- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A billionaire considers the financial toll: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has a certain amount of glee when it comes to Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria.

“I love the fact that Russia is spending a lot of their money, a lot of their manpower and we’re not necessarily going to have to spend this much,” Mr. Trump noted this week.

“I think that’s OK. Russia got bogged down in Afghanistan. It ruined the Soviet Union because, I don’t know if you know, but the Soviet Union was basically destroyed. It went virtually bankrupt because of what happened. They got bogged down in Afghanistan. They’ll probably get bogged down over here, too,” Mr. Trump told the Fox Business Network.

According to a partial estimate revealed in CIA declassified documents, the Soviet Union spent at least $50 billion - in 1984 dollars - during a six-year period in Afghanistan. The effort began in December, 1979 and continued for a decade. The Soviet Union arrived in support of the Afghan communist government, itself in conflict with anticommunist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War, which lasted from 1978-92. Some 14,500 Soviet Armed Forces troops were killed, 54,000 were wounded and many thousands sickened by the grueling conditions.

“This event began a brutal, decade-long attempt by Moscow to subdue the Afghan civil war and maintain a friendly and socialist government on its border. It was a watershed event of the Cold War, marking the only time the Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc — a strategic decision met by nearly worldwide condemnation. While the massive, lightning-fast military maneuvers and brazenness of Soviet political objectives constituted an ‘invasion’ of Afghanistan, the word ‘intervention more accurately describes these events as the culmination of growing Soviet domination going back to 1973,” summarizes an official U.S. State Dept. historic account of the efforts.

“Undoubtedly, leaders in the Kremlin had hoped that a rapid and complete military takeover would secure Afghanistan’s place as an exemplar of the Brezhnev Doctrine, which held that once a country became socialist Moscow would never permit it to return to the capitalist camp. The United States and its European allies, guided by their own doctrine of containment, sharply criticized the Soviet move into Afghanistan and devised numerous measures to compel Moscow to withdraw.”

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