During the Cold War, the United States resolved to take a shot at the Soviet Union by siding with Afghanistan and taking great measures to stop Soviet influence and communist ideology. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to expand its influence in the Middle East with the absence of American influence. At this point in the Cold War the United States and Soviet Union were more or less at the climax of their dilemma, so the U. S. therefore decided to get involved by fortifying Afghan’s primary rebellious group, the mujahidin.
The United States jeopardized homeland security by providing significant support to mujahidin revolutionaries, and in doing so the U. S. helped them hinder Soviet rule over Afghanistan. There are plenty of reasons ratifying America’s lack of foresight and prudence, one being that the state of the Soviet Union was not great as it was. One should take into consideration that the Soviet Union was already in a drastic decline when the United States began to intercede in Soviet-Afghan affairs.
Benjamin Frankel, an esteemed writer who wrote an article for History in Dispute, described how there was a prolonged controversy in the Soviet Union on the topic of how to proceed with communist policies (14). Secondly, America already expressed its hard-line policy toward the USSR in a more detrimental way. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan established the Strategic Defense Initiative to protect the U. S. from potential ballistic missile attacks by the Soviet Union. In total, as the ABC-Clio database prescribes in paragraph ten of “Cold War, 1945-1991”, the USSR spent approximately $80 billion on the Soviet-Afghan War.
The fall of the USSR was hastened by its lofty spending on the unnecessary cause. Similar to the economic problems in the Soviet Union, the United States’ actions concerning Soviet-Afghan affairs inflicted great burdens upon the U. S. economy. The United States wasted a substantial amount of money in order to aid mujahidin rebels so they could counteract their Soviet oppressors, but received no compensation in return. As an unknown author from Mount Holyoke College estimates in “Origins of the Taliban”, the United States lost about $3 billion just on funding these covert ops.
The mujahidin and Afghanistan as a whole provided little in return. The mujahidin, for one, only used America for what it provided and discarded the country once transactions were complete. Also, Afghanistan contained insufficient natural resources compared to its Middle-Eastern counterparts. In addition to this action’s negative impact on the U. S. economy, it was also unjustified by the United States’ failure in persuading Afghans to convert to its political viewpoints. The United States did not spread democracy or even impede the Soviet Union’s communist influence on Afghanistan.
Instead of acting how it did, the United States should have allowed Afghanistan to develope itself and figure out its own problems to an extent. One sign of progression in the country occurred in the mid-2000s when Afghanistan held its first presidential election. For example, Canada has benefitted by having the foreign policy of isolationism. Shifting back to the mujahidin, Benjamin Frankel describes it, stating, “Once they helped to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, they turned their attention to the hated ‘infidel’ West and its ‘satanic’ leader, the United States” (16).
Benjamin Frankel went on to speak of how the Afghans were apathetic toward the message of democracy, while they already disdained the ideology of communism (16). These reasons explain why the two parties never became allies and split ways once the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Sometime in the midst of the United States attempting to spread democracy in Afghanistan, the Jimmy Carter regime passed an embargo on wheat and corn against Russia as another attempt to burden the Soviet Union.
The Russian Grain Embargo, enacted in 1980, had a negative financial impact on American farmers. This act was drawn up to reciprocate the past ongoing tensions between the United States and Soviet Union which heightened when the United States began to help the mujahidin in 1979. On the subject of U. S. and USSR trade, representative George McGovern stated at a 1980 Senate hearing in paragraph ten on the Annals of American History database that agricultural produce took up 75% of their trade.
With this lack of trade, the USSR and U. S. each deeply suffered. As a result of the Russian Grain Embargo, prices on a bushel of wheat dropped 50? and prices for a bushel of corn dropped 30?. As McGovern later proclaims to the senate in his speech in paragraph nineteen, projected numbers “do not take into consideration the tremendous increase in cost of production for crop year 1980 for farmers, coupled by depressed markets. ” This act, indirectly associated with rising tensions also causing the U. S. to fortify the mujahidin, made live very hard for farmers.
The Russian Grain Embargo left a great mark on agrarian society in both the United States and the Soviet Union, but moreso in the U. S. This statement demonstrates the irony behind the embargo. The harm done to the USSR was substantial, though. One may say that the Russian Grain Embargo went with the hard-line policy Reagan put forth toward the USSR, but this argument is invalidated by the financial burdens on America and the Soviet Union. Subsequently in his speech, George McGovern states in paragraph twenty, “The U. S. omestic blow to the agricultural community can reasonably be concluded to be greater than the one we are delivering, at least in the long run and at least in economic terms. ”
Plus, Russia was coming off a record low year for crop production, further supporting this act’s injustification. Despite the fact that the Russian Embargo Act was mainly a burden to farm society, it also proved or will have proven to be a burden to other important parts of society. The Russian Grain Embargo also devastated both the United States and the Soviet Union in ways other than agriculturally including everyday citizens.
In paragraph eighteen McGovern alludes to his great statistical knowledge, noting that American taxpayers compensated for the debt of the Russian Grain Embargo by paying a sum of $3. 8-5 million. The credibility of the United States as a reliable trade partner skyrocketed due to the embargo. The administration of former President Jimmy Carter probably did not foresee this outcome or even think about it. Another outcome of the act was expanded herd slaughter in Russia. Russians thus consumed bad or in some cases unsanitary meat because of the lack of U. S. meat shipments.
Instead of wasting our time creating unnecessary policies or embargoes or groundlessly creating a powerful Afghan resilient force, the Unites States should have seized other important opportunities. For example, during the period in which the United States sent weapons to the mujahidin, Afghanistan’s neighboring country Pakistan developed a nuclear-weapon program. This is ironic because limiting nuclear-weaponry in any place was apparently supposed to be a chief concern of America, yet we did nothing about it.
Pakistan could have shared nuclear secrets with its ally neighbors, thus jeopardizing American security. Benjamin Frankel wrote about the possibility that Pakistan could eventually use their nuclear weapons. In that case, America would certainly regret not committing itself to the issue. Before acting, we have to first ponder all implications – the pros and cons. Either the various leaders of the United States from 1979 to 1989 did not do this or they misevaluated. When a country is already on an nevitable path to its downfall, spending a large amount of money to try to hasten it is unnecessary. Blocking trade to that country is inessential and dumb if all parties involved are negatively affected like in the case of the Russian Grain Embargo. In the end, the Unites States and Soviet Union were burdened by their shortsighted approaches; ergo, we should learn from their mistakes and attempt to fix any remaining consequences. Unfortunately, we may one day have to endure the repercussions of not taking action if a Middle Eastern country sets off a nuclear bomb.
Courtney from Study Moose
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