The Afghanistan Analogy

What the Soviets faced in Afghanistan, the US is now tackling in Iraq. Patrick Shea explains:

The Mujahideen used many of the same methods we see in Iraq today: roadside IEDs targeting convoys, bombing of Soviet sponsored government buildings, assassinations of officials and influential tribal chiefs, tactics designed to target and inflame the civilian population, and the destruction of essential infrastructure. Tribal and Islamic passions were a deliberate focus of their efforts.

The comparison with the Red Army's preparation for war is even more striking. They attacked without sufficient intelligence, planning, and with too few troops to get the job done. They lacked understanding of the culture. They were unprepared and untrained to wage counter-insurgency operations. Their armored vehicles were vulnerable to unsophisticated attacks. The army was comprised largely of reservists. Most importantly, generals showed a dramatic inability to adjust to the situation on the ground, in large part due to indecision and stubbornness in Moscow.

Like the US in Iraq, the Soviets won every major engagement of the war by a decisive margin. Nonetheless, their successes evaporated quickly.

The notion that acknowledging this reality is somehow defeatist or merely politically opportunistic is, I fear, the same pattern of denial that has gotten us this far.