A quarter century ago, on 15 February, 1989, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was completed. It was started on 15 May, 1988, in accordance with the Geneva agreement on the settlement of the political situation around Afghanistan.
Now, after a lapse of many years, it is obvious that the introduction of a limited contingent of Soviet troops in Afghanistan on 25 December 1979, the decision of which was made in private by the most influential members of the Politburo, headed by the General Secretary of the CPSU CC, L. I. Brezhnev was a mistake albeit explainable by a complicated international situation of those years.
After a decade, the new Soviet leadership acknowledged this mistake by signing the Geneva agreement. However, unfortunately, only one item of these agreements was fulfilled providing for the Soviet troops withdrawal. Whereas the rest of the items - implementation of the national reconciliation program, cessation of neighboring countries interference in the internal affairs of the DRA, including support for the armed opposition – were never fulfilled. And first of all because the United States and Pakistan blocked all the ways to settlement continuing to Supply weapons to the mujahideen and encourage their desire to overthrow the functioning Najibullah’s government in Kabul. Washington needed only the withdrawal of Soviet troops, after which the overseas strategists saw themselves masters of the situation.
It is well known what dire consequences this ‘cunning’ American politics had for Afghanistan. The Soviet Union, executing the Geneva Agreements, stopped supplying arms to the Najibullah’s government, while the opposition continued to receive it from Pakistan. Left without a weapon, the Kabul government which had controlled most of the country, fell, Najibullah was brutally murdered, and rabid extremists - the Taliban came to power. Afghanistan has become a hotbed of terrorism, the main base of al-Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden. And it all resulted in a failure for Americans themselves – 11 September, 2001 by an air attack on skyscrapers in New York, a crash of twin towers with numerous victims shocked not only America, but the whole world. Of course, Washington could not but react: consequence of the terrorist attacks was the introduction of U.S. troops and their NATO allies in Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Taliban’s power and the continued for more than 12 years stay of foreign forces in the country, as a matter of fact, an occupation that had not decided any of the serious Afghan problems.
In Afghanistan, that according to President Hamid Karzai, remains the world’s most backward country, many compare the consequences of the Soviet and American troops military presence. And this comparison is by no means in favor of overseas newcomers. After having experienced Yankees, the Afghans think of Shuravi, i.e. of ‘Russians’, more warmly.
It is easy to understand this change in sentiments. In the 80s the USSR did much to help Afghanistan out of the age-old backwardness. Yes, there was a military operation, but at the same time Soviet teachers, doctors, engineers, specialists in other fields were sent to the country to help Afghans to improve health, education, culture. This humanitarian program involved for the most part envoys of the Soviet republics - Azerbaijan and Central Asia (their religious community with Afghanistan was taken into account).
Boys and girls from Afghanistan then studied in Soviet institutes of higher education, obtained professions very needed for the country. And today, more than 500 primary and secondary Afghan schools do not work because of the inability to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and students, more than a third of children do not have access to knowledge at all.
The Soviet economic assistance provided to Afghanistan for 10 years of stay in the country amounted more than $35 billion, including $15 billion on a grant basis. And the United States for 12 years sent to Afghanistan only about $10 billion. And Afghans complain at that: “We do not see this money, do not know where they it is going to, while we have seen the Soviet one.” The point is that most of Western subsidies come in the country through non-governmental organizations that spend the bulk of sums for themselves.
Within the framework of international aid the Soviet Union built roads, schools, industrial facilities in Afghanistan, and helped to develop gas and coal deposits. Modernization of industrial, transport and energy infrastructure in Afghanistan is associated with the years of Soviet presence. On the contrary, the time of America’s presence is a period of de-industrialization, archaization of social relations, as well as construction of the world’s largest ‘heroin mono-economy’.
The U.S., unlike the USSR, practically, doesn’t fight against drug dealing and trafficking, which exacerbates the already difficult situation in Afghanistan. Specifically, Washington has more than once rejected the Russian proposal to completely destroy opium poppy crops by spraying from air special defoliants, and the idea to implement in the country's agriculture a substitution of drug cultures by other profitable crops, for example, cotton. But Americans are obviously simply not interested in this.
Yes, everything is comparative. That is why ordinary Afghans say now: “Under Najibullah and the Soviets life was good, people did not die of hunger, it was warm in houses.” They also emphasize other: “Americans treat us superciliously, as hosts, whereas Russian friendly communicated with us.” It is not by accident that the noted Afghan journalist and analyst Qasim Ahgar, who fought in the ranks of the Mujahideens against the Soviet Army, comparing those days with the current, positively speaks of the Soviet presence. “I like a man who took part in the anti-Soviet resistance, recognize that in those times people lived better,” he testifies publicly.
Having learned American ways of Afghanistan’s communion with Western values, the country's leadership too has changed its attitude towards Russia. “Russians understand Afghans much better than Americans,” Hamid Karzai recognized. In the Afghan society, there is growing request for restoration of the Russian presence (economic and geopolitical) as a positive factor contributing to the normalization of the situation not only in this country but throughout the Central Asian region. “We are interested in a versatile assistance from Russia, in the trade exchange, investment, business cooperation,” says Karzai.
Russia that has written off Afghanistan’s debts amounting to $16 billion is ready to provide comprehensive assistance to Kabul - in the fight against drug production and drug trafficking, the supply of energy resources, the construction of large industrial facilities, educational institutions. But in order to ensure that this assistance is effective, it is necessary to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.
So far, it does not inspire optimism. Moscow believes that for the life normalization in this country it is above all necessary to approve its status of a neutral state. And this, of course, is due to the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country - the United States and NATO have several times postponed it and now seem to be planning to implement it in 2014. The U.S. presence plays no positive role, rather the opposite.