by Alex Lantier
In the press coverage of President Barack Obama's recent decision to deploy more US troops to Afghanistan, a historical milestone has gone curiously unmentionedthe 30th anniversary of the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan, which began on December 27, 1979.
An examination of the circumstances of this event undermines Obama's claims that American policy in Afghanistan is motivated by a "war on terror," revealing instead the imperialist aims behind US policy.
At the time, President Jimmy Carter seized on the Soviet interventionwhich aimed to suppress mujahadeen rebels fighting the Soviet-backed regime of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)to undo a decade of détente and escalate tensions with the USSR. This critical decision unleashed a conflict that would ultimately devastate Afghan society.
It emerged only years later that the Soviet invasion was itself a response to a deliberate US attempt to set up a new military front against the USSR in Afghanistan. Even before the Soviet invasion, Washington was secretly assisting the mujahadeen, with the aim of provoking a Soviet intervention and trapping the USSR in a bloody quagmire. The US foreign policy establishment's ultimate goal in pursuing this policy was to destroy the USSR and promote an expansion of US power in strategically located, oil-rich Central Asia...
Washington's policy towards the Soviet-Afghan war was marked by unsurpassed cynicism. It unleashed a barrage of sanctimonious protests against an invasion it had helped promote, including organizing a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. As it sent billions of dollars in weaponry to the mujahadeen, it publicly denied that it was giving the rebels any assistance.
Though Washington proclaimed that its Afghan proxies were "freedom fighters," the mujahadeen and their international backers were social reactionaries. With the assistance of right-wing Muslim regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the US promoted Islamic fundamentalist warlords within the resistance. Washington turned a blind eye as they exterminated competing mujahadeen factions and funded themselves through large-scale opium sales.
When the mujahadeen proved incapable of organizing attacks on Kabul and strategic roadways, the CIA armed and trained international Muslim recruits to launch terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. The young Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden oversaw these global recruitment networks, which later formed the core of Al Qaeda.