Despite the threat of growing communism, should the United States have intervened in the Afghanistan War?

Mar 2019
6
Florida, US
#1
It's a tough question. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and meant to spread communist ideals, but the United States stirred up a rebellion by spending an estimate of 4.8 trillion in providing automated weapons and assistance to Afghan fighters. With this insane number in mind, I have trouble being convinced that American involvement in the Afghanistan War was really worth it.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,559
SoCal
#2
That ultimately depends on the question of whether or not the Afghan War was crucial for the collapse of the Soviet Union. If Yes, then US intervention in this war was worth it IMHO; else, it wasn't.
 
Jul 2016
8,410
USA
#3
4.8 trillion what? Zimbabwean dollar? Certainly not US Dollar. The cost never rose more than a couple billion USD for the entire war. And yes, since it helped collapse the Soviet Union, it was worth it. Some of the best money the US ever spent.
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2019
6
Florida, US
#4
4.8 trillion what? Zimbabwean dollar? Certainly not US Dollar. The cost never rose more than a couple billion USD for the entire war. And yes, since it helped collapse the Soviet Union, it was worth it. Some of the best money the US ever spent.
Despite being a draining challenge on Soviet resources, the Cold War didn't end until 20 years after, and even with all the money supplied by the United States, the Afghan war continued. By shipping masses of weapons and materials over to Afghan rebels, the United States had little control over how those weapons were used or even how they could control their own aid. Pakistan had that control. When we chose to withdraw from the conflict of Afghanistan, abandoning many relations within that significant conflict, the real problem of the modern age began with how Afghanistan was choosing to carry out violence bu our own aid.
 
Jul 2016
8,410
USA
#5
Despite being a draining challenge on Soviet resources, the Cold War didn't end until 20 years after, and even with all the money supplied by the United States, the Afghan war continued. By shipping masses of weapons and materials over to Afghan rebels, the United States had little control over how those weapons were used or even how they could control their own aid. Pakistan had that control. When we chose to withdraw from the conflict of Afghanistan, abandoning many relations within that significant conflict, the real problem of the modern age began with how Afghanistan was choosing to carry out violence bu our own aid.
The Cold War ended in 1991, the Soviet Afghan War ended in 1989, that is two years later not twenty.

The US didn't' start an insurgency, it was already ongoing before the US really got involved. And the US was far from the only country supporting the Mujahideen, for instance, and you should recognize this, as much money as the US paid to help support the Muj, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ALONE matched it dollar for dollar. That doesn't even count other nations, all the other Gulf States, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, etc, which was most of them since most Muslim nations contributed heavily to the Muj. Nor does that even touch the probably tens of billions that was funneled through zakat charities paid for by a significant portion of the global Muslim population at that time.
 
Likes: Futurist
Apr 2018
329
India
#6
First of all communism in Afghanistan wasn't actually communism in any sense. It was pure fascism painted red. They once professed that they would be able to change the society so radically that within three years nobody would even think of attending mosques. And the only way they tried to achieve this was by means of pure oppresion. Breznev administration warned against such callous behaviour multiple times but apparently the Afghan leaders were too enamoured by the examples of Mao and Lenin to listen to reason. When the rebellions got of hand and the ANA proved to be completely useless, only then the Russians intervened under the pretext of Hafizullah Amin's perceived treachery. Also note that the Russians actually saw a communist Afghanistan as a counterweight against Islamist Iran, a common enemy of both the US and the USSR.

Yes Afghanistan was a bottomless pit for Soviet resources and that slugfest played a role in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. But from western strategic point of view that was the only positive outcome of US assistance. If we look at the multitude of problems it created, it was either not worth it or was not enough. US aid wasn't enough for Mujh to prevail against the Taliban. This in the long run cost the US God knows how many times more in terms of both money and material. Secondly a potential pressure to Khomeini's Iran was gone and the current moderate Iran would take two more decades to come.

To summarise, it was a good strategic decision from US point of view but the implementation was too Soviet-centric and not at all Afghan-centric to be called a success.
 
Sep 2012
3,677
Bulgaria
#7
4.8 trillion what? Zimbabwean dollar? Certainly not US Dollar. The cost never rose more than a couple billion USD for the entire war. And yes, since it helped collapse the Soviet Union, it was worth it. Some of the best money the US ever spent.
Soviets spent rubles of coarse. Measured in $ according to CIA collection of reports 'The Cost of Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan' what it would have cost U.S.A. to operate and maintain the same force there the estimation is ~50 billion dollars (~February, 1987) for the seven years of the war and it is around 75% of what U.S.A. spent in Vietnam for year 1968.

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/doc_0000499320.pdf

EDIT: 4.8 trillion number is too much. Billions?
 
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Jul 2016
8,410
USA
#8
Soviets spent rubles of coarse. Measured in $ according to CIA collection of reports 'The Cost of Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan' what it would have cost U.S.A. to operate and maintain the same force there the estimation is ~50 billion dollars (~February, 1987) for the seven years of the war and it is around 75% of what U.S.A. spent in Vietnam for year 1968.

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/doc_0000499320.pdf

EDIT: 4.8 trillion number is too much. Billions?
The OP asked if the UNITED STATES CONTRIBUTION was too costly. It wasn't. It was a few billions USD, not 4.8 trillion. It would make no sense to refer to Soviet currency, because the US does not use Soviet currency. Nor would the US need to maintain the same force as the Soviet 40th Army because we're not the ones who invaded it.

Soviets spend a lot of money and lives and political capital invading and trying to occupy Afghanistan. US spends a small amount to ensure they fail. The Soviets fail. The losses in Afghanistan, and the poor situation, paired with glasnost, meant the Afghan War helped fuel animosity to the Soviet communist govt by its people, who finally revolted, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Money. Well. Spent.
 
Sep 2012
3,677
Bulgaria
#9
The OP asked if the UNITED STATES CONTRIBUTION was too costly. It wasn't. It was a few billions USD, not 4.8 trillion. It would make no sense to refer to Soviet currency, because the US does not use Soviet currency. Nor would the US need to maintain the same force as the Soviet 40th Army because we're not the ones who invaded it.

Soviets spend a lot of money and lives and political capital invading and trying to occupy Afghanistan. US spends a small amount to ensure they fail. The Soviets fail. The losses in Afghanistan, and the poor situation, paired with glasnost, meant the Afghan War helped fuel animosity to the Soviet communist govt by its people, who finally revolted, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Money. Well. Spent.
The estimated amount of $ spent by the USSR at the prices of 1987 - 50 billion dollars - for this war mentioned in my previous post is for comparison and to show that it doesnt make sense the soviet cold war enemy to spent 100 times much more than the Reds in this war. CIA reports also explains how they spent only 50 million $, relatively small amount of money for this ~7 years war. For the sum U.S.A. paid i am in agreement with you, idd a few billion $ well spent.
 
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Apr 2018
329
India
#10
The estimated amount of $ spent by the USSR at the prices of 1987 - 50 billion dollars - for this war mentioned in my previous post is for comparison and to show that it doesnt make sense the soviet cold war enemy to spent 100 times much more than the Reds in this war. CIA reports also explains how they spent only 50 million $, relatively small amount of money for this ~7 years war. For the the sum U.S.A. paid i am in agreement with you, idd a few billion $ money well spent.
Spending a bit more ensure the Taliban lose the civil war would have saved a lot of money afterwards.