Zooey Greif Interviews Oleg Novinkov

Zooey Greif, April 22, 2012

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Oleg Novinkov, former Soviet officer and author of Afghan Boomerang, discusses the propaganda-filled book Charlie Wilson’s War about the CIA operation to arm mujaheddin in their fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan; the Western media’s re-labeling of Afghan “freedom fighters” as “terrorists” once the US invaded; why Afghans would rather be occupied by the Soviets than the US/NATO; how a new Cold War with China will eventually displace the War on Terror as the top US priority; and why Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and perestroika are much more respected in the West than in Russia.

MP3 here. (30:07)

Oleg Novinkov was a Soviet Air Force flight surgeon who was stationed in Kabul, Ghazni, and Bagram while in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War. After returning from the war, he became involved in supporting the Soviet space program as a flight surgeon and medical researcher at the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems. He subsequently emigrated from Russia to the United States in 1995. Since then, he has worked in various capacities as an international space medicine consultant in support of NASA.

12 Responses to “Oleg Novinkov”

  1. Oleg Novinkov
    “It was the Afghan government that invited the Soviet
    military to help them stabilize the internal situation.”

    Not so, for as it was for the Soviet military then, so it is for the NATO troops now, a classic civil war with both the Soviets and NATO butchering the laboring-class so the rich ruling class can keep their wealth and power.

  2. Was he really saying that ? It sounded to me that he was simply telling us what the Soviet propaganda had indoctrinated the people to believe at that time and as a citizen and soldier he also believed it. He does seem to believe that the Russians actually wanted to do some good for the people of Afghanistan and not simply to 'conquer land for the empire'. I can recall back then that on US media we were told that Russians were not popular because they tried to introduce 'radical reforms' such as education of girls etc. The US used this to stir up religious animosity against the invaders, that much is true. And of course today we claim we are only trying to save Afghan women from their unjust religious suppression. Either way he does say that it was a fatal mistake for Russia to invade.

  3. Wikipedia: "The Afghan government, having secured a treaty in December 1978 that allowed them to call on Soviet forces, repeatedly requested the introduction of troops in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 1979."

  4. Afghanistan = Talaban.

  5. I'd have asked Oleg whether samizdat literature played any role in informing Soviet occupation forces during the 1980's, and if so what does he consider it's impact to have been?

  6. Yes, and it could be an equally fatal mistake. For Empire USA, for the three Empires of Russia, China and USA have carved up the world into three parts and unless our Empire stops its global expansion we are headed for a world-wide confrontation.

  7. To John, Roger and Mick:
    Yes, I believe that in the beginning of 1980s there was a friendly Soviet help to Afghan people, like brother to brother… Unfortunately, the Soviets had found themselves in the middle of the Afghan bloody civil war for power. The USSR – Afghanistan war happened and lasted for more that 9 years because of the international situation existing in the end of 1970s and the military and political realities of cold war between the two social and economic systems. Millions of Soviet and Afghan people were held hostage in that conflict.
    The truth during the Soviet war in Afghanistan for the Soviet citizens was reported in a selective way, in carefully measured, but little doses. The "samizdat", – the prohibited for the Soviet society literature, did not change the political climate at that time, but some citizens started think differently about the Soviet ideology issues.

  8. [...] Click here for the full interview [...]

  9. John Pilger's take is the one that mostly conforms to what I know about Afghanistan in the 70's. He points out that the PDPA government achieved free medical care for it's poorest people, and that feudalism and peonage were greatly reduced.
    A mass literary campaign was also initiated.
    According to Pilger, at the peak of this revolutionary period in Afghanistan's history, half of the country's university students were women, who also made up 40% of Afghanistan's doctors, 70% of its teachers, and 30% of its civil servants. This in the 1970's.
    Land redistribution also appears to have most crucially taken place during this period.
    The civil war appears to have come about because all of these changes pissed off the mullahs. These are the people who not only own most or all of the good land in Afghanistan, but also claim to have a hot line to God, and so this is all too easy to see how such a situation might bring a civil war on.
    Disgusting therefore that our masters in the West chose to support the bad guys.
    The ironic parallels with our own existence today ought to be considered in this light, in my opinion. Boomerangs indeed.
    Thank you for your perspective Oleg Novinkov and I look forward to reading your book.

  10. Planet earth — Could all things evolve toward the good?

    If our greedy Empire had not sabotaged the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, would the Afghans be enjoying a fair and just Muslim government? And the Russian brand of communism, would it have evolved toward perfection and be putting our disaster capitalism to shame?

  11. "If our greedy Empire had not sabotaged the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, would the Afghans be enjoying a fair and just Muslim government?"
    Most likely, the civil war would have just drug on longer with the same outcome for the Soviets. The fact that foreigners were helping the Afghan communists is what discredited them in the eyes of the average Afghani. Just like the US government helping Karzai is what delegitimizes his government today.

    "And the Russian brand of communism, would it have evolved toward perfection and be putting our disaster capitalism to shame?"
    Nope. Because communism is fatally flawed economically. It cant work because there is no workable way to centrally manage supply, predict demand, and set accurate pricing. Centrally management of an economy is the ultimate in hubris.

    While I deplore the crony capitalism of our military industrial complex, free market capitalism has given us a standard of living for the average person better than what the kings who ruled our ancestors enjoyed.

  12. If Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the US would not provide "help" to militants, the situation in Afghanistan could be different:
    1.Even in 1980, through the efforts of the UN, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to talk about the withdrawal of Soviet troops temporarily stationed in Afghanistan. Also, in 1982, Y. Andropov, the Soviet leader, talked to the president of Pakistan about the new flexible Soviet policy to resolve the Afghan crisis. Andropov, long before others, realized the error of Soviet participation in Afghan war. But Soviet opponents sabotaged all UN and Soviet efforts, that is why the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan happened in 1989, but not 8 years earlier.
    2. The year 1986 could be a turning point not only in Afghanistan history, but also in the history of the world as well. M. Najibullah became the Afghan leader. Majority of Afghan people supported his new strategy, which was intended to end the internal conflict in Afghanistan – a policy of national reconciliation. It was a special kind of political compromise – ending the war and forming a coalition government that included some leaders of the armed opposition. He was confident that the Soviets would withdrawal their troops and back him up. Moreover, at that time militants were not longer united. The hunger for peace dominated the whole country. But the global confrontation between the US and USSR was the main reason for continuing the Afghan conflict.
    Some people consider that capitalism, as a system, has been evolving for many years; it was a self-destructive process as a result of not updating the ideological, economic, and political issues of the capitalist system. The socialistic system was destroyed without any serious attempt to improve it. I am not talking about the replacement of current Wall Street casino – harmful for humans credit system sick capitalist model with a Marxist model, but some regulations would be very healthy. To avoid the political and economical catastrophe and the collapse of the US, smart people should take the advantage of capitalism and socialism systems – take the best and create the new 21st century model (in my book I called it Novism) – understandable and acceptable for the majority of the US citizens. If the leaders will wait too long, the US will get the other …ism model.

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