Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

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U.S. War in Vietnam V.S Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

“Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed”, were words once professed by Mao Zedong in the late 20th century. Throughout history, politics have played a very important role in how wars are fought. Most notably, many can remember the stark similarities between the war in Vietnam and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The real parallels between the two include, support of a local client which never really rallied to defend itself, diminishing support at home for an unpopular war and a lack of clear national interest all contributed to these superpowers defeat.

To Begin, both superpowers share the crown of inheriting a demoralized/ill equipped national army. When the Soviets intervened originally in 1979 they may have intended their occupation to provide internal security in the cities while the Army of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), the national military, handled counterinsurgency. But the DRA forces, while they improved over time with Soviet training, were never sufficient to defeat the American backed insurgency in tactics or manpower. In addition, current estimates state close to 20,000 DRA forces deserted their army in favor of the rebels. In contrast, American generals faced a similar situation in Vietnam. In 1965 when the American involvement was increasing exponential rate, American generals decided to let the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) take a larger role in the defense of their country. While the ARVN did play a crucial role in various battles, many agree that they were more of a burden than they were a fighting force. Various reports tell of ARVN troops defecting over to the Communist side when pressed in the heat of battle.

In addition, both the U.S. and Soviets were not only fighting on the battlefield, but they faced a bigger dilemma at home. Draft beer, not people was a saying that originated in the turbulent times that followed the conscription of thousands of young American males to fight the “Unjust war in Vietnam”. Unfortunately, hundreds of body bags piled American transport planes like sardines in a tin can. The bloodshed that ensued outraged many Americans leading to a strong opposition of the involvement in Vietnam. Many can remember the Kent State Massacre, in which 7 students were killed when National Guard units fired on their ensuing protest. Who can forget the now famous Walter Cronkite speech explaining why the war could not be won. General Westmoreland is quoted as saying “If we have lost Cronkite, We’ve lost the American people”. The Soviets also experienced this social outcry to their war. At the eve of Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the rotting effects of absolute centralism and autocratic power on the national psychology [Stalinistic, philosophy] had resulted in corruption, non discipline, irresponsibility, and, distrust of the government. Some sources focus on public opinion and the eventual escalation of protests during and then after the war, starting with underground papers and protest demonstrations at soldier's funerals and grave sites. Although any protest was being immediately and severely put down (for the very act of opposition against the political establishment was regarded as high treason) no force could control the popular discontent of the Soviets, thus, protests were becoming more frequent and better populated.

Finally, both sides lost national interest in continuing to fund their war efforts. Economically speaking, the cost of the Soviet invasion, according to various Soviets figured out to cost about $8.2 billion per year. As for casualties, it too is an arguable topic, due to the strict censorship of the Soviet Union. The official 15,000 dead is a gross underestimation. Experts agree that at least 40,000 - 50,000 Soviets lost their lives in action, besides the wounded, suicides, and murders. The ultimate political cost, however, was at least the breakup of the surface glaze which had hidden much of the internal decay for decades. Almost 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1973, the United States spent $120 billion on the war. This resulted in a large federal budget deficit. The conflicts demonstrated that no power, not even a superpower, has unlimited strength and resources. But perhaps most significantly, these conflicts illustrated that political will, as much as material might, is a decisive factor in the outcome of conflicts.

These conflicts are similarly clear examples of what happens when a proxy war is fought for an ideology .Ironically, both nations’ real opponents supplied the opposing side in each war as the US equipped the Taliban and Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets and the Soviets equipped the Viet Cong to fight in Vietnam. Both proxy wars failed due to demoralized soldiers, unrest at home and the financial strain the wars caused. One must consider, if we don’t learn from our history will we be doomed to repeat it?

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sounds great. My only advice would be not to end with a rhetorical question and especially not one that contains "we" (it's a form of third person). Trust me, I use to grade essays on the SATs, that sort of thing is frowned on. Other than that though (and that's minor) great essay :)

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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