Adversarial relationships should never be spared of calm inquiry. But India lacks a culture. The 1962 conflict with China, occupation of Siachen in 1984, IPKF odyssey in Sri Lanka, Kargil War – these should not remain wrapped in mythical mist cover till eternity. The thought occured, as I savoured a fantastic double-decker feast of a book review in the weekend edition of WSJ.
Ambassador Rodric Braithwaite’s book on the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan) is undoubtedly one of the most honest inquiries into that subject available today. Consider this: A British ambassador assigned to Moscow who worked in close collaboration with his American counterpart to relentlessly torpedo the Soviet regional policies in the late 1970s, stands back and admits that the West laid a bear trap for Moscow in the Hindu Kush and the bear walked into it. Howzaat, J.R.Jayewardene?
The book draws the red line on what happens when the security establishment rules the roost on foreign-policy making, as the KGB did in this case. Or, how misfortune ensues when an ailing, indecisive leadership is incapable of saying ‘Nyet’ to the securitywallahs.
Curiously, Soviet Army was realistic and warned of the consequences of an intervention and saw its futility. Tragically, though, by the time the hardliners realised their folly, the rules of the game had changed on the political chessboard and it turned out to be a unilateral Soviet withdrawal, despite the best US efforts to delay it as far as it could. Any lessons for India’s future role in Kabul?
The best part of Braithwaite’s book is his frank assessment that no matter the propaganda, the defeat in Afghanistan was hardly a factor in the disintegration (or disbandment – depending on one’s point of view) of the Soviet Union. The WSJ book review is here.
Posted in Politics.
– November 13, 2011