and its allies. Furthermore, this original conflict mirrors the same struggle that the United States is currently having with Russia. The saying that history is doomed to repeat itself is highly applicable in this situation, as it is clear that the United States’ response to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is highly reflective of its international policy today. The country feels required to rectify the mistakes that it has made during this conflict, so many troops remain to be stationed in the Middle East. In addition Cold War tensions continue to exist with Russia and the United States has discontinued many of its trade relationships with the nation as a consequence of differing political ideology. The United States is particularly concerned with Russia’s interactions with the Ukraine, and has mirrored its past involvement with the Soviet Union by providing aid to the individuals that live in the region. While the United States has not provided the country with support in the form of weapons, humanitarian aid has been deemed a necessity, and these items were provided as a consequence.

At the end of the Soviet-Afghan war, a major consequence of the fighting was the rise of the Taliban as the government institution. While many rebels and the United States assumed that this government would be more democratic than its predecessors, the government instead revealed itself as the opposite of this. Furthermore, the main incentives of the group were to destroy the Western pressures that attempted to control them during this conflict. The growth of the Taliban can be considered one of the aspects of the Soviet-Afghan War that can be considered a long-term loss of the nation. While it appeared that the United States become involved in the conflict in order to support the rights of the rebels, the new government ultimately took these rights away and focused on their anger at the United States for becoming involved in their affairs. Ultimately, the provision of weapons made this power struggle in the Civil War between Afghan groups more challenging and a great number of lives were lost as a result. In the time following the war, the Taliban continued to grow in a manner that aimed to counter the actions of the United States in the region, attempting to remove them from political affiliation with the country altogether. However, the group was not able to accomplish this peacefully, and their anger and frustration towards the political situation in their country manifested in the September 11 terrorist attacks and other terrorist attempts to demonstrate the power of the new government.

Interestingly, the modern tension that we experience with both Afghanistan and Russia can be said to stem from this conflict for this reason. If Russia had not entered the country in order to achieve political means, it is highly likely that American troops would not be stationed in the region today and that political tensions would not have risen between the United States and Afghanistan. As a consequence, it is possible that the September 11 attacks could have been avoided. While it doesn’t seem likely that the modern United States will be able to make peace with Russia, it needs to treat its international relations in a manner that makes a greater consideration of potential political effects of decisions. It is important that the country learns from its past mistakes to cease its involvement in unwinnable battles that continue today.

America’s modern military policy has stemmed from our need to be stationed in the Middle East as an extension of this conflict. While there have been many attempts to send American troops home, the numbers of these troops stationed abroad have waned at best. On one hand the United States believes that these troops should still remain in the country to defend the rebels that they had initially been sent there to protect. These rebels are still considered allies against terrorism and the United States aims to receive their continued support against terrorist organizations. On the other hand, it is clear that the presence of the military in this region may be causing more harm than good at this point in time and is may be valuable for the troops to leave so that the nation could take care of its own affairs. It is difficult for the United States to recognize that it was wrong in sending troops overseas initially however, so it has become progressively more difficult to reverse the mistakes it has made since the time of the Soviet-Afghan war. Interestingly, even though Russia was involved in this problem as well, they are not seen as the targets of violence like the United States, indicating that Russia and the Afghan government can still be considered allies to some extent.

In order to prevent future occurrences like the unwinnable war in the Middle East, it is necessary for the United States to take many steps that would help diminish its presence in the region. President Barack Obama has already promised that he would reduce the amount of troops in the region, and not much progress has been made on this front. It is therefore important to make this issue known, including the historical context for our placement overseas, in order to put an end to this. The sooner that American troops are removed from Afghanistan and other strategic areas in the Middle East, the sooner that terrorist organizations will stop feeling an anti-American sentiment for our continued involvement in their political affairs. At this point in time, there seems to be no reasonable solution to the problem overseas or a benefit from our continued presences. It would be reasonable to send humanitarian aid over to groups that need help in the region, but it is important to avoid presenting them with weapons and military training in order to prevent the conflict from becoming more violent over time.

Instead of focusing on offense in the Middle East, it is important for the country to focus on defense at home. It is likely that terrorist groups such as the Taliban and the newly formed ISIS will make further attempts to destroy American lives. Therefore, our military personal should focus on determining how to detect the likelihood that these attacks will occur and how to stop them before they can harm American citizens. The best way to resolve a power struggle is to demonstrate a greater amount of power and intelligence without participating in activities that cause human lives to end. Therefore, this should be the focus of the anti-terrorism campaign. Many critics of the United States involvement in Afghanistan believed that the war should have ended years ago, even though this has not been the case. To demonstrate the strength of the nation, it is thus important to demonstrate that we do have the ability to withdraw our troops from combat zones, and this action will have many clear benefits to the nation.

