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Encore Presentation: Soldiers of God

Aired January 1, 2002 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: While U.S. pledging to help rebuild Afghanistan, the chances of post-war stability appear to be much stronger than the last time America was involved in an Afghan conflict. In the late '80s, hard-line Islamic warriors, with the aid of the United States, defeated the Soviets after a bloody 10-year war.

But once America's Cold War nemesis was expelled from Afghanistan, the U.S. picked up and went home, a decision that would come back to haunt America. The roots of terror in Afghanistan now as CNN PRESENTS "Soldiers of God," from CNN's acclaimed "Cold War" series.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENNETH BRANAGH, NARRATOR (voice-over): Afghanistan: a war which cost the lives of nearly 15,000 young Soviet conscripts and an estimated one million Afghans.

ANATOLY CHERNIAYEV, AIDE TO MIKHAIL GORBACHEV (through translator): It was the Soviet Union's "Vietnam syndrome," so to speak. It was impossible for a great superpower to run away from this wild country.

BRANAGH: The United States supplied billions of dollars of weapons to unlikely allies -- Islamic fundamentalists.

FRANK ANDERSON, CIA DIRECTOR, AFGHAN TASK FORCE: It is entirely true that this was a war that was fought with our gold but with their blood.

BRANAGH: The Panjshir Valley in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan -- a rural, traditionally Islamic country of 15 million people.

Foreign nations had tried to conquer it for centuries. None succeeded. But civil war and years of Cold War conflict would bring the people of Afghanistan a terrible toll of death and destruction.

In the 1970s Afghanistan became a focus for superpower rivalry. Close to the Persian Gulf's oil and the Indian Ocean ports, it bordered Iran in the west and Pakistan in the south and east. In the north, it shared a border with the Muslims of the Soviet Union's Central Asian republics. To Moscow, a friendly Afghanistan was vital.

Kabul, Afghanistan, April 1978.

A military coup brings a left-wing regime to power. Soviet cameras portray it as a romantic popular revolution. Crowds were organized to celebrate the change of power.

Nur Mohammed Taraki, Afghanistan's new leader, looked to the Soviet Union for support. Moscow sent hundreds of Soviet advisers to advance socialism.

ABDUL RASHID JALILI, AFGHAN MINISTER OF EDUCATION (through translator): The vast majority of Afghan people had no jobs. Afghanistan was an agricultural country. We thought it was best to introduce land reforms and give land to the landless. It would enable them to work their own land and raise their standard of living.

BRANAGH: The left-wing regime set about reforming Afghanistan by decree. Land was taken from large owners and handed to the peasants who worked it.

Women were encouraged to stop wearing veils and were put into literacy classes alongside men.

In the countryside the reforms were seen to threaten ancient customs and the authority of the Islamic priests, the mullahs.

SAHAR GUL, MULLAH LAGHMAN PROVINCE (through translator): The Communists were trying to change the law of God. They wanted to destroy Islamic traditions -- to rid Afghanistan of poverty and make everyone equal. This is against the law of Islam -- God has decided who is rich and who is poor. It can't be changed by Communists. It's beyond imagination.

BRANAGH: To counter Communists' efforts to spread their new doctrine, opponents of the reforms burnt down schools and universities. Thousands of Afghans fled to Pakistan to avoid the revolutionary turmoil. Resistance was growing throughout the country.

GEN. VLADIMIR KRUICHKOV, DEPUTY HEAD OF KGB (through translator): Brezhnev and the Politburo tried to talk sense into Kabul. We couldn't understand how they could build socialism in just five years. We said, "You can't do that. We've been building socialism for sixty years and we're still not finished." But they thought it was us that had got it wrong. Naivete was coming out of their every orifice. It was in their every word.

BRANAGH: In neighboring Iran, crowds joined the call of the Afghan resistance for a jihad, or holy war, against the godless Communists. Other Islamic countries took up the cry.

