Was Soviet War in Afghanistan a genocide?

It was a very low intensity war – USSR lost 15,000 soldiers, and withdrew due to internal issues. But the war involved mass murder of Afghan civilians by USSR – at least a million. Was it a genocide? Should USA officially acknowledge it as a genocide? Would such acknowledgment help US relations with Muslim World?

No, no, and hell no.

Are you more familiar with the situation in that region? Do you have any first hand knowledge?

I got most of my information from written materials.


Uh… your idea of a reliable cite is Wikipedia?

You’re not helping your case.

Your original post asserts that “the war involved mass murder of Afghan civilians by USSR.” Your link doesn’t back up your assertion. It simply states that there were around one million total civilian deaths. There was a civil war in the country at the time, with different groups killing different groups of people.

There were an estimated half a million to over two million civilian deaths in the Vietnam War (link). Does that mean the U.S. committed genocide in Vietnam?

I am not writing a peer – reviewed work, and I am not a politician. I am just curious why that war with over a million deaths has been forgotten.

I do not know – many liberals in USA believe that it was genocide. Many hippies considered it a genocide and protested.


I think blaming the Afghan situation entirely on the USSR is maybe too simplistic, as it ignores the fact that there were factions fighting on the ground (not to mention Pakistani involvement).

Moreover, were the US and the UK guilty of genocide against the Germans during WWII.

None of what I’ve said is to justify the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or the war crimes they engaged in.

It was horrible and some could argue it amounted to genocide, but I think the word is way too overused and shouldn’t be used here either.

Wikipedia is a decent first-level of information. A good place to start.

If the article is wrong, you could put in requests for correction. Wikipedia is no longer the pure experiment in democracy it once was (it failed.) It now has at least a basic level of editing.

In any case, rather than only attacking the cite on the basis of its source, can you help out the thread a little by posting a better summary from a source you feel is trustworthy?

I don’t think so, though I guess where you should start is what definition of genocide you are using. Certainly the Soviets killed a lot of people in Afghanistan. Not taking anything away from how brutal their tactics were there, but they didn’t go out of their way to deliberately kills Afghans because they were Muslim or because they were Afghans but because they were fighting back. It doesn’t excuse what they did, and I think a good case could be made for some serious war crimes by the Soviets, but I don’t think it was genocide per se.

To what purpose? The Soviet Union doesn’t even exist any more. Also, as I said above, I don’t think it was genocide by any definition I’ve ever heard.

I can’t see how it would do a thing to help our relations with anyone and would simply antagonize the Russians.

A lot of the systematic executions occurred under Kabul’s communists. While the KGB was certainly playing an advisory role, the USSR didn’t exactly have direct control of the Afghan communist leaders. Moscow actually felt that Afghanistan was not ready for a soviet-style system (because the economy was in shambles and the population illiterate) and in fact tried to persuade Nur Taraki to move at a slower pace.

It hasn’t been forgotten. But it’s been put into historical perspective. It was part of the Cold War and with the demise of the Soviet Union that greater conflict is now also part of history.

The War of the Austrian Succession was a huge deal at the time. But Austria’s a republic now and nobody really cares nowadays which side won.

It wasn’t a genocide. The Soviet Union’s goal wasn’t to wipe out a specific racial/ethnic group, or even religious or economic group. The Soviets went in Afghanistan and stayed in there to prop up a friendly government and fight the people who were trying to overthrow it. In order to do that, they committed all sorts of massacres and atrocities, but it wasn’t genocide.

You like to post stuff like this all the time. Fact is, wikipedia articles are cited with original sources. If you have a problem with those sources, fine. But just saying “wikipedia is teh suxxor” is, frankly, rather ignorant.

As for the OP, not every instance of mass killings is genocide. Make your case. Which ethnic group did the USSR have a policy to eliminate? How did they go about doing it, and hose successful were they? “A bunch of people were killed” is not much of an argument that there was a genocide.

Perhaps “genocidal” would be a better description.

Sigh… Ok, who wrote this article? What are his credentials and qualifications? Is he or she an acknowledged expert in Soviet or Afghan history? Would he or she be able to even order dinner in Dari or Russian?

There’s a reason most serious academics don’t take wikipedia seriously. At best it can point you in the direction of good sources.

Wikipedia is fine for some things, but on any controversial topic, such as just about anything relating to the MENA it’s best to be avoided for a ton of reasons.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is probably better than any article on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, or the Israel/Palestine conflict, but it’s still something I’d avoid.

To the OP: if you’re going to make such arguments at least point to specific things like the use of booby trapped toys clearly designed to kill children.

The number is footnoted in the article you know. Here: Noor Ahmad Khalidi, “Afghanistan: Demographic Consequences of War: 1978-87,” Central Asian Survey, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 101–126, 1991. and Marek Sliwinski, “Afghanistan: The Decimation of a People,” Orbis (Winter, 1989), p.39.