Statement on the Fourth Anniversary of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

December 27, 1983

While Americans are thankful for the blessing of peace at home this holiday season, we do not forget that the tragic war in Afghanistan continues. For 4 long years the Soviet Union has occupied that unhappy land. But for 4 long years the brave Afghan people have held the might of a Soviet occupation force at bay. These Islamic fighters in a faraway land have given new meaning to the words ``courage,'' ``determination,'' and ``strength.'' They have set the standard for those who value freedom and independence everywhere in the world.

Afghanistan's freedom fighters -- the resistance or mujahidin -- represent an indigenous movement that swept through their mountainous land to challenge a foreign military power threatening their religion and their very way of life. With little in the way of arms or organization, the vast majority of the Afghan people have demonstrated that they will not be dominated and that they are prepared to give their lives for independence and freedom. The price they have so willingly paid is incalculable.

While we will continue to do our part to maintain and improve the U.S.-Soviet dialog, we cannot remain silent on the tragedy of Afghanistan. There should be no misunderstanding that the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan has created serious international tensions. It is not only the Afghan themselves who oppose the Soviet occupation of their country but virtually the entire world community. This has been demonstrated time and again in five consecutive votes of the United Nations General Assembly, when resounding majorities of the world's nations called upon the Soviet Union to end its occupation and restore the independence and nonaligned status of Afghanistan. In fact the most recent U.N. resolution was adopted on November 23 by the largest vote yet: 116 to 20.

Early this year, I had the privilege of receiving in my office a group of six Afghan freedom fighters. I was moved by their simple dignity and pride and their determination to continue their struggle for independence. These brave individuals have returned to the fight.

The struggle for a free Afghanistan continues. This is not because of any outside manipulation, but because of the Afghan people's own desire to be free. And their struggle will continue until a negotiated political settlement can be found to allow the Afghan people to determine their own destiny.

Our goal is to do everything we can to help bring about a peaceful solution which removes the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, ends the agony and destruction of the Afghan nation, and restores that country's independence and nonalignment. Clearly, a neutral and nonaligned Afghanistan would not be a threat to its huge Soviet neighbor.

Thus, we mark the fourth anniversary of the Soviet invasion with sadness and continued indignation. But we are convinced that a settlement is possible, and we are glad that consultations in the U.N. process of indirect talks will go on. We call upon the Soviet Union to reach a settlement of the crisis which restores the freedom, independence, and nonalignment of Afghanistan.

Let all of us who live in lands of freedom, along with those who dream of doing so, take inspiration from the spirit and courage of the Afghan patriots. Let us resolve that their quest for freedom will prevail, and that Afghanistan will become, once again, an independent member of the family of nations.