In Washington, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was convinced the left-wing regime in Afghanistan was a major threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (on telephone): Yes. And that will deal first with Iran, then with Afghanistan and the regional implications.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH: Brzezinski told President Carter that Moscow might use the Afghan crisis to move south and seize the oil of the Persian Gulf.

Brzezinski's fears for the stability of the region gained weight when mass demonstrations in Tehran led to the overthrow of the shah of Iran.

The shah's fall lost America its most important ally in the region.

BRZEZINSKI: We were faced with the possibility that one way or another, before too long, we may have either a hostile Iran on the northern shore of the Persian Gulf facing us, or we might even have the Soviets there.

BRANAGH: The Islamic groups fighting the Communists received covert American aid for the first time in July 1979. President Carter began by sending communications equipment.

The rebels called themselves the Mujahedin -- the Soldiers of God. They were mostly peasants, organized by village mullahs and landowners. Many of their weapons were captured from the Communist regime.

From the refugee camps in Pakistan, recruits for the jihad walked for days across the mountains to reach the fighting.

Ranged against the Mujahedin was a mechanized, Soviet-trained Afghan army.

Soviet film depicted a highly motivated fighting force.

In fact, each month, thousands of soldiers deserted. Kabul pleaded with Moscow to send Soviet troops.

In the Kremlin Soviet leaders repeatedly met to discuss the Afghan crisis. After mobs massacred Soviet advisers and their families in Herat, Kabul's request for Soviet troops moved up the agenda.

VASILY SAFRONCHUK, SOVIET FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The Afghans wanted us to introduce a limited contingent of Soviet troops to guard military bases. They just couldn't cope with the Mujahedin themselves. At first they spoke about a battalion, then about a brigade. They kept insisting and pushing for Soviet troops but we kept refusing and refusing and refusing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRANAGH (voice-over): President Taraki had an apparently devoted prime minister, Hafizullah Amin.

Amin was the regime's strongman. In spite of the unrest he was determined to drive on with the reforms.

Amin launched a campaign of terror. He had opponents arrested and shot.

SAFRONCHUK (through translator): I said to Amin that his policies were too harsh -- that they were turning the Muslim population against him. Like the land reforms which did not take into account Afghan traditions. But he used to reply, "Did Stalin make the revolution in white gloves?"

BRANAGH: Afghan President Taraki flew to Moscow to discuss with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev how to curb Amin's excesses.

They decided to oust him, hoping the Kabul government could get popular support by slowing the reforms and ending the terror.

Moscow's secret plans leaked out. When President Taraki returned to Kabul, Amin had him seized and executed.

Amin realized the Soviets wanted him out. He began to seek better ties with the West. The KGB even imagined Amin might be a CIA agent.

GEN. VALENTIN VARENNIKOV, COMMANDER SOVIET FORCES, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): Andropov, the head of the KGB, became very concerned about Amin flirting with the Americans. Andropov felt that if we didn't introduce Soviet troops, Amin would claim that Moscow hadn't fulfilled its obligations. He would then turn to the Americans for help and they would put their own troops in.

BRANAGH: In Moscow the arguments were mounting in favor of using an invasion to remove Amin. In the past, Soviet military action to topple troublesome foreign leaders had worked in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

In Europe the nuclear arms race was gathering speed. NATO wanted to counter the Soviet Union's mobile missiles. On December 12, 1979 the West announced it would deploy hundreds of cruise missiles in response.

Moscow now felt it had little to lose internationally by intervening in Afghanistan with troops. That evening the Politburo held an emergency meeting.

SAFRONCHUK (through translator): Our major concern was the security of the southern borders of the Soviet Union. We also feared the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into Afghanistan from Iran.

KAREN BRUTENTS, INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT, COMMUNIST PARTY (through translator): I said that military intervention in Afghanistan would be very difficult for our army. It would not necessarily lead to success. One only has to consider the conditions in Afghanistan, its geography, its history and especially the independent nature of the Afghans.

KRUICHKOV (through translator): We also felt that if we didn't go into Afghanistan then some other countries would. The intervention of these states could destabilize the situation on the Soviet-Afghan border and in the region as a whole.

