News / Europe

25 Years After Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Many Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned 25 Years After Soviet Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistani
February 14, 2014 11:57 AM
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. As U.S. forces draw down from Afghanistan later this year, questions arise about the lessons learned from the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. VOA's Kokab Farshori has the details
VIDEO: This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. As U.S. forces prepapre their own draw down later this year, questions about the Soviet's 1989 departure arise.
Kokab Farshori
As the U.S. prepares to draw down combat forces in Afghanistan later this year, wrapping up the longest war in American history, questions arise about lessons learned from the Soviet's own 1989 withdrawal, which happened 25 years ago today.

Fears of leaving the war-stricken country in bad shape, much as the Kremlin did a quarter-century ago, are only exacerbated by tensions surrounding Afghan President Hamid Karzai's unwillingness to sign a security deal with the United States that would allow some Western troops to remain in the country.

While the impending U.S. draw down veritably begs for comparison to the Soviet pullout, Brookings Institution security expert Michael O’Hanlon says to think twice before drawing explicit parallels.

"There are really no parallels in how we got to the war in the first place or how we fought the war," O'Hanlon said. "And now the United States, as part of the coalition, is spending five years on a gradual process of reducing its forces in Afghanistan. But the Soviets had decided at one point that they had lost, and they left."

While a bloody civil war followed the Soviet departure, such a massive conflict may be less likely in today’s Afghanistan, which appears to be in better shape than it was 25 years, says Ahmad Majidyar of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.

"It is the first time that the Afghans have an elected government, whereas during the Soviet time, the Afghan leaders were appointed by the Kremlin," he said. "And the second key difference is that the insurgency in Afghanistan is very much limited compared to the insurgency of Mujahideen in 1980s. There are perhaps 25,000 active Taliban fighters, but during the 1980s, that number surpassed 100,000."

Crucial lessons

But according to O'Hanlon, the most critical lesson Washington could learn from a post-Soviet Afganistan isn't likely to be found at the end of 2014, but in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001.

"I think the first lesson the United States learned it learned after 9/11, and that lesson was [that] we cannot ignore or abandon Afghanistan," O'Hanlon said. "After the Soviets were defeated, we essentially stopped paying attention, and through the 1990s, the United States basically ignored Afghanistan and let it descend into sectarian conflict, anarchy, and then of course the rise of the Taliban and, of course, sanctuaries resulted from that."

While some experts dismiss similarities between the Soviet's 1989 withdrawal and the 2014 U.S. draw down, they agree that the world cannot afford to let the country revert into a terrorists' safe haven.

"The Taliban does not have the means to re-establish itself or recapture Kabul, so the real threat is not from a Taliban military offensive after the NATO withdrawal," Majidyar said.

He added that commitment from the international community will be vital to Afghan governance and that Afghans themselves should be united to save the political structure they now have.

"It's about the sustainability of the Afghan institutions," Majidyar said.

Earlier this week, Afghanistan has released 65 accused militants from a former U.S. detention facility near Bagram Air Base, despite warnings from the United States.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the release was a "major step backwards" for the rule of law in Afghanistan, and poses serious security concerns as U.S. troops prepare to leave.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: kaiser from: ae
February 15, 2014 12:35 PM
And also be noted they left pakistan alone yo handle million of Afghan national as refugees in Pakistan.

Pakistan got lots of cross border funded terrorism which help in growth of local terrorist and militant group.

USA will leave unstable pakistan and afghan and stay thousand miles away and will see them in more worst condition.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs