Monday, January 31, 2005

Condi Rice and Kabul

One of the alleged qualifications that Condoleeza Rice brings to her job as Secretary of State is expertise on the history and politics of Russia and the former Soviet Union. But in Bob Woodward's Bush At War (Simon & Schuster, 2002; p.219), Rice is quoted as telling the President and the NSC that the Russians never occupied Kabul. Well, the Russians did just that -- in December, 1979. Someone in Rice's position at that time (the President's national security advisor) should have known better. And it is even more disturbing that the American military strategy in Afghanistan, pursuing a simplistic "let's do the opposite of what the Russians did" approach, started with completely inaccurate information. This is political misuse of history.

For accounts of the Soviet invasion occupation of Kabul, see M. Hassan Kakar, Afghanistan : the Soviet invasion and the Afghan response, 1979-1982 (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1995), pp. 21-31, or J. Bruce Amstutz, Afghanistan : the first five years of Soviet occupation (Washington, D.C. : National Defense University Press, 1986), pp. 46-49. The Soviets flew about 5,000 men into Kabul; some of these stormed the Presidential Palace and killed President Amin.

Or, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Afghanistan .

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