Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

Afghanistan Signals World: Moscow Says, “We Want It All”

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. IX, No. 2, February 4, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Moscow’s 80,000-troop invasion of the Texas-sized, strategically placed country of Afghanistan has accelerated a shift of world forces that is leading to a third world war.

The Soviet troops, airlifted and transported into the mountainous country of 20 million people, were dispatched in a matter of days along with hundreds of tanks and stores of helicopter gunships, napalm and other materiel to maintain faltering Soviet domination of the country.

Afghanistan has long borders with both Iran and Pakistan. By moving freely to its southern portion, Soviet power now stands only a few hundred miles of jet aircraft flying distance from the Persian Gulf, the waterway through which most of Europe’s and Japan’s oil supply makes its way in supertankers.


A long, simmering and increasingly successful revolt by ill-equipped tribesmen and other Afghanistan people brought Moscow to its moment of decision in the closing days of 1979.

Soviet client head of state Hafizullah Amin died in a coup engineered by the already numerous Soviet advisers in the capital and by paratroopers dropped in for the kill. Soviet news agency Tass then announced that troops had been sent at the request of the government whose overthrow Moscow had just carried out!

Radio stations within the Soviet Union broadcast the first “message from Kabul” by Amin’s replacement, Babrak Karmal. An embarrassing propaganda turnaround occurred within hours as Soviet praise for Amin reversed to denunciation of his policies and charges that he was an agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Soviet imperialism has now sent troops outside the Eastern bloc that is attached to Moscow for the first time since World War Two. Following upon the Kremlin’s sponsorship of Cuban intervention in Angola and Ethiopia and its support of Vietnamese aggression into Kampuchea (Cambodia) and Laos, the action has startled observers all over the world into recognition of the size of the Soviet appetite.

Imperialist powers fight to divide the world, each one seeking to maximize its empire and minimize its rivals’ area of domination. The trend of the last five years points to increasing Soviet empire and declining U.S. imperialist power.

As a fresh imperialist force, the Soviet rulers ignite the anger of the people in countries where they rob raw materials and foodstuffs, set up repressive client regimes and crush the independent economy.

In Afghanistan, where Karmal succeeds Soviet agents Amin and Taraki, rebellion against such oppression had spread to 24 of the country’s 28 provinces. The taking of over 15,000 political prisoners; the napalm raids on innocent villages; the brutality and looting by Amin’s underlings–these were the fuses of revolt. Branded in the Western press and phony radical publications like the Guardian as Moslem reactionary religious groups, the rebels are simply the people of Afghanistan itself. They cannot decide their own future and develop their internal evolution (and class struggle) so long as the Soviet Union exports its social-fascism to their land.

The regime’s inevitable failure to live up to high promises appeared when an amnesty Kabral announced for over 10,000 political prisoners turned out to be the release of less than 10% that number. On January 11 hundreds of angry relatives stormed Policharki prison when a mere 126 prisoners walked out to freedom. Guards fired on the crowd and killed at least two.


Because people around the world can see the Soviet willingness to bring such events to a previously nonaligned country, a new awareness of Soviet aggression and its drive to a third world war has appeared. Combined with Moscow’s encirclement of the oil-rich and strategically sensitive Persian Gulf, the direct use of troops against a whole people has lent credence to those voices–notably those of China and other adherents of the Three Worlds Theory–that have warned of the Soviet danger. The principal contradiction in the world has the Soviet imperialists at one end and the rest of the world at the other end.

The new consciousness was registered in the U.N. vote of fully 104 nations to 18 condemning the Soviet action. In the aftermath, Cuba lost its election bid to take a Security Council seat.

On the other hand, some surprising indicators of the extent of present Soviet influence were registered. Argentina declined to join a grain embargo against the Soviet Union. For many years Soviet trade with the country in grain, oils, meat, hides and wool has grown. Today Moscow is Argentina’s largest customer for these items–apparently now to the point where it outweighs the total of U.S. economic clout.

So far the U.S. government response to the Afghanistan thunderbolt has been largely symbolic or ineffective. Ambassadors were recalled then sent back; the already dubious SALT Two treaty put on the shelf; and small amounts of aid offered to Pakistan. No longer the world’s policeman, the U.S. imperialists announced a grain embargo before they had lined up other potential suppliers on the team. A drama that leans toward farce is being played on a pocket stage over the site of the 1980 summer Olympic games.


The United States multinational corporations are at best half-enemies of Soviet imperialism. As another group of exploiters their opposition to Moscow has its limits. Particularly is this true when U.S. businessmen smell profits in trade with the Soviets. The army trucks in Afghanistan were made at the Kama River factories financed and designed with U.S. aid.

The United States working class will find itself faced with the need to show the way in opposing Soviet imperialism and social-fascism. It will have to stay the profiteering hand of U.S. imperialism and take the lead in building a movement around war policy and tactics. It is not a pleasant prospect, as the Afghanistan herdsman behind an old machine gun already knows. But working-class attention to world war and then action on it are necessary to prevent even worse disasters that would follow if the two superpowers are left to trample on the world.

Temporarily, the Soviet military blitzkrieg will drive the Afghanistan opposition to mountain strongholds. But prospects for Moscow’s ability to tame the country and gain freedom of action are small. Besides the guerrilla resistance in the countryside, urban discontent has already been reported. An AP report from Kabul, the capital, says that two days after the Soviet coup, city residents attacked four Russians in a bazaar; the four died of their injuries. Two Russians were left lying on the ground for 40 minutes after a stabbing. Guerrillas killed six Soviet civilians sitting in a car outside the Soviet embassy.

A just cause cannot be annihilated; aggression is doomed to failure.