29 November 2010

The U.S. has now been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets

The last Red Army troops left Feb. 15, 1989, driven out after nine years and 50 days by the U.S.-backed Afghan fighters...

Western officials generally shun comparisons between the Soviet conflict and this one. The aims, the manner of waging the conflicts, the numbers of dead, the treatment of Afghan civilians — all these, they argue, are vastly different.

The Soviet invasion sprang from Cold War geopolitical machinations, with Moscow's troops keeping an unpopular Communist regime in power. The U.S.-led war, targeting Al Qaeda and the Taliban, began with an air assault Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks.

For the Soviets, the scope of bloodletting in their Afghan war was enormous, with 13,833 dead troops and tens of thousands maimed. U.S. military fatalities to date total about one-tenth that: 1,403 as of Friday, according to the website icasualties.org...

Despite the contrasts, the two wars have vivid narrative elements in common: An invading force finds that its vast military superiority is no guarantee of victory against a guerrilla insurgency; resentment against foreigners sometimes boils over; the terrain is timelessly formidable; local ways can seem impenetrably mysterious...
The rest of the story is at the Los Angeles Times.

See my previous post on Michael Palin's comments re Afghanistan,  and the poem cited by sobriquet in the Comments section.


  1. Afghanistan, where empires go to die.

  2. In absence of actually producing things of value you've gotta have a jobs program.


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