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One Thing Russia Is Better at Than the US: Getting Out of Afghanistan

When it comes to getting out of Afghanistan it's 1:0 for the Russians


This month marks 30 years since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Soviets moved in in late 1979 against a Communist government for being too Stalinist for Moscow's liking. Shooting the Stalinists took a matter of days. Building a pro-Moscow government able to take their place and keep it seemed to take forever.

Even so after 9 years and 3 months (and 15,000 dead) the Soviets did finally decide enough was enough and to cut their losses. Here is how it looked:

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That said albeit the country the Soviets left continued to be engulfed in a civil war, the pro-Soviet government in Kabul proved quite resilient and capable of surviving it. It only folded because the US, Pakistan and the Saudis continued to pour in arms and money to the Islamist opposition, while Washington got Yeltsin to end all Russian aid for the socialist side. This made it an uneven fight and gave the upper hand to the insurgents. Even so the government the Soviet army left in place in Afghanistan actually outlasted the Soviet Union itself by about a year.

So far the Americans have been in Afghanistan twice as many years as the Soviets spent there.


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