Soviet & Afghan War

Soviet & Afghan War


The Soviet Afghanistan war is an integral part of the history of 9/11. The CIA decided to arm the Afghan resistance fighters (mujahedeen) to repel the Soviet invasion as part of the larger cold war strategy. After the Afghan victory, the US stopped financially supporting the Afghans. This lack of financial support and withdrawal of the Soviet Union contributed to a power struggle between different tribes for control of Afghanistan, eventually culminating in a civil war.  Some of the radical Mujahedeen fighters the CIA funded eventually formed the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan and allowed extremists like Osama bin Laden to establish a presence In Afghanistan. 

Essential Questions:

How does the Soviet/Afghan war contribute to the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda? 

  1. What was the role of the US in the Soviet/Afghan War? 
  2. How does the Soviet/Afghan War fit into the larger history of the Cold War and imperialism/colonialism? 
  3. Why did the US secretly fund the Mujahedeen? Why did the US then decide to pull funding and support from Afghanistan?


  1. Charlie Wilson’s War (Movie)
      1. Tom Hanks’ movie about Texas Congressmen Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos and Michealk Vickers, helped increase funding and provided military assistance to the Mujahedeen to defeat the Soviets. The final 50-55 mins can be viewed in a single scene and it skips over some earlier potentially age-inappropriate sense with drugs and nudity. 
      2. EQ: 1, 2, and 3
  2. CIA Documents
    1. CIA memo outlining the war and strategy: 
      1. This is a CIA memo outlining The US strategy towards the Mujahedeen near the end of the Soviet-Afghan War. The most notable element is point six, which argues why the US should not disengage from Afghanistan and how that disengagement could be detrimental to Afghanistan. This can be used to explain why the CIA knew it was a bad decision to stop supporting Afghanistan.
      2. EC: 1 and 3
    2. News article about a schooling teacher selling arms for the CIA: 
      1. This is an article about an American schoolteacher who was sentenced to ten years in prison for smuggling arms to Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. The press release outlines how the CIA arms the Mujahedeen and how they did this without trying to be detected by the Soviets.
      2. EC: 1
  3. Kite Runner
    1. This is a book written by Khaled Hosseini about two boys growing up in Afghanistan together during the 1970s. The story focuses on the main character, Amir, and his relationship with a boy who works for his family, Hassan. A crucial aspect of the book is Amir and his father’s escape from Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and his return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
    2. EC: 2 and 3
  4. Skyespicot Map
      1. These are the Sykes Picot map, which depicts an agreement between the French and British on how to divide the Middle East after World War I. The map was eventually leaked by the new communist government in Russia to highlight the imperialistic and colonial nature of the British and French goals after the war.
      2. EC: 2

Types of Sources:

  • Movie
  • Novel
  • Map
  • Government Memo
  • News Article