Chapter 17 – Taking on Soviet Imperialism in Afghanistan

around the globe, it details the heavy human toll of the Soviet invasion and the difficult struggle of the anti-Soviet resistance forces. Specific sections of the report covered the Soviet occupation, victims of Soviet air and ground warfare, the Mujahedin Resistance fighters, and U.S./Western objectives. Two excerpts follow:

[Popular Resistance] When city-wide, anti-Soviet strikes and demonstrations erupted in 1980, according to eyewitness accounts reported in the Western press, the Soviets and Soviet-directed Afghan troops suppressed them with armored vehicles and helicopters, gunning down hundreds of massed demonstrators who were trapped in narrow streets. Violent demonstrations also have occurred in Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and other towns. In response to such wide-spread opposition, the regime has imprisoned tens of thousands of Afghans, many of them in Kabul’s Pul-i-Charki prison. (headings added)

[A Summary] The people of Afghanistan are demonstrating an extraordinary measure of courage and fortitude in the face of great adversity. Individuals, groups and nations around the world can show support by insisting upon the full withdrawal of Soviet troops, condemning the indiscriminate destruction of villages and bombing of civilian populations, providing aid to the more than two million Afghan refugees, and calling for the reestablishment of Afghanistan as a nonaligned independent nation. The people of Afghanistan are defining a culture, a religion, a history, a homeland. Their struggle continues, their spirit remains unvanquished.11

Afghan Suffering and Independence—1982. Reagan’s own early presidential statements on Afghanistan include his Remarks on Signing the Afghanistan Day Proclamation on March 10, 1982. He contrasts the warfare, illegitimacy, and propaganda of the massive Soviet invading force with the resistance of the Afghan people, comparing the situation to episodes of Soviet military pressure elsewhere, including against the Polish people. His words include the following:

[Human Rights] The Afghans, like the Poles, wish nothing more, as you’ve just been so eloquently told, than to live their lives in peace, to practice their religion in freedom, and to exercise their right to self-determination. . . . Nowhere are basic human rights more brutally violated than in Afghanistan today. . . .

I want to address the claim made by the Soviet Union—that its troops entered Afghanistan and must remain there as a result of foreign intervention against the Kabul government. The world is well aware that this is nothing more than propaganda designed to divert international attention from the sordid reality. The foreign interference in Afghanistan comes from the nearly 100,000 Soviet armed invaders . . .

Their heroic struggle has carried a terrible cost. Many thousands of Afghans, often innocent civilians, women and children, have been killed and maimed. Entire villages and regions have been destroyed and depopulated. Some 3 million people have been driven into exile—that’s one out of every five Afghans. The same proportion of Americans would produce a staggering 50 million refugees. . . .

[Support for Afghanistan Abroad] The Islamic Conference, deeply troubled over this assault on Moslem religion, has four times condemned the Soviet occupation. . . . The European Parliament took the leadership in advancing the idea of a worldwide commemoration of Afghanistan Day. . . . We’re joined here today by members of the parliaments of Japan, Kenya, Panama, Thailand, and Austria.

[Support in U.S.] . . . A distinguished former Secretary of State, William P. Rogers, is coordinating the observance of Afghan Day in the United States. He not only has my strong support but that of former Presidents Carter, Ford, and Nixon and former Secretaries of State Muskie, Vance, Kissinger, and Rusk. (headings added)12

Afghan Non-Alignment. Reagan’s Statement on the Observance of the Afghan New Year on March 20, 1982 refutes propagandistic Soviet rationales for the unprovoked invasion and repeats his call for a non-aligned Afghanistan. Thus:

We cannot accept the transparent Soviet rationale for their invasion of Afghanistan, namely, that they were invited in by the Afghan Government. How can the Soviets explain the mysterious death of the President who supposedly invited them in and his replacement by a Soviet nominee who had conveniently been living in Eastern Europe? Nor can we accept the Soviet claim that the cause of the conflict in Afghanistan is external interference on the part of powers other than the Soviet Union itself. There has, indeed, been external interference in Afghanistan. But that interference has been committed by the Soviet Union itself, which, utterly without provocation, invaded that free and nonaligned nation and imposed its will on an independent people. . . .
Virtually the entire community of nations is already on record as supporting the concept of a return to the previous status quo, in which Afghanistan was a nonaligned nation threatening no one.13

[Book pg. 408]