Statement on the Situation in Afghanistan

December 27, 1981

Our current concern regarding Poland should not cause us to forget that 2 years ago today, massive Soviet military forces invaded the sovereign country of Afghanistan and began an attempt to subjugate one of the most fiercely independent peoples of the world. Despite the presence of 90,000 Soviet combat troops, a recent increase of some 5,000, the courageous people of Afghanistan have fought back. Today they effectively deny Soviet forces control of most of Afghanistan. Efforts by the Soviets to establish a puppet government in the Soviet image, which could govern a conquered land, have failed. Soviet control extends little beyond the major cities, and even there the Afghan freedomfighters often hold sway by night and sometimes even by day. The battle for Afghan independence continues.

But the gallant efforts of the people of Afghanistan to regain their independence have come at great cost. Almost 3 million Afghan refugees, a fifth of the pre-invasion population of Afghanistan, have fled their homes and have taken refuge across the border, largely in Pakistan. Those who have remained at home have become the unfortunate victims not only of the dislocations of war but also of indiscriminate Soviet attacks on civilians. So, while we express our admiration for those who fight for the freedom we all cherish, we must also express our deep sympathy for those innocent victims of Soviet imperialism who, because of the love of freedom of their countrymen, have been forced to flee for their lives.

On three separate occasions, most recently on November 18, 1981, the United Nations General Assembly passed by overwhelming margins resolutions aimed at Soviet aggression in Afghanistan. The U.S. Government and the American people join in the broad international condemnation of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Just as in Poland we see the use of intimidation and indirect use of power to subjugate a neighboring people, in Afghanistan we see direct aggression in violation of the United Nations Charter and other principles governing the conduct among nations.

While extending our admiration and sympathy to the people of Afghanistan, we also call upon the Soviet Union to avail itself of proposals set forth by the community of nations for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan so that an independent and nonaligned nation can be reestablished with a government responsive to the desires of the people, so that the millions of Afghans who have sought refuge in other countries can return with honor to their homes. As long as the Soviet Union occupies Afghanistan in defiance of the international community, the heroic Afghan resistance will continue, and the United States will support the cause of a free Afghanistan.