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Why the Soviets Invaded


There were several reasons for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. These reasons
were both ones given by the communist party to its Soviet citizens and the real reasons for
the invasion whichwere not disclosed to the general population.

A War of Liberation
The Soviet people were told that in fact this action was about the liberation of the
Afghan communists. Soviet people were used to this type of reasoning from earlier actions
in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba and Eastern Europe. In fact many of these actions were a
source of pride for Soviet citizens. Under Soviet ideology it was imperative to defend and
proliferate any exsisting communist state. This reasoning worked well until the information
of Soviet atrocites came to light even within USSR borders.

A Battle Against Islamic Extremism

In the face of rising intensity of the conflict and news of Soviet attrocities, the
government began to portray the war as a war against Islamic fundamentalism. This was a
perfect tactic for two basic reasons. First of all, by saying that the Afghans were Islamic
fundamentalists, the Soviet government was excusing the attrocities that were committed
by Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. The reasoning for this being that, if the soldiers are
fighting a fundamentalist foe that is employing extreme measures, the Soviet soldiers
should not be blamed for answering in kind. The second reason takes us back to Soviet
ideology. Atheism was one of the base teachings of Soviet communism. Therefore, the
fundamentally religious Afghans were "wrong" and should be saved from their own
ignorance. This is an interesting twist on history, as the reason that most invaders gave for
ivasion was to bring religion to a "godless" people. These reasons are not as groundless as
they may seem. In fact the Soviet government did have real fear of having an extremist
government directly on the Soviet border. Having such a country on the border would
bring further instability to an already ethnically tense group of republics (Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, etc.) Therefore, by invading Afghanistan, and creating
a stable communist block, the USSR would have buffer zone from the changing Middle
East (Pakistan and Iran).

Geopolitical Reasons




1) By creating a stable communist government in Afghanistan, the USSR hoped to gain

access to the Indian Ocean through friendly India. Russia desperately needed a warm
weather port that opened onto a major ocean. This would provide year-round access to
important trade routes and it would also increase the USSR's naval presence.
2) Control of Afghanistan would open easier trade with India and its huge population, as
well as trade with the Middle East. By creating this huge trading block, the USSR would
rival the trading power of the Western block countries.
3) Afghanistan is also known to contain a number of natural resources, (natural gas,
uranium, iron ore, and copper) that the Soviets would have loved to have gained control
The previous reasons seem imperialistic as well as anit Marxsist-Leninist ideology, which is
correct due to the fact that the USSR was indeed an imperialistic government despite its
proclaimed ideology.

Use of Soviet Forces

A large part of maintaining a super-power status is demonstrating military might as well

as the willingness to use this power. Afghanistan seemed to be the perfect place to
demonstrate Soviet might. Prior to the time of the Afghanistan invasion, the USSR had not
been directly involved in any large scale military action for quite some time. The Soviets
thought that a small scale engagement in Afghanistan, could be used as a prooving ground
for a new generation of soldiers and military equipment. They were unaware of the fact
that this would be no small scale engagment, nor would it prove the compitence of either
Soviet soldiers, nor that of USSR military equipment.
After it became obvious that the invasion of Afghanistan would not be an easy
endeavor, the Soivets could not pull out their forces, due to the early losses of Soviet
soldiers. Pulling out without accomplishing the set goals would seem like a waste of the
already lost lives.

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