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Lecture 13

ENGL 583 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Yuri Andropov, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fim-92 Stinger

Course Code
ENGL 583
David Dolff

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2 december
Despite the lack of public support the soviet managed to have a military success. September 86 americans
decide that they would share a new missile with the mujahideen : the stinger missile. It gives the ability to
shoot a soviet aircraft. The soviets no longer have absolute control of the air. Within a year, 270 soviet
aircrafts are shot down and gives the advantages to the mujahideen. We don’t really know what happened
to these stinger missiles afterwards. The soviet public hates this endless brutal war, perhaps even more so
than the americans in vietnam. Soviet public can’t see the point in fighting in afghanistan : racism among
the soviet society, they don’t care about what is happening in central asia.
The public in the soviet union don’t have freedom of speech or free press. Gorbachev tries to negotiate a
cease fire, mujahideen want all soviets out. In 1987 Gorbachev announces that the soviets will go back
home. When they withdraw it devolves into a civil war, power vacuum and instability in afghanistan.
Officially the soviets lost 14 000 men. Unofficially the figures are much higher, best estimates is between
40 to 50 000. About a million afghans killed plus a million or so becoming refugees (internal refugees).
The americans were spending a billion dollars a year funding the mujahideen and transporting weapons.
Most transport is going through pakistan. Many american congress reject a bill to spend money into
reconstruction of the country. They don’t want to fix things up afterwards.
The soviet invasion of afghanistan sets the stage for ronald reagan. People love or hate reagan.
Reagan comes into office by trying to paint carter as a wimp and that the us have grown weaker and it is
time to turn that around. Reagan gains a good boost from the beginning when the iranian hostages are
released on his first day of office.
Part of his plan is taking a strong stand against the soviet union. Reagan tries to push things further : he
proposed the strategic defence initiative (star wars program). The idea was to use outer space to shoot
down anti-ballistic missiles on earth. This program was really unclear then and is still unclear now. It
would be very costly to even try. Reagan was insisting in pushing ahead with it. With this program people
considered reagan either as a borderline genius or a borderline idiot.
Soviet scientists didn’t believe this program would work. Even if SDI worked, it wouldn’t worked from
the beginning to get soviet missiles down. However there were a lot of soviet fear and anxiety on the
soviet side. What if the soviet are wrong and the program ends up working ? And even if the system as a
whole doesn’t work, the us investments would give the us a considerable advantage. The soviets feel like
they have to do the same thing even if it doesn’t work. It costs them lots of money and by the end of 80s
soviet economy is considerable slowing down.
Did reagan understand this and planned star wars accordingly just to put pressure on the soviets ?
83 : soviets shoot down a civilian passenger liner and the americans make a very big deal out of this
Another event that seems to contribute to the re-hardening of the cold war : october to december 1983 us
invasion of granada. They had a very calm socialist movement, the New Jewel. They accepted aid for
the cubans, us are still afraid of this spread of communism. Us fear that Grenada may become communist
and invades. The scale of the invasion is almost comical.
It is often portrayed as reagan trying to overcome vietnam syndrome : choosing a little target over which
they can win easily.
Brezhnev dies in 1982. His successor is Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov but he dies on the 9th of february
1984. The next successor is Konstantin Chernenko who also dies on the 10th march 1985.
Then comes Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, 1931-...
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