BRANAGH: The Politburo took its fateful decision.

By December 25, 1979, tens of thousands of men in tanks and trucks started to trundle across the border. Moscow hoped they could complete their mission within weeks. The old royal palace on the edge of Kabul was Prime Minister Amin's favorite residence. KGB special forces stormed the building. Amin tried to hide, but they shot him dead. Moscow replaced Amin with a more manageable leader, Babrak Karmal.

Since the Cold War started, the Soviet Union had never invaded a country beyond the borders of the Warsaw Pact. Now Soviet forces were stepping across the line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 23, 1980)

JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The implications of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could pose a more serious threat to the peace since the Second World War. The vast majority of nations on Earth have condemned this latest Soviet attempt to extend its colonial domination of others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT CARTER: I had to put restraints on the Soviet Union. One of them was to issue a public statement that if the Soviets did invade either Pakistan or Iran -- or -- or -- or Iran out of Afghanistan, that I would consider this a personal threat to -- to the security of the United States of America and I would take whatever action I desired or considered appropriate to respond, and I let it be known that this would not exclude a nuclear reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED U.N. REPRESENTATIVE: The military intervention of the Soviet Union can not be justified. There can be no question of any country other than the Soviet Union having interfered in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH (voice-over): At the United Nations, the Soviet invasion was widely condemned. President Carter blocked grain deliveries to the Soviet Union, launched a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow, and stepped up U.S. spending on arms.

Detente was over.

U.S. National Security Adviser Brzezinski flew to Pakistan to set about rallying resistance. He wanted to arm the Mujahedin without revealing America's role. On the Afghan border near the Khyber Pass, he urged the Soldiers of God to redouble their efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRZEZINSKI: We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You will go back to it one day, because your fight will prevail and you'll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRZEZINSKI: The purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRZEZINSKI: Do we know whether any Soviet units have reached these border posts?

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: No, sir. No.

BRZEZINSKI: They're holding back?

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: They are holding back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRZEZINSKI: We started providing weapons to the Mujahedin, from various sources again -- some -- for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak Communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujahedin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.

BRANAGH: Brzezinski sought the help of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's military ruler. Pakistan always had a keen interest in Afghanistan. Pakistan wanted a friendly and strongly Islamic neighbor.

The U.S. Congress had earlier cut U.S. military aid to Pakistan. Gen. Zia had a bad human rights record. He was developing a nuclear bomb. He had failed to curb drugs trading. Now, the Americans set aside their displeasure.

CHARLES DUNBAR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I think we had a double standard with respect to the Pakistanis. And we knew that there were big problems with drugs, and that there were big problems with nukes and we were prepared in various ways, in any way that we had to, to turn Nelson's eye to those problems as long as the Afghan resistance was being supported via the government of Pakistan -- and that's what we did.

BRANAGH: In Afghanistan the Red Army guarded cities, roads and airports, leaving the Afghan army free for combat. By 1980 almost 100,000 Soviet troops would be deployed around the country. It was a civil war, but many of the Soviet conscripts were told they were coming to Afghanistan to confront Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED SOVIET SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): After we took our first Afghan prisoners, we started to realize that the Americans were not there. We said, Americans? What Americans? They are not here. But, the KGB officers said, "Oh, they're in the rear. They are advising the Mujahedin, just like we advised in Cuba. Maybe they are teaching them how to fight." But the more operations we carried out, the more we realized that the Americans were not there.

BRANAGH: Against their wishes, the Soviets were soon sucked into combat. They started with textbook sweep offensives devised to defeat NATO in Europe and Chinese troops on the plains of Manchuria. In mountainous terrain against guerrilla fighters their approach was a disaster.

ARTYOM BOROVIK, SOVIET JOURNALIST: Well, I would say 99 percent of all the battles that we fought in Afghanistan were won by the Soviet side. But the problem is that the next morning we had the same old situation as if there was no battle: Mujahedin were again in that village where they were -- we thought we'd destroyed them just the other day. So it was an absolutely useless war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear...

UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER: ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States ...

