Afgantsy - The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89 by Rodric Braithwaite

By Rodric Braithwaite

In a well timed and eye-opening booklet Rodric Braithwaite examines the Russian adventure in that the majority contemporary warfare in Afghanistan (after Alexander's conquests and the numerous British imperial wars and skirmishes). mostly basing his account on Russian resources and interviews he indicates the conflict in the course of the eyes of the Russians themselves - politicians, officials, infantrymen, advisers, journalist, ladies. As former ambassador to Moscow, Rodric Braithwaite brings exact insights to the Soviet conflict in Afghanistan. the tale has been distorted not just by way of chilly conflict propaganda but in addition by way of the myths of the 19th century nice video game. It strikes from the excessive politics of the Kremlin to the lonely Russian conscripts in remoted mountain outposts. The parallels with Afghanistan at the present time communicate for themselves. 'A remarkable success of narrative historical past, delicate writing and fascinating clean research': so wrote Simon Sebag Montefiore approximately Rodric Braithwaite's bestseller Moscow 1941. yet these phrases, etc of compliment that got it, might both follow to his new publication.

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This was the longest period of stability in Afghanistan’s recent history, and people now look back on it as a golden age. Reform continued. A parliament was elected in 1949, and a more independent press began to attack the ruling oligarchy and the conservative religious leaders. In 1953 Zahir Shah appointed his cousin Daud (1909–78) as prime minister. Daud was a political conservative but an economic and social reformer. For the next ten years he exercised a commanding influence on the King. He built factories, irrigation systems, aerodromes and roads with assistance from the USSR, the USA, and the German Federal Republic.

Imperial Britain Moves North The British, deploying the same arguments as the Russians, and using the same tactics of armed force, diplomacy, guile, bribery, deceit, and treachery, were meanwhile continuing their advance towards the north. They too wished to promote their trade and the security of their imperial frontiers. They too concluded that mere diplomacy was insufficient, and they too swept aside the obstacles to their forward march with considerable violence. By the early nineteenth century they were on their way to taking over the whole of northern India, and they had reached the border with Afghanistan.

His methods worked. He set up the rudiments of a modern state bureaucracy, modernised and financed his army with the help of the British, and struck a skilful balance between them and the Russians. Abdur Rahman’s successors attempted to push Afghanistan further along the path of modernisation. His son Habibullah (1872–1919) was assassinated in 1919 and succeeded by Amanullah (1892–1960), who took advantage of British weakness at the end of the Great War to invade India. The British bombed Kabul and Jalalabad and drove the invaders back.

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