Afghanistan: A Failure in Detente?
Touma, Leslie A.
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An investigation of the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is important because of its effect on U.S. foreign policy, and impact on the future direction of U.S.-Soviet relations. Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan aroused fears among U.S. foreign policy makers about Soviet motivations. Declarations from the Carter administration and actions taken to respond to the Soviet invasion seemed to suggest that the U.S. and Soviet Union were reverting to a Cold War posture. For this reason a comparison of Soviet consolidation of control over Eastern Europe, during which the foundations of the Cold War were laid, following World War II, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, is particularly relevant. The placement of a pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan is reminiscent of Soviet consolidation of hegemony is Eastern Europe following World War II. Both instances involved Soviet military intervention and Soviet establishment of control over border states. Because of this similar set of circumstances, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan provides an opportunity to examine changes and continuity in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War period. This paper attempts to answer the following questions. Have U.S. perceptions of Soviet ambitions remained the same? Has the U.S. response to Soviet actions changed? The structure of the paper is designed to compare U.S. perceptions and responses to Soviet behavior in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, and analyze historical continuity in U.S. foreign policy. First the period of Soviet involvement in Eastern Europe, and the foundations of the Cold War are examined. The underlying assumptions of U.S. foreign policy established in this period are described. In the 1970's, the Nixon-Kissinger administration introduced the element of detente in U.S. foreign policy. The strengths and weaknesses of detente from the U.S. standpoint are examined, as well as its effect on U.S.-Soviet relations. Then the political events in Afghanistan leading up to and including the Soviet invasion are detailed. Finally, U.S. perceptions and responses to Soviet behavior in Afghanistan are described. This format provides the basis for analyzing continuity in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War. This paper is not a critique of U.S. foreign policy, nor is it an attempt to criticize U.S. foreign policy makers. The bulk of my research consists of information prepared by the Congressional Research Service for governmental officials, and speeches and documents of U.S. foreign policy makers. The scope of this paper is restricted to the U.S. foreign policy making elite, because the intent of this project is to expose U.S. governmental perceptions and reactions to Soviet involvement in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. This information is then used to analyze changed and continuity in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War.