Aiding Afghanistan: A History of Soviet Assistance to a Developing Country

Overview

For nearly sixty years, Afghanistan has been one of the world's largest recipients of foreign development aid, yet it remains one of the poorest countries on earth. The Soviet Union provided Afghanistan with large-scale economic and technical assistance for close to twenty-five years before it invaded the country in 1979. It increased its assistance during the 1980s in an effort to prop up the current government and undermine the insurgency, yet none of this aid made any lasting difference to Afghan poverty. The ...

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Overview

For nearly sixty years, Afghanistan has been one of the world's largest recipients of foreign development aid, yet it remains one of the poorest countries on earth. The Soviet Union provided Afghanistan with large-scale economic and technical assistance for close to twenty-five years before it invaded the country in 1979. It increased its assistance during the 1980s in an effort to prop up the current government and undermine the insurgency, yet none of this aid made any lasting difference to Afghan poverty. The same can be said for many other countries, in which foreign aid failed to promote economic growth.

Drawing on overlooked Soviet sources, this book investigates the Soviet Union's economic and technical assistance programs from the mid-1950s to the regime's collapse in 1991. It connects these programs' approaches to both Soviet-era development theory and more modern ideas about the role of institutions in fostering economic growth. In some respects, by acknowledging the centrality of institution-building, Soviet development theorists were actually ahead of their contemporary Western counterparts, yet these intellectuals failed to translate their ideas into practical solutions. This volume identifies the strengths and ultimate weaknesses of these programs, with findings that have wide implications for the future of international aid.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Demonstrates that the long Soviet civil involvement in Afghanistan was so much more coherent and extensive than our own, yet still it failed. In doing so the book asks tough questions about the whole concept of 'intervention.' The intelligent reader looking for reasons why things went awry in our own occupation could do no better than read it. Indeed there are lessons here for all of those engaged in so-called 'stabilisation activities' wherever they are."--Frank Ledwidge, author of Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan

"Little attention has been paid either by Russian or foreign scholars to Soviet attempts to re-engineer the state and economy of Afghanistan both before and during the long war they fought in that country. This important and well-researched book goes a long way towards filling the gap. The authors judge that Soviet aid policy was well-intentioned. But it failed, for many of the reasons that Western aid policies are failing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is a bleak conclusion."--Rodric Braithwaite, British Ambassador to Moscow 1988-1992, and author of Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-1989

"A fresh look at a topic which was wildly mis-analysed during the cold war, this volume represents a balanced analysis of achievements and failures of Soviet aid to Afghanistan. The authors have something important to say concerning development aid more generally, based on shared problems between Soviet and western aid experiences."--Antonio Giustozzi, author of Empires of Mud: Wars and Warlords in Afghanistan and editor of Decoding the New Taliban: Insights From the Afghan Field

Frank Ledwidge

Aiding Afghanistan demonstrates that the long Soviet civil involvement in Afghanistan was so much more coherent and extensive than our own, yet still it failed. In doing so the book asks tough questions about the whole concept of "intervention." The intelligent reader looking for reasons why things went awry in our own occupation could do no better than read it. Indeed there are lessons here for all of those engaged in so-called "stabilisation activities" wherever they are.

Rodric Braithwaite

Little attention has been paid either by Russian or foreign scholars to Soviet attempts to re-engineer the state and economy of Afghanistan both before and during the long war they fought in that country. This important and well-researched book goes a long way towards filling the gap. The authors judge that Soviet aid policy was well-intentioned. But it failed, for many of the reasons that Western aid policies are failing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is a bleak conclusion.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199327911
  • Publisher: An Oxford University Press Publication
  • Publication date: 12/15/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Robinson is a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He has written numerous books and articles on a range of subjects, including Russian and Soviet history, most notably The White Russian Army in Exile, 1920-1941.

Jay Dixon received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied international economics and political economy. He currently works for Industry Canada, researching the determinants of Canada's economic growth, and he lectures on macroeconomic policy in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the University of Ottawa.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Models of Development and Soviet Theories
3. Soviet Assistance to Afghanistan Prior to 1979
4. Soviet Assistance to Afghanistan: 1979-86
5. Soviet Assistance to Afghanistan: 1987-91
6. Conclusion
Annex I. Major Development Projects Completed by the
Soviet Union
Annex II. Key Soviet-Afghan Treaties, Agreements, Protocols,
and Letters, 1955-88
Annex III. Profits of Enterprises Built with the Assistance of the
USSR, 1976-77
Annex IV. Credits Granted by the Soviet Union for Economic
Development
Annex V. Postponements of Debt Repayments, 1965-91
Annex VI. Major Development Projects Cancelled by the
Soviet Union, 1980-85
Annex VII. Credits Granted by the Soviet Union for the Purchase of Consumer Goods
Annex VIII. Costs of Soviet Technical Assistance to Afghanistan,
1981-91
Annex IX. Economic Assistance and Other Expenses, 1986-87

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