PRESIDENT REAGAN: ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH (voice-over): A fervent anti-communist, Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election with an image of forceful leadership and a promise to rebuild U.S. military might.

To many Americans, Carter's foreign policy had seemed weak. Reagan stepped up aid to the Afghan rebels.

The Mujahedin were made up of numerous factions. They were split on tribal and ethnic lines.

When the Mujahedin weren't fighting the Soviets, they sometimes fought each other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MUJAHEDIN SOLDIER (through translator): Move your fat ass and shoot the (expletive deleted) rocket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH: The Mujahedin often captured military equipment in working order but were so disorganized that within hours it would be made useless by looting.

ANDERSON: I made the comment that "gratitude" in the Afghan dictionary is gonna be found somewhere after "gimme" and "gotcha." On the other hand, there was a constant undercurrent of understanding that while we were providing the means to wage this war, they were waging it and that it is entirely true that this was a war that was fought with our gold but with their blood.

BRANAGH: The Reagan administration increased its covert military supplies to the Mujahedin. Money and arms were channeled through camps in Pakistan.

By controlling the way aid was distributed the Pakistanis hoped to install a fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan. They favored the extremist, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

ELIE KRAKOWSKI, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: The Pakistanis -- they needed to have people that they could manipulate. It is for that reason that American aid, whatever it was, and in the early period it was minimal, later it became more significant, was essentially directed by the Pakistanis to Gulbuddin at the expense of other groups.

AHMED SHAH MASSOUD, MUJAHEDIN LEADER (through translator): The arms were not distributed fairly. Despite our military successes, Pakistan only gave us eight missiles. For two years they cut all aid to my group. The Pakistanis had their own agenda. They gave the lion's share of weapons to the hard-liner Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

BRANAGH: Inside Afghanistan the ferocity of the civil war increased. After heavy casualties, the Red Army changed tactics. They abandoned massive armored sweeps and took to the air. Soviet commandos would be dropped in by helicopters to cut the Mujahedin's escape routes.

While more weapons poured into Afghanistan, the United Nations sought a diplomatic solution. Under-Secretary Diego Cordovez tried to broker a deal for the Soviet Union to withdraw if military aid to the Mujahedin was stopped. His shuttle diplomacy made little headway with Afghan President Babrak Karmal.

Moscow -- November 1982: After 18 years in power Brezhnev is dead.

The state funeral was used for a new Afghan initiative. After the ceremony, Yuri Andropov, the new Soviet president, told Pakistan's foreign minister that he might accept the United Nations plan. But the Americans didn't trust Andropov.

CHARLES COGAN, CIA HEAD OF COVERT OPS, NEAR EAST: We never considered that the Soviets would actually back out of Afghanistan and negotiate their way out. It didn't seem -- it didn't seem a credible thing for them to do, because we didn't think that they were at all disposed to do that. So naturally when we talked with the Pakistanis, we pressed them always to continue the pressure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT REAGAN: The Bible tells us there will be a time for peace, but so far this century mankind has failed to find it. In these times ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH: The United States and Pakistan were not ready for a deal with Moscow. For Washington the U.N.'s peace plan was a sideshow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT REAGAN: The peace-loving nations of the world must condemn aggression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH: Throughout Afghanistan, Soviet aircraft were now bombing indiscriminately.

They pummeled village after village into oblivion.

In a typical attack on April 8, 1985, the villages of Kats and Mindrawar on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway were bombed, then overrun by Soviet troops.

BIBI SARDARA, VILLAGER, LAGHMAN PROVINCE (through translator): The Soviets destroyed the whole village. It's impossible to count how many they killed. The men were dragged out of their houses and sent off to the Afghan army. Those who refused were taken aside and gunned down -- butchered.

MOHAMMAD HANIF, VILLAGER, LAGHMAN PROVINCE (through translator): The Russians took 14 of us and made us stand in a line near this wall. Two Russian soldiers stood in front of us with machine guns. We began reciting the Holy Kalima from the Holy Koran, because we knew we were about to die. They machine-gunned every one of us. I fell. There was a pile of bodies, all on top of me. The bullets missed me. The soldiers searched us and took our money. They moved me but I just pretended to be dead.

