The U.S. did its best to make the Soviet Union miserable in Afghanistan, and then it made the same mistake as the Soviet Union, fighting a twenty-year war contrasted to the Soviet’s war that lasted half as long. From Srdja Trifkovic at chroniclesmagazine.org:
The latest episode in an ironic reversal of the roles of the foreign powers that have tried their luck in Afghanistan is unfolding before our eyes. Britain’s profitless involvement (1839-1919) is ancient history, but more recently the Soviet intervention (1979-1989) and America’s subsequent “longest war” (2001-2021) have both ended in strategic failures.
Because the United States failed to know its enemy, it appears to have cleared the ground for China’s grand entry into the geopolitical game in Central Asia. That entry may well be successful, in the medium term at least, because it will not be accompanied by Beijing’s attempts to establish an ideologically friendly government in Kabul, or to conduct experiments in social engineering in the tribal lands, as the U.S. has a history of doing.
Back in the early 1980s, following the deployment of the Soviet army in an operation which completely lacked strategic clarity, the nascent Islamic resistance movement was used by the Carter Administration as a tool of undermining Moscow’s credibility and getting it bogged down in an unwinnable war. In a memorable 1998 interview with France’s news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski described how he advised President Carter in the summer of 1979 to draw the Soviets into military intervention.
“That secret operation was an excellent idea,” Brzezinski said. “It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap…. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”
Asked if he regretted having armed future terrorists, Brzezinski was adamant: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” He further rejected the notion that Islamic fundamentalism was a global menace as “nonsense.”