Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Carl Davidson

CP lies on Afghanistan exposed: Oh what a tangled web they weave

First Published: The Call, Vol. 9, No. 6, February 11, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan seems to have given the revisionist Communist Party, U.S.A., a terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease.

The symptoms are clearly evident in the Daily World’s amazing coverage of the Afghanistan situation over the past few .weeks. There have been so many turn-arounds, contradictions, distortions and lies in the articles of a number of Party spokesmen that the rank-and-file must be in despair, if they bother to read their press at all.

The Daily World editors have had big problems from the start. In the Dec. 28 issue, for instance, a page 2 headline reads: “Soviets call Afghan invasion a lie.” Apart from the fact that this statement is false, the story under the headline is about a labor struggle – in the U.S. Someone got mixed up.

The article that goes with that headline actually appears on page 5 of the same issue, but the title has been changed to “Soviets and Afghans targets of lies.” The article, by Tom Foley, still denounces the “false charges“ of Soviet intervention, though. It also speaks favorably of “President Hafizullah Amin, PDPA general secretary” and notes that his government has been “steadily consolidating the gains it has made since April 17, 1978.”

The next day, Dee, 29, Tom Foley has to eat his words. He reports that Karmal is now president and Amin, who he patted on the back the day before, was executed as a “CIA puppet.” The headline, by the way, is “New Afghan government formed” – which is certainly an interesting way of putting it. There is still no mention of the invasion, although at the end of the article he mentions that the Soviets have “met the request of the Afghan side” for “political, moral, economic aid, including military aid.”

By Jan. 2, however, Foley has to change his tune again. Now he says a “limited Soviet military contingent” has been sent to Afghanistan to “help protect borders.”

But now the Daily World’s editors really get into trouble. On Jan. 5 Conrad Komorowski writes a piece backtracking on the presence of Soviet troops. He states bluntly: “Neither the mythical ’invasion’ of Afghanistan nor a purported arrival of 30,000 Soviet combat troops ever occurred.”

While Komorowski is trying to convince us that the myth of Soviet troops is all done with CIA mirrors, CPUSA General Secretary Gus Hall takes a different approach. Five days later, on Jan. 10, he tries to reassure us with the following:

“Because the Soviet Union is a socialist country it is not out to conquer, dominate or exploit the resources or people of Afghanistan. Once the situation is stabilized and the people’s revolution is secured, the Soviet forces will be withdrawn.”

So take your pick. On the one hand, Soviet troops never went in; or, on the other hand, they are going to leave soon.

As for Hall’s reassurances, it reminds one of a recent joke: “What’s the largest country in the world?” one Soviet student asks another. “China? The Soviet Union?” the other replies. “No,” answers the first student. “It’s Czechoslovakia. Our troops have been coming home for ten years and haven’t reached its borders yet.”

The Daily World doesn’t stop here with its absurdities. While Foley assured us the Soviet troops had the sole job of protecting Afghan borders, the Jan. 24 issue has an article by Mike Myerson telling us that they are merely there “to protect government buildings.” This is curious, because the Jan. 11 issue has an article by Phillip Bonosky, written from the Afghan capital, Kabul, where there are undoubtedly many “government buildings,” and he says: “I have been in Kabul for 24 hours and have seen no Soviet soldiers, no antis, no tanks, no military hardware. The city is serene.”

Well, either it was done with mirrors or perhaps Bonosky spent his first 24 hours in Kabul locked in his hotel room with the shades drawn.

Myerson’s article gets into trouble on another point as well. He asserts that “there is no repression of religious belief or practice, or closing of shrines or places of worship in Afghanistan; there is in fact no religious, but an economic, basis for the counter-revolution.”

Perhaps Myerson didn’t read the Jan. 4 Daily World. It includes a Dec. 31 statement by the Karmal regime, explaining that if it had not come to power, “outrages upon the sacred Islamic religion and our national traditions would have continued in Afghanistan.” Of course, Karmal is trying to whitewash his own role and that of Taraki, Amin’s predecessor, but the suppression of religious people even under Taraki has been widely documented, including in a recent report from Amnesty International.

The Daily World apparently hoped it could solve some of its credibility problems by sending Bonosky to Kabul for eight days. His reports; however, have only compounded the problem.

“The objective historic truth,” says Bonosky in the Jan. 23 issue, “is that a genuine people’s revolution, supported now by the overwhelming majority of the people, took place here and is still taking place.” He adds that it was led by the PDPA, with Taraki and Karmal as leaders.

But this is neither objective, nor historical, nor true. April 1978 saw a pro-Soviet coup in Afghanistan, not a social revolution. As for the PDPA, it has been factionalized and split, and Amin was also among its leaders. And in this article, Bonosky targets Amin for “arbitrarily” implementing an “ultra-left policy” and doesn’t mention the CPUSA’s previous claim that he was a CIA agent.

This raises an interesting point. So far, the revisionists have justified the invasion by pointing out that it was in accord with the provisions of the Soviet-Afghan Treaty of “Friendship and Good Neighborliness” between the two governments. Ironically, this serves as a warning to any third world country as to the real nature of the Brezhnev doctrine of “limited sovereignty.” Such a treaty is like the kiss of death – sign it one day and the next day there has been a coup and your country has been occupied.

But now it seems the Brezhnev doctrine is being taken a step further. It’s not just a question of whether Soviets don’t like what your government is doing, but now if they think your party is making “ultra-’left’ errors,” watch out!

To get back to Bonosky’s report: His tactic is to blame everything on Amin, pointing out that he killed and jailed thousands of party and non-party people and sabotaged the broad base of support supposedly developed under Taraki.

But Bonosky gets the rug pulled out from under him in another article in the Jan. 29 issue by Foley. Quoting a Polish reporter in Kabul, Foley informs us that the rebel insurgency was not only a “result of Arnin’s repression,” but also “a result of certain earlier errors,” meaning Taraki’s repression.

The Polish report also quotes Karmal, stating: “For the first time in the history of our country, a broad national front is being formed.” If this is the case, then how was the “broad, national and democratic revolution” that supposedly took place in 1978 ever carried out?

It is, in fact, a backhanded admission by Karmal that the April 1978 “revolution” was neither democratic, nor national, nor popular. That is why the succession of pro-Soviet cliques can only be maintained by the Soviet army. And as for the revisionists quoting Karmal so favorably, they are in a shaky position. Given the past record, it wouldn’t be surprising if he, too, turns out to be an “ultra-’leftist’ ” or “CIA agent.”

Bonosky himself is somewhat shamefaced about this morass of contradictions. “Melodramatic as these events are, one should not get lost in them,” he writes at the end of his article. “The essence of the struggle here must be grasped and one should not let himself get snagged on some of its forms or secondary considerations.”

The “essence of the struggle,” of course, is this: Whenever Soviet social-imperialism launches a war of aggression, throw principle, caution, truth and the interests of the world’s peoples to the wind. Instead, rally around the Kremlin.

Readers of the Daily World, however, can draw another old-fashioned lesson from the revisionist reportage on Afghanistan: “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”