01 September 2010

Second Time Around


Among the 15 foreign troops killed in the last two days in Afghanistan was also a 20-year-old Estonian sergeant. A reminder that in Afghanistan find themselves also those who should really know better. Many Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Azeris and Armenians conscripted to the Soviet Army took part in the Soviet War in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now their governments send their troops to fight in the American War in Afghanistan. Troops which sometimes have personal experience of the Soviet War. Estonia specifically suffered eight dead so far in this war, while 17 Estonians were killed in the Soviet one. The others have combined suffered only one fatality owing to the fact that they are stationed in the north of the country that does not see much fighting.

One has to be critical of the participation of the Baltic countries in the occupation in particular. They maintain that their nearly fifty-year experience in the Soviet Union was intensely negative. And they refer to this episode of their history as the period of "Soviet occupation" to be better able to convey just how negative they feel it was. Jet their governments were anxious to take part in occupations of Afghanistan, of Kosovo, of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Iraq. Is there something that makes them think they have more right to send their troops into these lands than the Soviet Union had to send its into theirs?

Additionally, was not local boys dying in distant Afghanistan for no good reason one part of the intensely negative Soviet experience? What has changed?

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