The Soviet Union and the War in Afghanistan
Soviet involvement in the Third World might be categorized in several ways. The two most obvious and most pervasive categories are trade and diplomacy. A peculiarly Soviet category is the effort to attain influence, perhaps even some degree of domination, by working through communist party channels. The USSR's 1950 trade agreement with Afghanistan was followed in January 1954 by its first postwar economic aid commitment outside the Soviet bloc. The initial agreement for Soviet military equipment and training for Afghanistan was concluded in July 1956. The determination of the Afghan people to defend their way of life is, of course, the primary point in any consideration of the Soviet policy change. Gorbachev was determined to reduce foreign burdens, whether from the arms race or from regional commitments, while concentrating on domestic changes that he considered essential for the long-term health of a sick Soviet system.