US Has Now Occupied Afghanistan For Just as Long as Soviets
Nine years, 50 days. We've now been stationed in Afghanistan for just as long as the Soviets in the '70s and '80s. But where Russia eventually recognized the futility of the situation, the US is fresh off an injection of 30,000 troops and a projected withdrawal date of 2018.
Nader Nadery, an Afghan analyst who has studied the Soviet and U.S. invasions, said "the time may be the same" for the two conflicts, "but conditions are not similar."
More than a million civilians died as Soviet forces propping up the government of Babrak Karmal waged a massive war against anti-communist mujahedeen forces.
"There was indiscriminate mass bombardment of villages for the eviction of mujahedeen," Nadery said. "Civilian casualties are not at all comparable."
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank and Afghanistan expert, said NATO forces have killed fewer than 10,000 civilians and a comparable number of insurgents.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon released a report in which Gen. David Petraeus described the goal for Afghanistan is to ensure it "is never again a sanctuary to al-Qaida or other transnational extremists that it was prior to 9/11." To do so, the military must "help Afghanistan develop the ability to secure and govern itself. Now not to the levels of Switzerland in 10 years or less, but to a level that is good enough for Afghanistan."
So what do the Russians get on this shared anniversary? A NATO request to help combat the insurgency. Um, classy timing.