The following article by Norman Markowitz appeared in Political Affairs last spring. It is worth a read in light of the latest word on a troop surge in Afghanistan as it debunks much of what we hear about the USSR's intentions and failings in Afghanistan.
The Obama administration, as it seeks to withdraw from Iraq, finds itself in a far more difficult and complicated situation in Afghanistan. In February, the National Security Archive, a Washington-based institute that uncovers classified documents from the Cold War era, released a collection of fascinating documents from Soviet sources in the Gorbachev era. These primary source documents concern the Gorbachev leadership’s attempts to extricate the USSR from its years-long military intervention in Afghanistan. From these documents, we might glean some important historical lessons about military intervention in Central Asia and look for alternatives to the Obama administration's plan to increase troop numbers there.
While I do not share the sympathetic portrayal of the “reformers” in the Gorbachev leadership of the USSR put forward by the analysts at the National Security Archive, particularly Gorbachev’s naïve, or worse, effort to cooperate with the Reagan administration and the Pakistani dictatorship, the documents could be a valuable source of information on the region for the Obama administration, as it seeks to learn from the past in order not to repeat the errors of the past.
Read more here.