MAJNOON, VILLAGER, LAGHMAN PROVINCE (through translator): The rockets were falling all around us like leaves off a tree. My daughter's head was smashed open. Her brains were hanging from a branch. I lost everything -- my cousins, my nephews -- everybody was killed -- my wife, my four children.

UNIDENTIFIED SOVIET SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): There was no such thing as a "peaceful population" -- they were all guerrilla fighters. I remember how we once rounded up all the women and children, poured kerosene over them and set fire to them. Yes, it was cruel. Yes, we did it, but those kids were torturing our wounded soldiers with knives.

UNIDENTIFIED SOVIET SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): When you kill, you don't feel calm -- you just feel indifferent. You're paranoid -- you lose your morality. You become very cold- blooded. Your soul grows cold because you're confronted with something you don't like doing.

UNIDENTIFIED SOVIET SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): A young soldier might kill just to test his gun, or if he's curious to see what the inside of a human being looks like, or what's inside a smashed head. But there is also the fact that if you don't kill, you'll get killed. It's a feeling of being drunk on blood. Often you kill out of boredom or because you just feel like doing it -- it's like hunting rabbits.

GULAB SHAH, VILLAGER, LAGHMAN PROVINCE (through translator): We have cried so much that we can no longer cry. Even if we do cry who will wipe away our tears? So you see there's nobody to turn to anyway. We can only pray to God to take our revenge for us because we are helpless.

BRANAGH: In the Kats and Mindrawar villages 72 women and children were slaughtered. Thousands of civilians were killed in similar Soviet atrocities throughout Afghanistan.

The Mujahedin committed their own war crimes, often executing Soviet and Afghan prisoners in cold blood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRANAGH (voice-over): With increasing ruthlessness and daring, the Mujahedin attacked Soviet convoys -- the lifeline bringing oil and weapons to the Red Army. The toll of Soviet dead rose to as much as 2,000 a year. Many Soviet conscripts were raw recruits. Sent to Afghanistan after only three months of basic training. Sickness, drunkenness and drug abuse sapped the army's strength. The wounded got minimal care.

The war seemed pointless. UNIDENTIFIED SOVIET SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): You don't know what you're doing. You don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. Perhaps you're gonna die and for the sake of what? For the sake of a system that lies to you? For the sake of a system that turned my father, and all our parents into alcoholics? You suddenly realize that you have been brought up in a system which only creates evil. You just want to escape from it but you don't know where to run. You have only got one hope -- to eat half a kilo of opium, go to sleep and never wake up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SOVIET INFORMATION FILM)

NARRATOR: Soldiers of the friendly army. You often find them giving their spare time to days of communal labor. Today the soldiers are building a children's home. Soviet forces are not only defenders but also creators.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRANAGH: The propaganda was repeated daily in the Soviet press. Returning veterans began to reveal the Soviet troops' true role. But Soviet newspaper readers searched in vain for accurate reports.

BOROVIK: Basically, it was total disinformation of the Soviet public. Soviet soldiers were not fighting a war: the propaganda said they were building schools, kindergartens, roads, er, and guarding caravans with food. That's it.

BRANAGH: In cemeteries across the Soviet Union the cost of the invasion became impossible to hide. Many Russian mothers lost their only child.

SOFIA ZHURAVLEVA, BEREAVED MOTHER, MINSK: A military officer came to me. He said, "Try to be brave. Your son has died."

I couldn't believe it. No. I had only received a letter from him the day before.

I didn't try to open the coffin myself. My brother wanted to, but we were not allowed. The funeral was very quick. They buried him and that was it. It's very hard. I wasn't allowed to write on his gravestone that he'd died in Afghanistan. I could only write in small letters at the bottom that he'd "died while fulfilling his internationalist duty." I didn't see him dead, so to me he's still alive. At every doorbell I think my son has come back. I don't believe he died.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRANAGH (voice-over): In March 1985 an energetic new leader took power in the Kremlin. As Mikhail Gorbachev met crowds of Russians on tours around the country, opposition to the war could finally be expressed in public. Thousands of protest letters poured into Gorbachev's office each week.

