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How did the Russian experience in Afghanistan resemble the American experience in Vietnam?

The Afghan Revolution and Civil War, Soviet intervention and Afghan resistance proved to be a pivotal series of events in the Cold War and the 1980s.
On 27 April 1978 (7 Saour 1357), the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a Marxist organization led by Nur Mohammed Taraki, seized control of the country.  Babrak Karmal and Hafizullah Amin, key figures in the unfolding drama, also assumed prominent posts in the revolutionary government.  Although Marxist, the new leaders insisted that they were not controlled by the Soviet Union and that their policies did not deviate from the principles of Afghan nationalism, Islamic justice and foreign policy nonalignment.  The PDPA also promised to respect all agreements and treaties signed by previous Afghan governments.
Soon after seizing power, the Taraki regime announced a traditional Marxist-Leninist reform program, including the establishment of full women's rights and the implementation of land reform.  Although the reforms threatened to undermine Afghan cultural traditions, widespread resistance did not begin until the summer of 1978 when revolts spread throughout Afghanistan's provinces and cities. On 14 February 1979, in one of these outbursts of violence, the U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs died.  This led to the elimination of any U.S. presence in the country.
On 28 March 1979, Hafizullah Amin became prime minister, although Taraki retained some of his party posts. When anarchy continued to spread through the country, Amin asked for, and received, additional Soviet aid.  Conditions continued to deteriorate, and on 14 September 1979, Taraki died in a confrontation with Amin's supporters.  Finally, on the night of 24 December 1979, the Soviets began an invasion of Afghanistan--Amin died three days later.  Karmal returned from the Soviet Union and became the new prime minister, president of the Revolutionary Council and secretary general of the PDPA.
Opposition to the Soviet troops and Karmal spread fast.  By early the following year, several informal resistance groups, called the mujahideen (from the Persian word for "warriors"), had emerged to resist the Soviets.  The uprising grew in strength over the ensuing years, and on 4 May 1986, in a desperate move, Mohammad Najibullah, former head of the secret police, replaced Karmal as secretary general of the PDPA--Karmal soon lost all his posts.
In November 1987 a new constitution changed the name of the country back to the Republic of Afghanistan with Najibullah elected to the post of president, but Afghan resistance to the Soviets continued.  By that time, the situation for the regime had become desperate; Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran numbered in the millions; and morale in the Afghan military was non-existent. Soviet attempts to introduce new tactics, for example, the use of the Spetsnaz (special forces), were met by counter-efforts.  The only weapon that seriously harmed the resistance was the use of combat helicopters and jet bombers, but toward the end of 1986, the mujahideen began to receive better weapons from the outside world (the U.S., United Kingdom and China), including shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles.
Pressure from the Pakistanis, the world community and from guerrilla commanders forced the seven major resistance groups to form an alliance in May 1985, but struggles for leadership continued, especially in areas where the Soviets had little influence, such as Hazarajat and Nurestan.
Meanwhile, talks between Afghan foreign ministers and Pakistan diplomats were being held in Geneva under the supervision of the United Nations.  Peace accords were finally signed in April 1988, only after Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, promised to begin withdrawing Soviet troops in May of that year.  The withdrawal began as scheduled, with the last Soviet soldier leaving on 15 February 1989.
After the Soviet withdrawal, civil war continued.  The mujahideen formed an interim government in Pakistan and resisted all efforts at reconciliation.  Najibullah was finally ousted from power in 1992, and a coalition of rebel forces set up an interim government, but rival militias and guerrilla groups continued to vie for influence.

24 June 1931, Afghan-Soviet treaty of neutrality and mutual non-aggression signed. 
17 August 1940, King Zahir Shah declared Afghanistan's neutrality in World War II. 
1 January 1965, Creation of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). 

Afghanistan Flag
17 April 1973, Muhammad Zahir Shah deposed. 
17 July 1973, First republican government created with Mohammed Daoud Khan as the first President of Afghanistan. 
27 April 1978 (7 Saour ,1357), Mohammed Daud Khan overthrown in the Saour (April) "Revolution," organized by the PDPA.  Nur Mohammad Taraki became president of the Revolutionary Council, prime minister of the country and secretary general of party.  Babrak Karmal and Hafizullah Amin were elected deputy prime ministers. 
5 December 1978, Afghan-Soviet Treaty of cooperation signed. 
14 February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs kidnapped and killed. 
28 March 1979, Amin became prime minister. 
14 September 1979, Taraki removed from power (10 October 1979 assassinated). 
24 December 1979, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began. 
27 December 1979, Amin died.  Karmal assumed power. 
1980, U.S. protest involved a boycott of the summer olympic games in Moscow. 
4 May 1986, Mohammad Najibullah, former head of the secret police, replaced Karmal as secretary general of the PDPA (Karmal was relieved of all his posts in November 1986). 
20 July 1987, First meeting of Najibullah and Gorbachev to discuss the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. 
November 1987, new Afghan constitution adopted. 
14 April 1988, Gorbachev, in a meeting in Tashkent with Najibullah, announced the start of Soviet troop withdrawals. 
15 May 1988, Soviet troops began to withdraw.  Mujahideen could not be defeated, especially with the impact of glasnost' and world TV coverage. 
7 June 1988, Najibullah addressed the U.N. General Assembly and asked for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Afghanistan. 
9 June 1988, Najibullah declared, according to the Bakhtar News Agency, that 243,900 soldiers and civilians had died in ten years of war in Afghanistan. 
15 February 1989, Soviet pull-out completed. 
19 November 1990, Najibullah met with prominent Afghan figures in Geneva and agreed that Switzerland would mediate the formation of a coalition government in Afghanistan. 
16 April 1992, Najibullah regime collapsed (resigned 25 April). 
25 April 1992, civil war resumed. 
27 September 1996, Afghan President Burhan-ul Din Rabani and his military chief Ahmad Shah Massoud fled the capital.  Kabul captured by the Taliban militia. 
4 February 1998, Takhar Earthquake left more than 5,000 dead in Takhar. 
17 April 1998, Washington's U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson organized a promise of negotiations and a cease-fire. 
26 April 1998, UN-sponsored talks began between Afghan factions in Pakistan.

WWW sites
There is an abundance of information on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on the web, but it is sometimes difficult to locate:

Recommended Books
There is an immense reading list available about the Soviet-Afghan War and its various aspects, including:  William Maley, ed., Fundamentalism Reborn: Afghanistan and the Taliban (New York, 1998); Barnett Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan (New Haven, 1995); M. Hassan Kakar, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982 (Berkeley, 1995); Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal (New York, 1995); Kurt Lohbeck, Holy War, Unholy Victory:  Eyewitness to the CIA's Secret War in Afghanistan (Washington, DC, 1993); Vladislav Tamarov, Afghanistan:  Soviet Vietnam (San Francisco, 1992); Bo Huldt and Erland Jansson, The Tragedy of Afghanistan (London, 1988); Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan:  The Soviet Invasion in Perspective (Stanford, 1985).  One of the best was written by one of my advisors at the University of Virginia, Thomas Hammond, Red Flag over Afghanistan:  The Communist coup, the Soviet Invasion and the Consequences (Boulder, 1984).

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