Anyway, I was halfway through writing a line-by-line comparison of the two wars, to mark the purported end of the
The inital stages of both invasions seem to have been quite different, for instance. The Soviet Union was asked to intervene by an illegitimate government of incompetent local proxies whom it then spent the war propping up, while also repressing resistence by a bunch of poorly-armed militiamen and cave-dwelling terrorists on the thin pretext of ending Afghanistan's civil war.
The US, meanwhile, invaded on the thin pretext of chasing a bunch of poorly-armed militiamen and cave-dwelling terrorists, before installing and propping up a thoroughly legitimate government of incompetent local proxies and making it ask the US to intervene, while also attempting to repress a vicious insurgency.
Additionally, it's worth noting that the Soviets attempted to impose a half-arsed version of their own communist political system upon Afghanistan, instituting huge economic and social programmes that directly caused many of the Afghan people to rise in open rebellion against the occupation.
The US on the other hand opened up the Afghan economy, assisted in the creation of a half-arsed variation upon Jeffersonian democracy, and helped institute huge economic and social changes that were violently opposed by Afghan murderers and criminals.
The Soviets responded to Afghan resistence with mass incarceration, executions, torture and massive bombing campaigns. The US responded to terrorist atrocities by arresting thousands of people suspected of involvement in criminal activities and subjecting them to enhanced interrogation, and with surgical airstrikes on suspected extremist strongholds and wedding parties.
Domestically, the Soviets' system of state repression was able to suppress any kind of anti-war opposition of consequence by forbidding a free press and public demonstrations of dissent. The people of the USSR were only ever told that their government's cause was right and just, and that their enemies were motivated by evil.
No such oppressive systems were necessary in the free capitalist world, where private and public news sources are permitted to publish such materials as they choose without restraint. Thus the people of the United States were told that their government's cause was right and just, and the evil motivations of their enemies were detailed by a free press, with the end result that no anti-war opposition of consequence ever emerged.
In the USSR, military casualties were hushed up. In the free world, military casualties were given widespread press attention, provided they had owned a cute dog or been married to a hot woman. The USSR prevented dissent by hiding the war's casualties away in crumbling medical facilities. The free world put injured soldiers on prime-time television and launched charity drives to help pay for their medical care.
In the end, the USSR ended its needless aggression against Afghanistan after being driven out by people who hated them and everything that they stood for, and were willing to sacrifice scads of their own lives to rid their nation of foreign occupiers.
The US now theoretically withdraws from its vitally important security operation having been prevented from achieving many of its laudible goals by murderers, yet still feeling intense pride at its many achievements.
Like I say, I can't recall whether I ever predicted a repeat of the USSR's Afghan follies but if I ever did, I hereby apologise for my foolishness.
On a side note - I've been playing a bit of the strategy computer game Rome: Total War recently. Having become Emperor and conquered most of the known world, I sent an army deep into Scythia on a whim - there's nothing worth attacking up there but I did it anyway, for want of anything better to do.
The Scythians aren't particularly good warriors but my army, far from reinforcement or resupply, was slowly ground down by repeated assaults. With little hope of achieving anything of note and growing bored with the enterprise, I disbanded the army and turned my computer off.
I'm not sure why that anecdote sprung to mind in the context of the ISAF occupation of Afghanistan but it did, so here it is.