Memories of the Mekong

Robert Fisk

  • The Struggle for Afghanistan by Nancy Newell and Richard Newell
    Cornell, 236 pp, £9.00, August 1981, ISBN 0 8014 1389 3
  • Afghanistan by John Griffiths
    Deutsch, 225 pp, £7.95, June 1981, ISBN 0 233 97350 8

Soviet troops are not instinctive, rapacious killers nor are they the political descendants of Genghis Khan. The soldiers who put me on board their convoy in the snows of the Hindu Kush last year were polite, confused, under-trained, frustrated, pathetically anxious to appear civilised in a country whose people wanted to kill them. We had already been ambushed by the Mojaheddin north of Charikar and when we had been driving southwards for another five hours, the convoy commander sitting next to me in the Soviet Army truck asked me if I liked Afghanistan. It was a beautiful country, I replied with a journalist’s discretion. But what did he think of the Afghans?

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