This paper, based on material that appeared in the winter, 1987, issue of Global Affairs, examines the origins and evolution of U.S. policies and attitudes toward the Afghan-Soviet war and their implications for the outcome of the war on the Afghan people. The Carter Administration first was unwilling to face the reality of a communist takeover in Kabul, despite overwhelming evidence of radical restructuring of Afghan society and brutal violations of human rights. Only the full-scale Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 caused a reassessment of Soviet intentions. But the overdue aid program left much to be desired in its objectives and operational methods. A Soviet unconditional pullout could improve relations with the West because Moscow might realize that its traditional tendency to promote its political and ideological objectives by force of arms and intimidation has diminishing utility.
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