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Afghanistan

January 03, 1985

We are now marking the fifth anniversary of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. After only five years, are the people who have battled the full military might of the Soviet Union to a standstill, alone to be totally abandoned? Is the pawn, Afghanistan, so small in the game of geopolitical chess that it is to be sacrificed with indifference?

Clearly, there are geopolitical realities that must be acknowledged. Afghanistan lies in the heart of an unstable region on the U.S.S.R.'s border. Direct involvement would be very dangerous. But does the United States want to send the message that the Soviets can invade countries of their choosing with impunity?

Afghanistan is not potentially another Vietnam. The Afghans are a fiercely independent people who want nothing but the means to continue to resist. But after five years, the Soviet policy of destroying farmland is paying off, and the resistance is being starved out. The Afghans desperately need medical and military aid, particularly anti-aircraft missiles, and our support for their struggle in the world community if they are to carry on.

However desireable the emerging mood of conciliation between the United States and the Soviet Union is, let's not forget Afghanistan. We have seen rapprochement before after Hungary and Czechoslovakia when the U.S.S.R. needed to recuperate for reasons of its own. The United States would be wise to help resist Soviet expansion in Afghanistan while beginning to talk as the U.S.S.R. did while supplying the North Vietnamese.

ERIC CATO

Los Angeles

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