Not only will withdrawing troops from combat zones demonstrate that the United States has the power in the situation, it will help refocus the nation’s military power in a manner that will allow them to benefit the American people at home instead of abroad. American involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War and the many political events that followed the war have allowed the United States military to incur a great cost and loss of life for activities that have not been beneficial in establishing a continued liberty among citizens. Therefore, by ending the need for these costs and by stopping the likelihood for American lives to be lost, the government can focus on the local needs of its residents. The wealth that is currently being invested to strengthen the military can be redistributed in a manner that bolsters local living by enhancing the economy and by providing support to many service agencies, including those that support veterans for fighting our wars. Furthermore, a lack of focus on the war in Afghanistan itself could allow politicians to refocus on the importance of international affairs and to develop a new plan in a manner that will allow it to promote the country’s welfare at home before it considers interfering with practices abroad.

The Soviet-Afghan War has presented many themes with regards to international politics that continue to be relevant today. Even though this power struggle began initially so that the Soviet Union would be able to gain strategic control over the Middle East, the conflict ended with the assumption that there were weapons of mass destruction in the region as a consequence of Soviet involvement. This demonstrates that in spite of the fact that the conflict ended in 1989, the American government continued to be worried that Soviet influence would remain prominent in the area, contributing to an American disadvantage. As a consequence we are still involved with eliminating the terror risk that poses itself in the Middle East in addition to dealing with tensions from Russia. In a sense, it can be said that the Soviet-Afghan War has never truly come to an end.

Overall, America has many lessons that it has learned from this conflict. One is that actions should be taken in a manner that allows them to recognize all possible outcomes, even the negative. At the time, it seemed that the United States needed to become involved in the Middle East in order to out power the Soviet Union, who were believed to have had access to nuclear weapons. Therefore, the nation attempted to defend itself by preventing the ability for the country to befriend nations in strategic locations. However, it can be argued that this defense attempt has failed and has continued to fail since it was initially launched. It is important for the United States to learn from its mistakes or it will continue to falter with regards to the power it has in world affairs. The positon of the country is currently weakening compared to countries like China, European Nations, and even Russia, so it is important for the nation to look upon its past mistakes in order to create a new policy that will contribute to a sustainable future.

In conclusion, the Soviet-Afghan War is characterized by many themes that continue to be pertinent to relations between the United States and Russia in addition to the United States and the Middle East today. In an attempt to compete with Russian military prowess in the Middle East, the United States and its allies provided military support to rebels opposing the Soviet government and their allies in a manner that did not require them to become involved in the fighting themselves. Ultimately, this attempt to help these rebels achieve justice backfired significantly, as it caused many lives to be lost on either side of the conflict and contributed to an uprising of a new military government, which the rebels had intended to prevent. As a consequence, this war created a new enemy for the United States, the Taliban, which were responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks and many prior attempts on American lives. It can also be said that ISIS grew as a consequence of unrest in the Middle East and the hate that the residents of the region have towards the United States as a consequence of their refusal to remove military forces from the area. Therefore, an important way to resolve this problem would be to remove American troops from the region to demonstrate that America is still in control of these types of decisions. The stationed troops are no longer providing benefit to the individuals living in Afghanistan and support could be provided to them instead by giving them humanitarian aid. It is imperative for the United States to revise its international affairs policies to prevent such as disaster from occurring again in the future. It is important for the country to understand that the past is doomed to repeat itself and to make more careful decisions regarding its involvement in international politics as a consequence.

Bibliography

Baker, K.J. War in Afghanistan: A Short History of Eighty Wars and Conflicts in Afghanistan and the North-west Frontier 1839 – 2011. Australia: Rosenberg Publishing, 2011

Braithwaite, Rodric. Afgantsy the Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Dibb, Paul. “The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Lessons to be Learned?” Australian Journal of International Affairs 64, no. 5 (Nov 2010): 495-509.

Dörre, Andrei, and Tobias Kraudzun. “Persistence and Change in Soviet and Russian Relations with Afghanistan.” Central Asian Survey 31, no. 4 (2012): 425-43.

Fivecoat, David. “Leaving the Graveyard: The Soviet Union’s Withdrawal from Afghanistan.” Parameters 42, no. 2 (2012): 42-55.

Grau, Lester W. The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

Hughes, Geraint. “The Soviet-Afghan War, 1978-1989: An Overview.” Defence Studies 8, no. 3 (2008): 326-50.

Jalali, Ali Ahmad, and Lester W. Grau. The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War. Quantico: U.S. Marine Corps, Studies and Analysis Division, 1999.

Kalinovsky, Artemy. “Decision Making and the Soviet War in Afghanistan.” Journal of Cold War Studies 11, no 4 (Fall 2009):46-73.

Robinson, Paul. “Soviet Hearts and Minds Operations in Afghanistan.” Historian 72, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 1-22.

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