HI 200: Our Contemporary World.
“US foreign policy and Afghanistan: History, context and Carter,” in Jacqueline Fitzgibbon, US Politics, Propaganda and the Afghan Mujahedeen: Domestic Politics and the Afghan War (I.B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2020)
In 1979, the Soviets invade Afghanistan
In 1979, in neighboring Iran, an Islamic revolution overthrows the pro-Western (pro-American) government led by the Shah (Iranian or farsi word for king). For the author, it was the fundamental catalyst for our involvement in Afghan affairs, which has lasted until the present day.
President Carter responds to invasion through the “Carter Doctrine”, which resulted in the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Questions: (Please note the page numbers in each question where the answers can be found except question #4).
On page 13-14. What was America’s view of the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan in 1979, and how does the author compare the Carter and Reagan administration’s policy on Afghanistan?
On p. 14. The 1978 Saur revolution was led by Afghanistan’s small communist party. Although the Soviets supported this communist party, they did not want the party to be too dominant because Afghanistan’s population as a whole were not really ready for an all-powerful communist regime.
(Please try to find on p. 14, the sentences or section where this information about popular resistance to communism inside Afghanistan can be validated).
Question: On pp. 14-15: Soviets feared this popular anti-communist (anti-Taraki) uprising. What did they claim was behind it, and what international situation made the Soviets fear the possible loss of influence in Afghanistan?
Question p. 15. Taraki was succeeded by his subordinate, named Amin, who was even more radically Communist. In what way was Amin the reason behind the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?
What is the Carter Doctrine of 1980?
On p.15, Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the US was never interested in Afghanistan. We were more interested in Iran and Pakistan during the Cold War.
Question: In the first lines of p.16, the author outlines our Cold War entanglement in South Asia (India, Pakistan). Can you explain in your own words, how our interest in this region of South Asia then led to our support of the Afghan mujahedeen (precursor to the Taliban)? Write a few lines here:
(Zbigniew) Brzezinski (pronounced bray-Jín-ski) was the “hawkish” (meaning: aggressive and favoring open conflict) National Security Advisor to President Carter. On pages 16-18: Why did Brzezinksi think it was important for us to get involved in Afghanistan? What was his strategy toward the mujahedeen?
*Some facts to consider: At first, Carter saw Afghanistan and Soviet relations as a regional issue. It was Brzezinski who convinced Carter to see the situation as a Cold War contest, whereby Soviet influence should be deterred from spreading to Iran and to the Gulf states (oil producing countries along the Persian Coast)
On p. 19: Sometimes, our domestic affairs and political situation can have a huge impact on our foreign policy. According to the author, what was the domestic political situation (Democrats vs. Republicans) in the United States during the Carter era, that led us to engage more aggressively in Afghanistan?
On pp. 26-27: Brzezinski and Carter framed the invasion of Afghanistan as a Soviet Cold War ploy to expand influence over Central Asia. Meanwhile, the Carter administration feared that, although largely Muslim, Afghanistan’s Islamists might fall under Soviet influence. To thwart (= counteract) Soviet ambitions in Afghanistan, Carter and Brzezinski devised a strategy in relation to Islamists in Afghanistan. Question: What was this strategy?
HI 200: Our Contemporary World.