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Trump defends Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan

During his freewheeling, 90-minute cabinet meeting Wednesday, President Donald Trump briefly argued that the...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 2:56 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 2:56 PM

During his freewheeling, 90-minute cabinet meeting Wednesday, President Donald Trump briefly argued that the Soviet Union "was right" to invade Afghanistan in 1979 because "terrorists were going into Russia," a head-scratching aside that was widely criticized as historically inaccurate.

"Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. So you take a look at other countries. Pakistan is there. They should be fighting," Trump said.

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"But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in, in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt. They went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union," he added.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board reacted strongly to Trump's comments in an op-ed Friday: "Right to be there? We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with three divisions in December 1979 to prop up a fellow communist government."

The Soviet Union, which was comprised of Russia and several now independent Eastern European and Asian nations, did in fact invade Afghanistan amid Cold War tensions with the US.

But Trump's assertion that Russia was "right to be there" conflicts with the fact that the US strongly opposed the invasion and supported the guerilla insurgency that ultimately forced the Soviets to leave in 1988.

His claim that the incursion was a response to "terrorists going into Russia" also diverges with what the US believed, that it was part of the Soviet effort to spread communism.

The Kremlin's bloody nine-year campaign to support the Marxist government in Kabul cost the lives of more than 14,000 troops and hit the Soviet economy before its 100,000-strong army was forced into a humiliating withdrawal.

While the Soviet economy did ultimately collapse, it did not go bankrupt, contrary to Trump's claim. Additionally, that collapse was not solely caused by the invasion into Afghanistan but rather a myriad of factors, including systemic issues within the Soviet Union's communist economy.

Trump has long been critical of the US' own presence in Afghanistan, which began after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his latest comments come as the US military has been ordered to begin planning to withdraw about half the troops in from the country.

That decision was made last month, at the same time as Trump's decision to withdraw the US military from Syria -- moves that precipitated Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation announcement.

Trump criticized Mattis during Wednesday's meeting, specifically mentioning his handling of Afghanistan.

"What's he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not happy with what he's done in Afghanistan and I shouldn't be happy," Trump said.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of which are present as part of a larger NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. Any withdrawal would be complicated by the fact that the United States is part of NATO's Resolute Support mission.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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