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, GENERAL SECRETARY, SOVIET COMMUNIST PARTY (through translator): We had to finish this war, but in such a way that the Russian people would understand why tens of thousands had died and tens of thousands had become invalids. We had to explain what it was all for. We couldn't just run away from there in shame. No. We needed to find a process.

CHERNIAYEV (through translator): There was an obstacle, an ideological one. It was our Vietnam syndrome. It was impossible for a great superpower to run away from this wild country like the Americans in Vietnam. It would damage our prestige.

BRANAGH: The United Nations envoy, Diego Cordovez, was told by Gorbachev that the Soviet Union would consider withdrawing under a U.N. agreement. The emerging issue was what kind of government would run Afghanistan if the Soviets left.

Hoping the U.S. and Pakistan would accept a coalition friendly to Moscow, Gorbachev chose a new Afghan leader, Mohammed Najibullah.

Gorbachev instructed Najibullah to offer talks with the Mujahedin about forming an Afghan government of national reconciliation.

Gorbachev and his peace initiatives were applauded in Moscow, but not yet accepted in Washington.

CASPAR WEINBERGER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He was KGB and he was all the old school and he had some very dubious associations and all the rest. He was trying to persuade the old-line Communists that he was with them and he would appoint them to various positions and he would not make major changes in the economy or in the economic policies or in the military policy.

BRANAGH: On return from his first summit with Gorbachev, Reagan sensed Moscow wanted a deal to get out of Afghanistan. But American hard-liners wanted revenge for Vietnam. Pressed by Congress, Reagan urged the Mujahedin to go for victory.

ANDERSON: It wasn't until really between about '83 to '85 that the forces in Washington who asked the question, "Well, maybe we can win this. Let's not put in $100 million a year worth of weapons, let's put in a billion dollars a year worth of weapons."

BRANAGH: To combat Soviet air supremacy, the United States decided to try out its latest missile -- the Stinger.

Field trials like this looked impressive as the shoulder-fired missile locked on to its target. By sending state-of-the-art American-made Stingers to the Mujahedin, Washington was making plain that America was directly involved in the Afghan war.

Spurred on by the increased American aid, the Mujahedin opposed a U.N. brokered peace agreement that would enable the withdrawal of Soviet troops, but leave the Kabul regime in place.

Signed in Geneva, the 1988 peace agreement barred further military aid to either side in Afghanistan.

Both superpowers ignored the ban; the supply of weapons went on.

The Geneva accords did not bring peace.

WEINBERGER: Our basic feeling was that what the Russians were talking about was a way to get the resistance and the opposition of the West off their backs so to speak, and that they then would be free to pursue other methods of dominating Afghanistan and that's what we did not want to have happen.

SAFRONCHUK (through translator): The Americans didn't want a trace of Marxism left. They wanted to install an anti-Soviet puppet regime they could control. The bleeders or the hawks finally won. Our reason was very simple: "If you carry on giving aid, we'll carry on giving aid."

BRANAGH: In 1988 under the terms of the Geneva agreement, Soviet troops started pulling out. But instead of peace, Afghanistan was to endure more years of bloodshed.

Fighting among rival groups of Islamic fundamentalists continued to destroy the country long after the Cold War was over.

Since 1979, five million Afghans were wounded or forced to flee their homes. Almost 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed.

One million Afghans perished.

ANDERSON: I haven't had a bad night. It's not because I am without feeling for -- or without understanding of how much agony goes along with war. It's just that this was such a contribution to the end of what was otherwise an evil that inflicted other kinds of pain and on so many other people, that on balance it was worth it.

BRUTENTS (through translator): The Afghan people have become the main victims. The Afghans are now fighting each other. Of course, they have plenty of internal reasons for that. But at the same time it's because of a legacy which started in the 1970s that they are now fighting each other with American and Soviet weapons.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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