UNITE! Info #19en: 2/4 Social-imperialism's Afghan war
[Posted: 09.10.96]

[Continued from part 1/4]


After the breaking up of the Soviet Union in 1991, many earlier
confidential Soviet documents were made public, among them some
protocols of discussions in the Soviet revisionist party's Po-
litbureau. Here I shall quote from some extracts from one such
protocol, that of a session lasting three days in March 1979. My
source is the issue No. 4/1994 of the Swedish-languague magazine
Afghanistan-Nytt, organ of the Swedish Afghanistan Committee, a
solidarity organization for supporting the Afghan people's re-
sistance against the aggression. (This organization was suppor-
ted by a quite large number of people in Sweden, including many
who considered themselves "left-wing". I joined it in the early

What's interesting, among other things, to note here are the
terms in which the Soviet social-imperialist chieftains them-
selves are describing that possible action in Afghanistan which
they were later in fact to undertake. Again, those descriptions
of events in that country in 1979-1989, by people calling them-
selves "Marxists", which I'll quote in Chapter 3 should be com-
pared to those judgements on them which appear here, judgements
already made in advance, so to speak, by some of the very per-
sons responsible.

I reproduce in translation from an article in Afghanistan-Nytt
No. 4/94 by Stefan Lindgren, who reports on the Soviet protocol
[comments within square brackets are by me]:


In March 1979, almost nine months before the Soviet invasion,
considerable disturbances took place in the third-largest city
of Afghanistan. On 17 March, the Soviet Politbureau convened for
a three days long meeting. During the first two days, Brezhnev
was not present.

"The situation in Afghanistan has seriously deteriorated. The
centre of disturbances is now the city of Herat....As is known
from earlier telegrams, the 17th Afghan division is stationed
there. It restored order but now seems in practice to have dis-
integrated. The artillery regiment and one infantry regiment
which were part of that division have gone over to the side of
the insurrectionists."

According to Gromyko, the uprising was caused by thousands of
revolters from Pakistan and Iran who with US help had caused
chaos in Herat. Over 1000 people had died in Herat, he reported.

The situation had not been adequatly met by the Afghan govern-
ment, Gromyko held, and he continued:

"As a characteristical thing may be noted that at 11 o'clock
this morning, I had a conversation with AMIN, who is foreign
minister and the deputy of TARAKI, and he expressed no anxiety
whatsoever concerning the situation in Afghanistan but spoke
with Olympic calm about the situation's not being all that comp-
licated (...) Amin even said that the situation in Afghanistan
is normal. He said that not one single case of insubordination
on the part of the Govenors had been registered. (...)"

"Within about half an hour we got a another message, which said
that our comrades, the military Chief Adviser comrade Gorelov
and the Charge' d'Affaires comrade Alekseyev had invited comrade
Taraki to visit them (...) As far as military assistance was
concerned, Taraki said in passing that perhaps help will be
needed both on the ground and in the air. This must be under-
stood to mean that we are requested to send ground forces as
well as aircraft."

"I hold that we must proceed from the most important fact when
helping Afghanistan, and this is, under no circumstances must
we lose that country."

[A statement which of course was just as candid as, and similar
to, for instance the discussion by the US imperialists in the
late 1940s and early 1950s on how it came to be that "we" had
"lost" China, about "who was responsible for that", etc etc.]

Several other speakers expressed their distrust of the Afghan
government and its heavy-handed purges of rivalling Communist
[as those people of course would call them] factions.

Even at this point in time, there within the Politbureau were
put forward various proposals on armed intervention and even on
a complete invasion.

Defence minister USTINOV briefly reported:
"Tomorrow, 18 March, operative groups will be sent to Herat's

He at the same time presented two possible lines of action. In
the one case, smaller forces would be sent. In the other, the
Soviet Union would dispatch two divisions, or about 36,000 men.

The proposals were met with some objections.

"The question arises, against whom our Army will wage war if we
send them there. Against the insurrectionists, but the insurrec-
tionists have been joined by a large number of religious per-
sons, Moslems and among them a large number of the common
people. In this way  we will be forced to a considerable degree
to wage war against the people."

