Good Reads: Protests in Syria, Soviets in Kabul, US-Pakistan breakup
Al Jazeera spends seven weeks with both sides of the protests in Syria; the Guardian's reporter unpacks a 1981 trip to Afghanistan, and Pakistanis are losing that loving feeling with the US.
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The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele has recently written a book of his own reporting experiences from the early days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and he helpfully destroys a few myths we may have about wars in Afghanistan. In an excerpt of his book, reprinted today, he describes an explosion that may have been a suicide bomb, as early as 1981.Skip to next paragraph
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Perhaps the biggest myth of the Afghan war is that the Afghan mujahideen had defeated the Soviet Army and forced them to retreat, Mr. Steele writes.
The reality is the Afghan mujahideen did not defeat the Soviets on the battlefield. They won some important encounters, notably in the Panjshir valley, but lost others. In sum, neither side defeated the other. The Soviets could have remained in Afghanistan for several more years but they decided to leave when Gorbachev calculated that the war had become a stalemate and was no longer worth the high price in men, money and international prestige.
As the Monitor reported this week, angry comments from Adm. Mike Mullen, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have gathered force, and a growing number of US politicians are calling for confrontation with its main frontline ally in the war on terror: Pakistan. But The Washington Post’s Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung say that even senior officials in the Obama administration and in the US diplomatic corps believe that Mullen’s statements went too far.
“The Pakistani government has been dealing with Haqqani for a long time and still sees strategic value in guiding Haqqani and using them for their purposes,” the Pentagon official said. But “it’s not in their interest to inflame us in a way that an attack on a [US] compound would do.”
Also in The Washington Post, Karen Bruillard writes that it’s the Pakistanis themselves who are on the front lines of the war against groups like the Haqqani network, and many Pakistanis blame the US for the violence occurring inside their borders.