People like to ascribe many causes to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but one of the most overlooked is the fact that the leaders of the USSR
bought into their own hype. Rather than critically analyzing situations, they wrapped the reality around the propaganda. This was no more apparent than in the Soviet-Afghan War.
The Politburo and Central Committee were largely torn on whether or not to “help” the ruling Afghan government of Nur Muhammad Taraki. Brezhnev, who by then was in his early seventies and suffering from chronic health problems, decided that it would be in the best interests of the country to spread the “April Revolution” and intervene in a civil war between Islamist Rebels and the Communist Government currently in power. But the Soviets largely shuffled their feet until Haifzullah Amin seized power, had Taraki executed, and further fanned the flames of discontent within the country with a series of repressive and Dranconian measures. What first began as an influx of military advisors later morphed into a full-scale invasion of the country once the Politburo realized that they had lost complete control of Amin and that he may be acting as a Rogue agent. Spetsnaz
commandos stormed one of his palaces, and killed him with a hand grenade as he dove behind a bar for cover on an upper floor.
Thus began the 9+ year Soviet involvement in Afghanistan
. Rather than admit they never should have entered the country, nor intervened in its continually escalating civil war, the Soviet higher ups were so convinced that the largely tribal Pashtuns and other ethnic groups of Afghanistan
would accept Soviet-style communism simply because it was presented in front of them.
The Soviet military effort was a manual on how to **** up a counter insurgency. Not only were their individual soldiers woefully equipped for the drastic weather changes in Afghanistan
, but much of the equipment they used was outdated, defective, or utterly worthless. Corruption and abuse were rampant within the military ranks. Senior enlisted men, called deda
essentially acted as licensed torturers of the newly conscripted men, and routinely beat them, made them carry their gear, or burned them with cigarettes for simple pleasure.
Meanwhile, the Soviets incurred heavy losses from the increasingly well-equipped mujihadeen, many of whom used advanced guerilla warfare tactics. Unwilling to remain a stationary target for a much stronger conventional enemy, they set up ambushes, always sought out the high ground, and only attacked when it was strategically beneficial.
In spite of mounting Soviet casualties (which were officially listed as 15,000 for the conflict but in reality may have been nearer 50,000), the Soviet press was unable to report on the size of movements or casualty numbers. Anything larger than brigades were not to be mentioned, as the leaders did not want the public to think the USSR
was even that deeply engaged in Afghanistan
. Furthermore, reporters could not list any more than 3 deaths as a result of any one attack, again to provide the illusion of strength for the populace.
The ultimate story of the Soviet War in Afghanistan
is that it was one undertaken by a paper tiger who thought that the strength of its rhetoric would be able to conquer the will of a people. The mere fact that the Soviets would bring the “April Revolution” would be, in and of itself, enough of a panacea to quell any conflicts.
The reality was far different.
Soviet soldiers nearly starved on the ground, and were prohibited from buying fruit and food from local merchants. Many of them resorted to brewing alcohol from jet fuel filtered through the carbon filters of their gas masks as a form of self medication. On a related note, we continue to starve our defense in a draft rich with talent at the most important positions and also those of greatest need.
Similarly, Pioli’s regime seems to have the approach that merely picking retreads, coaches, and complementary players will work because it was done by them. There seems to be no effort to actually critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these players and scout other teams’ needs relative to their own. Several examples can be given. The fact that their draft board only contains around 100 names is one.
The fact that they will almost exclusively pick players from two conferences is another.
Lets look back at the Chiefs’ last two drafts
Players selected by conference:
, Jackson, McCluster, Arenas, Succop
Big Ten: Magee, Asamoah, Moeaki, Washington
All other conferences in all other levels of college football: Brown, Lawrence, O’Connell
Additionally, if we go back to the free agency activity of 2009 and 2010, we see that with rare exception, the people brought into the fold almost universally have past experience with someone from the regime.
Most importantly, the inability to admit a mistake. Just like the Soviets should have left Afghanistan
in January of 1980 and saved themselves and the Afghan people over a million lives combined, the Chiefs should at some point cut bait with Matt Cassel. There will not be a lower risk—higher reward proposition than Jimmy Clausen. His salary would have been low and his familiarity with the terminology of the offense would have been high. One could make the claim that Charlie Weis did not want Clausen, but if that is the case, why are their multiple reports that he advocated for Clausen at multiple times, and according to Chris Mortenson on the draft telecast this evening, personally gave his own stamp of approval on the Panthers drafting Clausen. Even if Clausen isn’t Joe Montana (and he’s not), if we don’t take someone who meshes so perfectly with our offense, we aren’t taking another QB. Period.
Scott Pioli seems to think that drafting late round QBs is a winning proposition because it worked once for him with Tom Brady and because Matt Cassel put up good fantasy stats in 2008 when surrounded by the best skill position talent in the NFL.
We have hitched ourselves to Matt Cassel. We have invested nearly countless resources (Weis, Chambers, Asamoah, McCluster, Moeaki, Jones, Lilja, Wiegmann) this offseason just for the sole purpose of helping him out, not to mention a second round draft pick and 63 million dollars.
It will not work.
Matt Cassel is our Afghanistan
and our stubborn inability to realize the futility of the situation will only further entrench ourselves as doormats of the NFL.