The following day, KOSYGIN reported on his telephone conversa-
tion with Taraki. The anti-aircraft batallion in Herat had also
gone over to the enemy. "If the Soviet Union does not help us
now", Taraki had said, "we will not be able to stay in power."

This was understood by both Kosygin and Ustinov as a request
for direct military assistance. But still, individual Politbu-
reau members raised serious objections to an invasion.

"We know Lenin's teachings about the revolutionary situation.
What such situation might there be in Afghanistan? There isn't
such a situation there at all. We can only help the revolution"
[the counter-revolutionary Soviet revisionist leaders of course
used such upside-down terms when speaking among themselves, too]
"in Afghanistan by means of our bayonets, and this is absolutely
impermissible for us.  We cannot take such a risk."

[Like the "traditional" imperialists, the Soviet revisionists
would mix "moral" statements with candid ones. Here of course
"impermissible" was the hypocritically "moral" and "it's too
risky" the candid.]

"I wholly support comrade Andropov on our having to exclude such
a measure as sending troops into Afghanistan. The Army is not
reliable there. In this case our Army, if we send it into Af-
ghanistan, will be an aggressor. (...) We must consider the fact
that neither can we justify juridically the sending in of
troops. (...) Afghanistan is not subjected to any aggression.
(...) Furthermore it must be pointed out that the Afghans them-
selves have not officially made a request to us concerning the
sending of troops."

The discussions went back and forth and a decision seems to have
been reached only on the third day of the Politbureau session,
when BREZHNEV was present and unequivocally made clear that sen-
ding in Soviet troops could not be the right thing to do at this

The session was ended by a decision immediately to call Taraki
to Moscow. This meeting did take place on the following day, 20
March. In a rather patriarchal tone, Brezhnev educated his col-
league and warned him on his purges. "Repression", Brezhnev
said, "is a sharp weapon which must be used very, very sparing-

As the same time, Brezhnev repudiated the idea of dispatching
Soviet troops.

"I'm saying it quite plainly: This is not necessary. It would
only play into the enemy's hand."

He also asked Taraki why he had not "had the borders closed", as
if it would be possible to close the over 2,000 km long borders
of Afghanistan to Pakistan and to Iran by means of a governmen-
tal decree.

During Taraki's continued consultations with Kosygin, Gromyko,
Ustinov and Ponomarev, Ustinov was able to promise Soviet ship-
ment of 12 Mi-24-type helicopters. Citing the unreliability of
those Afghan helicopter pilots who had been trained in the So-
viet Union ("Moslem brothers" or "pro-Chinese") [Who indeed
*could* those "great" Afghan "Communists" trust, among "their
own" people?], Taraki asked for the assistance of pilots and al-
so tank crews from Cuba [! - note the method here!], Vietnam [!]
or other socialist [well now....] countries.

This proposal was bluntly turned down by KOSYGIN:
"I cannot understand why this question arises...The question of
sending people who would climb into your tanks and shoot on your
people. This is a very serious political question."

[Even one of the leading Soviet revisionists himself was shocked
by the vile proposals of those people, or at least pretended to

After their meeting with Taraki, [the Soviet revisionist chief-
tains] Gromyko, Andropov, Ustinov and Ponomarev worked out a
proposal for a decision by the Politbureau, in which the Afghan
leadership were criticized for their suggestion of introducing
Soviet troops into the country. This line was an expression of
"lack of experience" and " has to be held back also in the
case of new anti-government actions in Afghanistan".

[So far Stefan Lindgren's report on the Soviet revisionists'
Politbureau session of 17-19 March 1979. - As is known, those
people who held that meeting were to make quite a different de-
cision only nine months later. And the "words of warning" ut-
tered by some of them at that session of course were to be pro-
ven "wise" indeed; only, the various imperialists did not always
listen to such words yesterday and they will not do so tomorrow

[Continued in part 3/4]

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