Chapter 17 – Taking on Soviet Imperialism in Afghanistan

on the U.N. General Assembly resolution and the U.N. negotiation process in Geneva.” Among the report’s detailed depictions are those of the role of the Soviet KGB’s Afghan counterpart KHAD, Marxist re-education, and the findings of international organizations like Doctors Without Borders.

Reagan on Soviet Crushing of “National Liberation”—December 1985. Following his reelection in November 1984, Reagan used his strengthened second-term mandate to continue his strong statements and stepped up his critiques of Soviet brutality in Afghanistan after Mikhail Gorbachev became the new Soviet leader in March 1985. Reagan’s Statement on the Sixth Anniversary of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan on December 27, 1985, kept pressure on Gorbachev and tackled a favorite Soviet propaganda term—the Soviet claim to be fighting so-called “wars of national liberation” in Afghanistan and elsewhere: Thus:

The Soviets and their Afghan surrogates have resorted to barbaric methods of waging war in their effort to crush this war of national liberation. Indiscriminate air and artillery bombardments against civilian areas, savage reprisals against noncombatants suspected of supporting the resistance, and the calculated destruction of crops and irrigation systems have ravaged the Afghan countryside. Thousands of young Afghans are being shipped to the Soviet Union for reeducation in summer camps, universities, and specialized institutions.21

Reagan’s Statement on the Sixth Anniversary of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan on December 27, 1985 included the point that: “The Soviet-supported regime in Kabul has failed to gain even a modicum of popular support or international acceptance.”

Reagan’s Radio Address to the Nation on the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan on December 28, 1985 spoke directly to the high moral and strategic stakes and responsibilities at hand in the global battle for freedom and to the kindred human spirit in Afghanistan:

My friends, I want to ask for your help to make sure that those who struggle in Afghanistan receive effective support from us. Indeed, such support is a compelling, moral responsibility of all free people. What takes place in that far-off land is of vital importance to our country and the world. Certainly the struggle in Afghanistan is of great strategic military importance. Yet the most important battle involves not guns, but the human spirit—the longing to be free and the duty to help the oppressed. If the free world were to turn its back on Afghanistan, then, in a sense, the free world would become less free and less humane.22

Reagan’s Statement Following a Meeting With Leaders of the Afghan Resistance Alliance on June 16, 1986 at the White House encouraged the Afghan Resistance leaders and invoked U.N. resolutions to keep up U.S. and United Nations pressure on the Soviet Union. Thus: “Year after year, U.N. resolutions have called for a total and rapid withdrawal of Soviet troops and for self-determination for the Afghan people. Let us renew that call today.”23

A report titled World Press Assails Soviets on Seventh Anniversary of Afghanistan Invasion, issued on January 22, 1987, is an example of the U.S. Information Service’s Foreign Media Analysis series, which covered the world press on specific topics, including Afghanistan. In a three-week review of more than 40 key journals in over 20 countries, it found constant condemnation of the Soviet occupation, calls for rapid withdrawal, and signals of mixed views about Soviet intentions on such withdrawals.

Reagan’s Remarks on Signing the Afghanistan Day Proclamation on March 20, 1987 included the following eloquent “no compromise” statement on the stakes in Afghanistan:

You know, sometimes my friends in the Congress and I have differences on certain subjects, but I think here, on this particular one, I assure you, that we will continue our joint efforts in support of the freedom fighters efforts to win back your country’s freedom. Free people everywhere agree that there can be no compromise on the goal of Afghan independence, and that means the total withdrawal of all Soviet forces and the full self-determination of the Afghan people. No other settlement will end that war.24

[Book pg. 412]