PART IV -- REAGAN'S FREEDOM STRATEGY AGAINST SOVIET IMPERIALISM, ESPIONAGE, AND "ACTIVE MEASURES' INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS

Chapter 17 – Taking on Soviet Imperialism in Afghanistan

Summary

Afghanistan was among the most important tests and turning points in Ronald Reagan’s freedom strategy as Reagan replaced his predecessor, Jimmy Carter’s, confused reaction to the Soviet invasion of its neighbor in December 1979. Reagan’s public speeches and reports exposed detailed facts about Soviet lies and brutalities in Afghanistan, including extensive use of “Yellow Rain” toxin (CBW) weapons against Afghan villagers. Reagan’s support for Afghanistan’s fight for independence and potential paths of freedom involved covert assistance to the Mujahedin resistance including provision of U.S. Stinger missiles able to destroy Soviet helicopters and aircraft, providing Chinese AK–47 assault rifles, and working with pro-resistance elements in Pakistan. Reagan raised the Soviet cost of empire in Afghanistan to the point that Soviet forces withdrew a few weeks after the end of his presidency. Regrettably, Reagan’s victory was followed by U.S. inattention in the 1990s that eased the path for the Taliban to assume power. Safe haven was gained by Al-Qaeda extremists who launched their terror strikes against the United States on September 11, 2001. At this writing, the U.S. and Allied gains that followed years of war, sacrifice, and progress, were at extreme risk in the wake of rapid U.S. and Allied force withdrawals and continued Afghan political and religious divisions. Coupled with destabilizing activity launched from neighboring Pakistan and Iran, it spells a potentially tragic outcome for the future of peace and independence in Afghanistan and the region absent substantial changes in Afghan and U.S./Allied leadership.

[Book pg. 401]

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