11-11: Evil Empire

soviets invade afghanistan 1979

Unfortunately after detente and the thawing of US Soviet relations, the Cold War hostilities restarted. The Soviet Union in 1979 invaded neighboring Afghanistan under the guise of assisting a friendly communist government. The United States was outraged and cancelled the next round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). The US President at this time, Jimmy Carter, went on national TV to express the grave concern of the United States and put the Soviet Union on notice. Read the primary source document below and answer the questions that follow.


“Recently, there has been another very serious development which threatens the maintenance of the peace in Southwest Asia. Massive Soviet military forces have invaded the small, nonaligned, sovereign nation of Afghanistan, which had hitherto not been an occupied satellite of the Soviet Union.

Fifty thousand heavily armed Soviet troops have crossed the border and are now dispersed throughout Afghanistan, attempting to conquer the fiercely independent Muslim people of that country.

The Soviets claim, falsely, that they were invited into Afghanistan to help protect that country from some unnamed outside threat. But the President, who had been the leader of Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion, was assassinated—along with several members of his family—after the Soviets gained control of the capital city of Kabul. Only several days later was the new puppet leader even brought into Afghanistan by the Soviets.

This invasion is an extremely serious threat to peace because of the threat of further Soviet expansion into neighboring countries in Southwest Asia and also because such an aggressive military policy is unsettling to other peoples throughout the world.

This is a callous violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. It is a deliberate effort of a powerful atheistic government to subjugate an independent Islamic people.

We must recognize the strategic importance of Afghanistan to stability and peace. A Soviet-occupied Afghanistan threatens both Iran and Pakistan and is a steppingstone to possible control over much of the world’s oil supplies.” ~ President Carter’s Address to the Nation on the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan delivered form the Oval Office on January 4, 1980


Primary Source Document Questions:

  1. What is the main idea contained within these documents?
  2. What is going on in the country/world when these document were written?
  3. Are these documents a reliable source? Why or why not? (Is there bias?)
  4. Who said this? When did they say it?
  5. What are 2 facts that you have learned in class or on your own that you can connect to this document?
  6. How does this primary source contribute to our understanding of the time frame and/or history?