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The Consequences of the Soviet-Afghan War
Essay: The Consequences of the Soviet-Afghan War.
“What did the Afghan war give us? Thousands of mothers who lost their
sons, thousands of cripples, and thousands of torn-up lives” (qtd. in
The Soviet Union had its own reasons for helping Afghanistan. Their
intention was to make Afghanistan the first Muslim state to become part of
the Soviet Union. By doing so, they would show the world the power of the
In 1979, more than 50,000 soldiers from fifteen Republics of the
Military service was mandatory. The boys, who averaged 18 or 19 years
of age, had no choice but to serve for 2 to 3 years. Recruits for
Did the Soviet government think about the ruined lives of the Afghan veterans? No. Instead it blamed them for the failure of policies that were not their fault.
Coming back to normal life was very difficult for the Afghan
veterans. After they came home they started organizing the sort of
communities they’d become accustomed to during their long stay in
One of the veterans said, “We never came home. Our minds were always
at war.” (qtd. in Galeotti 45). But the soldiers did come home, and all
soldiers came back differently. Some of them were on crutches, some had no
hands or legs, some had prematurely gray hair, and many of them returned in
zinc coffins. Many soldiers, who were injured during the war, were never
able to find a job, because of their physical condition. Thus they had to
rely entirely on relatives for the rest of their lives. These people hated
the government for not assisting them financially, because when they needed
help, the same government that had sent them to war turned away from them.
While many veterans were physically injured, others suffered from
complicated psychological disorders such as flashbacks, emotional numbness,
withdrawal, jumpy hyper-alertness or over-compensatory extroversion.
So how can a person who brutally killed a ten-year-old boy lead a normal life after coming back home? Killing children, knowing that anytime a bullet can hit you, knowing that no place is safe, can drive any sane person insane. What could this have done to an 18-year-old boy, who was drafted into war right after graduating from high school, who had never seen any hardship in life?
In normal society the killing of another person is punished, sometimes by the death penalty. But during the Afghan war, Soviet soldiers received the power of life and death over others. The tendency of treating people however they wished became common among Soviet soldiers. This triggered the official imprisonment of 2,540 Soviet soldiers by the Soviet government, for atrocities against Afghan civilians. (Galeotti 81).
This created another problem when they returned home. They were unable
to overcome the feeling that they had the authority to treat people however
they wished. Some veterans, unable to square the demands of war with the
demands of conscience, were locked behind the bars of mental hospitals.
Another consequence of the Afghan war was drug addiction and excess
consumption of alcohol. Because combat in any area wasn’t safe, the
soldiers had to be always on high alert. In order to relax, many relied on
drugs. Afghanistan was the major supplier of poppy to the world during
those times. Drugs became part of the Soviet soldier's lives. Many felt
that drugs were essential for survival. Drugs helped a soldier to carry 90
pounds of ammunition up and down the mountains. It helped them to overcome
the depression resulting from their friend’s deaths, and to overcome their
own fear of death. Drugs and alcohol became the usual procedure of self-
medication, because other options were unavailable. One veteran said “There
wasn’t a single person among us who didn’t do drugs in Afghanistan. You
needed relaxation, or you went out of your mind.” (Galeotti 51). This
created a generation of drug addicts and alcoholics. According to the
Today we have witnessed the gravest consequence of the Soviet-Afghan war. It created the monster the world called the Taliban. This harsh fundamental ruling body came to power in the vacuum that came about after the Soviets pulled out and returned home. The Afghan government was weak and lacked national power. It soon collapsed giving rise to the Taliban, who turned Afghanistan into world's terrorist center.
Even today, the Afghans and Soviets still suffer the results of the war. Clearly there were no winners. Perhaps today that has changed, because the Afghan people, the Soviets, and the US this time are all on the same side. Perhaps this time all will be winners, and only Bin Laden and the Taliban will be the losers.