Iraq is not Afghanistan
The following article by Mike Evans is based on information from the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Final Move Beyond Iraq. Please forward this to everyone on your list, and ask them to do the same.
Iraq is not Afghanistan
By MICHAEL D. EVANS
When the Mujahideen of Afghanistan defeated the Red Army, they believed this caused the collapse of the entire Soviet Union. According to their thinking, the only “evil empire” left to collapse before the Islamist extremists take over the world is the United States. They think a defeat in Iraq will accomplish the same thing regarding the US as the Russians’ defeat in Afghanistan.
Granted, there are some easy comparisons. Due to the high cost and ultimate futility of the Afghan conflict for the former Cold War superpower, Russia’s war in Afghanistan has often been referred to as the Soviet Vietnam.
As in Vietnam, Soviet soldiers often found themselves fighting civilians due to the elusive tactics of the enemy. They also repeated one of America’s classic mistakes by winning almost all of the conventional battles, but failing to control the countryside. By 1982, the Mujahideen controlled 75% of Afghanistan despite the might of the world's second most powerful military power. By mid-1987 the Soviet Union announced it was withdrawing its forces.
The easy similarities end here. In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, foreign fighters recruited from the ranks of Islamic fanatics around the world rallied to the cause. The “volunteers” flocking to Iraq, however, are recruited, supplied, and sent by Iran in an effort to undermine the nascent Iraqi democracy.
Notable among the Afghanistan volunteers was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden, whose Arab group eventually evolved into al-Qaida. Bin Laden was so popular after the USSR defeat, it was said that if a democratic election had been held in Saudi Arabia, he would have been elected president. Many Saudis believed him to be a modern-day Salahadin, come to restore the dignity of Islam.
Another dissimilarity between the US in Iraq and the Soviets in Afghanistan is the scale of the conflicts in terms of the loss of life. In four years of combat in Iraq, some 3,500 American soldiers have died in combat. During about twice that amount of time, between December 1979 and February 1989, experts agree that at least 40,000-50,000 Soviets were killed in action, besides more than half a million wounded. The Black Tulip is what Soviet soldiers called the plane that carried their comrades’ bodies back to the Soviet Union, whose military censors gave the official losses of the Soviet armed forces as 14,453.
The Afghans, on the other hand, suffered about two million dead (mostly civilian), over five million displaced citizens, and such economic, political, and social devastation that the country’s continued survival is in doubt. For the Soviet Union, however, the war became the Kremlin’s national suicide.
The jihadists believe that a war-weary US leaving Iraq will be a victory for them, and they will have defeated the “Great Satan” the same way they defeated Russia. It would be a sign that the US is on the brink of collapse, as was the USSR.
How could a primitive country like Afghanistan cause the downfall of the then-superpower USSR? Ex-CIA Soviet Expert Anthony Arnold compares the Soviet Union with a sick old man and Afghanistan as the pebble on which this exhausted, ill man stumbled and fell. The United States might be weary of Iraq, but it’s no sick old man.
Soviet corruption is one of the fatal illnesses cited by Arnold, who noted that the price-tag for a medical exemption from Chernobyl nuclear cleaning duties in 1987 was 500 rubles – and 1,000 rubles to avoid military service in Afghanistan.
According to Arnold, the Soviet empire stood on three pillars: its military, the KGB, and the Communist Party. The Afghan War gnawed through these pillars till they could no longer bear the weight of the Soviet system.
None of the factors that exploded the myth of communism has any bearing on the reason a strong and democratic America is fighting for the survival of democracy in Iraq.