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

Rolf Martens rolf.martens at mailbox.swipnet.se
Tue Oct 8 21:35:06 MDT 1996

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
Politbureau. 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
resistance against the aggression. (This organization was
supported by a quite large number of people in Sweden, including
many who considered themselves "left-wing". I joined it in the
early 1980:s.)

What's interesting, among other things, to note here are the terms
in which the Soviet social-imperialist chieftains themselves 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 themselves "Marxists",
which I'll quote in Chapter 3 should be compared to those
judgements on them which appear here, judgements already made
in advance, so to speak, by some of the very persons 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
disintegrated. 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
government, 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
complicated (...) 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 understood 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
1940:s and early 1950:s 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 insurrection-
ists have been joined by a large number of religious persons,
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 conversation
with Taraki. The anti-aircraft battallion 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 Politbureau
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 "impermis-
sible" 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 Afghanistan,
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 ant aggression. (...) Furthermore it must be
pointed out that the Afghans themselves 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
sending 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 patriachal tone, Brezhnev educated his
colleague and warned him on his purges. "Repression", Brezhnev
said, "is a sharp weapon which must be used very, very sparingly".

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 2000 km long borders
of Afghanistan to Pakistan and to Iran by means of a governmental

During Taraki's continued consultations with Kosygin, Gromyko,
Ustinov and Ponomarev, Ustinov was able to promise Soviet
shipment of 12 Mi-24-type helicopters. Citing the unreliability of
those Afghan helicopter pilots who had been trained in the Soviet
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 also
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 be.]

After their meeting with Taraki, [the Soviet revisionist chieftains]
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 "...it 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 decision only nine months later. And the "words of
warning" uttered by some of them at that session of course
were to be proven "wise" indeed; only, the various imperialists
did not always listen to such words yesterday and they will not
do so tomorrow either.]

[Continued in part 3/4]

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list