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Nukes Case

Essay by   •  July 26, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,706 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,321 Views

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In the essence of power politics, there is a particular conflict that serves as a text-book case of US foreign policy in response to the dynamic geo-political post-World War II landscape and the threat of Soviet-communist expansion: the proxy war in Afghanistan. As a civil war raged in the rural, mountainous-desert region between the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan Mujahideen guerilla movement, policy-advisors to the north in the Soviet Union paid close attention. Seven thousand miles away across the Pacific Ocean, US foreign policy advisors were paying close attention to the conflict as well. What was the interest of these two ultra-modern super powers in the tiny, third-world resource-void country of Afghanistan? With hardly a strong-central government or economy so much as a modern military establishment, it is difficult to see, upon first glance, the strategic value of such a country to either behemoth. A better question posed is what the conflict of interests was between the two in that region. The answer to that question is best explained through the realist paradigm: power expansion and power containment.

The Cold-War was, at its most basic level, a war of ideology. In a more literal sense, it was the carving up of the world nations into 'spheres of influence'. The USSR worked relentlessly to encompass and gain the cooperation of 'satellite' countries, not only to expand its own power and influence, but to buffer itself from attack and contain the power and influence of the West. It was an attempt by both the US and the USSR to secure a new world order; one dominated by a conglomeration of self-sustaining, class-abolishing communist political and economic systems, and another dominated by free-markets and democratic governments. In Europe, alliances were formed between the Western European nations (NATO) and in the Eastern Bloc (Warsaw Pact). In Southeast Asia, the United States waged two proxy wars against communist Russia and China, both of which were largely unsuccessful. The first was the 1950-53 Korean War fought between the Communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea (supported by the People's Republic of China, with military and material aid from the USSR) and the Republic of Korea (supported by the US and allied nations). While the invasion of the communist North was quelled successfully by US and UN forces, democratic control over the Korean peninsula was ultimately unattained, and the country remains divided to this day. The second proxy war waged was the Vietnam War of 1955-75 fought between the Communist government of North Vietnam (supported by China and its communist allies) and the government of South Vietnam (supported directly by the US). After 20-years of fighting and over 58,000 casualties, the US withdrew from the region and the capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese forces marked the end of the war.

By definition the war in Afghanistan was a proxy war. Although Afghanistan was already engulfed in a civil war, the war's intensity grew as a result of the contributions from both the Soviet Union and the US. There is no such thing as a pure proxy war as the fighting parties will always have their own agenda. Both the Soviet Union and the United States supplied opposing sides with the means (economic or military) to continue fighting.1 While the Soviet Union provided for their own military and in turn took control of Afghanistan's government, the US supplied the rebels as well as the Pakistani government and its agencies and operated their own covert operations. The US total contribution to the conflict included weapons and training, the Stinger Anti-Aircraft missiles being the most notable of these. The US CIA's Special Activities Division trained the rebels in guerrilla fighting tactics, including car bombing, bridge bombing and secure communications. The CIA also provided extensive intelligence to both the Mujahideen rebels and to the Pakistan ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) in the form of radio communications between the Soviets and satellite images of Soviet occupied areas.2 In addition to the aid supplied to the Mujahideen rebels, the US also offered two packages of support to Pakistan to aid them in the war against the Soviet Union. These packages included military and economic assistance and, in combination with support to the Mujahideen rebels, financial and military contributions from the US totals at an estimate of between 10-20 billion US dollars. The US also sold 40 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.3

The less obvious question however was whether the United States lured the Soviet Union into 'The Afghanistan Trap', a proxy war as part of CIA Cold War tactics. In an interview with President Carter's national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, he stated:

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained

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