How did President Carter respond to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?


Cold War

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pohnpei397's profile pic

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When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter had three main reactions.  Carter did not like the idea of the Soviets invading Afghanistan and so he set out to try to show his disapproval.

One thing that Carter did was to impose economic sanctions on the Soviets.  Most notably, he stopped selling them grain that they needed because they did not produce enough of their own.  Second, and perhaps most controversially, Carter ordered a US boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games.  These games were held in Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union.  Carter did not want to have the US participate in them and, thereby, seem to approve of what the Soviets had done in Afghanistan.  Many of the United States’ allies also boycotted the games.

Most importantly, Carter started the process of arming Afghan opposition to the Soviets.  These Afghans came to be known as the mujahidin.  They were seen as freedom fighters by many in the West and the US continued to arm them through the Reagan years. 

gsenviro's profile pic

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President Carter took the following steps to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan:

  • Supplies of weapons and training to rebels
  • Trade Embargo on USSR
  • Withdrawal from Moscow Olympics (several other countries also followed suit)
  • Economic sanctions   

The US took strong objection to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and did everything it could to make this invasion as painful and as short as possible. Along with other countries, the US itself provided weapons and training to the insurgents. It is estimated that over 3 billion dollars were spent on supplies to the insurgents. These provisions from the US and other countries (China, Pakistan, Turkey, etc.) made the war expensive for the USSR.

President Carter also recalled US ambassadors to the USSR. He also requested the senate postpone discussions on the SALT-II program, a nuclear weapon reduction program between the US and the USSR.

One unfortunate and long-term effect of US intervention was the emergence of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. 

mkoren's profile pic

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When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the United States and President Carter were not pleased. We let the Soviet Union know this invasion was not justified or acceptable. However, the Soviet Union wouldn’t leave Afghanistan. Thus, the United States developed a plan to deal with this situation.

President Carter ordered an embargo on the sale of grain to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union depended on grain from our country, and President Carter hoped this would encourage the Soviet Union to leave. When this didn’t happen, President Carter announced the United States would not take part in the 1980 Summer Olympic Games that were being held in the Soviet Union. Other countries also agreed to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games. This was somewhat controversial because athletes who had trained for years felt they were being punished. These athletes felt they were being used as political pawns and weren’t happy about it.

President Carter also provided aid to the Afghan rebels who were fighting the Soviet invasion. The group we helped was the Taliban. Aiding the Taliban came back to haunt us many years later.

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