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The War in Afghanistan: Incredible pictures: Part 1

The Americans and the West watched in glee as the Russians beat a hasty retreat from Afghanistan in 1989. The Soviet Union collapsed soon after.

Today China watches with a smirk as the Americans prepare to do what the Russians did 20 years ago.

Will history repeat itself, with merely the names changing?

"I believe a free Afghanistan is in this nation's interest."-- George Bush

Quotes in 2001

"I order you to completely obey your commanders and not to go hither and thither. Any person who goes hither and thither is like a slaughtered chicken that falls and dies. You should regroup yourselves, resist and fight"
Taliban leader Mullar Omar's radio address to his troops

Quotes in 2001
"This time we will not walk away from you. We have given a commitment and we will honour that. We are with you for the long term. You are the people who must agree your own government and your own future. But we will give you the help and support you need as you seek to rebuild your troubled country."

Tony Blair to the Afghan people


1989: Soviet troops pull out of Afghanistan {From BBC}

Soviet troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, nine years after they swept into the country.

A convoy of Soviet armoured vehicles travelled the 260-mile (418km) journey to the USSR border while other soldiers left aboard an Ilyushin 76 transport aircraft.

Earlier, the Soviet government had announced the departure of the last troops although snow had delayed a five-day airlift from the Afghan capital Kabul.

The journey is especially dangerous on the Salang Pass through the Hindu Kush Mountains, where more than 10,000 mujahideen operate.

The mujahideen - Afghan Islamic fighters - have been involved in heavy battles to try to force a Soviet retreat.

Huge snow drifts are blocking the southern approaches to the pass, while the descent on the northern side is a wall of ice.

Russian forces are not alone in leaving Afghanistan. Families of Afghan refugees have been crossing the border into Pakistan.

Border guards have reported that a dozen families have crossed through the Khyber Pass in the last few hours.

Over the past two months, up to 20,000 have fled heavy fighting between the mujahideen and Soviet troops.

A handful of foreign correspondents have been allowed to join the Soviet convoy leaving Kabul, but only for the relatively safe last stretch of the journey, which has been secured by soldiers.

President Sayid Mohammed Najibullah's Soviet-backed Afghan government has acknowledged the complete withdrawal of soldiers with a brief statement.

"I express my appreciation to the people and government of the Soviet Union for all-round assistance and continued solidarity in defending Afghanistan," the president said.

Ahead of the departure, the mujahideen fired four rockets at the capital, with three landing in the airport area and the fourth on shops.

At Kabul's airport, most international and domestic flights are arriving and departing as usual.

According to latest BBC reports, Kabul is surrounded by a mujahideen force of around 30,000, with the city under artillery and rocket "bombardment".

Machine-gun and artillery fire could be heard during the night and this morning while a sign at the British Embassy reads "closing down temporarily". The American embassy has put up a sign which says "extended holidays for all staff - date of return not fixed".

A diplomat has reported that President Najibullah, although tired, is still defiant and is determined to play a role in the future of Afghanistan.

The Soviet daily newspaper Trud has revealed that some garrisons have been looted.

The return of the Red Army coincides with the decision by Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to cut the Soviet armed forces by up to 500,000, with the Kremlin emphasising the heroism of those who fought in the war.

On the streets of Kabul there is a heavier presence of armed police and queues for bread are as long as ever.

Quotes in 2001
"I am so happy. If you were a woman with any spirit, the Taliban crushed it. Today is a good day."

Ex-teacher Fauzia Shama, 30, on liberation day

Quotes in 2001
"I hated this beard. It's like being free"
Ahmed Rashef, in a barber's chair for the first time since the Taliban made beards compulsory

Quotes in 2001
"We will not accept a government of wrong-doers. We prefer death than to be part of an evil government"
Mullah Omar

As one career public servant explained to me afterwards, “It’s not like we do not support the war in Afghanistan — it’s just that no one has explained what we’re doing there.“
"This is not just America's war; this is our fight, together"
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Dec 2 2009

“ Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs. ”

Barack Obama


War in Afghanistan: Part 2
War in Afghanistan: Part 3

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1 Comment:

Jeff Fefferson said...

There's a difference between what Alexander, the Moghuls, the British and the Soviets tried and what America and ISAF are doing now. They all tried to make Afghanistan part of their empire. We are trying to make Afghanistan a place where Afghans can live without fear.

I was in Ghanzi in 2005. I was standing in the street towards the end of the day with the incredible smells of cooking food, rotten garbage and sewage running over my boots when a man about my age approached me and said in the King's English "Thank you for coming to Afghanistan and making it a safe place for my grandchildren". When he heard that Americans had taken Khandahar, he put is rifle in the corner of his bedroom because he know he didn't have to fight anymore.

He said he had a PhD in Philosophy from Oxford at Cambridge and spoke well enough that I believed him. His village sent him to get educated because they couldn't afford to send everyone. He came home for college and watched the Soviets kill his best friend and from then on it was "Game on!" He the Soviets, the Communist government of Afghanistan, warlords and the Taliban. He was glad to see us.

When American forces went into Afghanistan, we made a 25 year commitment to them. It takes that long to effect change.

If you think they would be better off with out U.S. there, you maybe right. Consider this. The Taliban routinely execute people without due process. I saw the bodies. I visited a gravesite 40 kilometer west of Kabul where more than 400 women and children had been buried alive by the Taliban because they were unemployed. The beggar across the street from my house had both his eyes gouged out by those animals.

We don't do that.

95% of what we do is set the example thought proper behavior. It is making a difference.

Afghans are building there country as fast as they can afford to. Most houses had televisions and every Afghan man had a cellphone.

Are the Chinese smirking? No. The paranoid Mandarin/communist geriocracy that rules China is worried that America has access to the Southern China. We don't want to invade China. We want to tour the nation and be economic partners. The Chinese don;t understand that playing "The Great Game" is a losing proposition.

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Points to Ponder: Why Is China Unstable?

The aim of individuals in any society is money and power. Societies that give equal chance to all its members to get them will be the most stable. That is why democracies are more stable than other systems of governance.

China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

READ MORE: Tiananmen Square Massacre