Is Afghanistan set to be the stumbling block for yet another superpower? In Afghan Boomerang: Notes of a Soviet Officer, Oleg Novinkov contends that the backlash from the U.S. war in Afghanistan (now ten years and counting) may well be a collapse similar to that which he witnessed in the former USSR in the wake of its own expensive and protracted conflict in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Novinkov lends a unique perspective to discussion of the past and present geopolitics of Afghanistan. Born and raised in the former Soviet Union, he is now a naturalized citizen of the United States. More importantly, he is a military veteran of the bloody Soviet/Afghan War, which stretched from 1979 to 1989. Early in that war, Novinkov was deployed in Afghan combat zones as a Soviet Air Force flight surgeon.
Afghan Boomerang is brimful with interesting reading, a special cocktail of memories, history, opinion, and warning. The writing is lively and authentic, laced with over-the-top sarcasm, long-winded at times, but never dull.
Any American concerned with the implications of our long occupation of Afghanistan (and Iraq) should read this memoir. Factors leading to the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and the consequences for the Soviet military and general citizenry are illuminating. Remnants of Cold War era stereotypes are challenged. Firsthand accounts of life in the Afghan combat zone will be of special interest to present day veterans.
Novinkov recently revisited Afghanistan. “When I returned from my trip to Afghanistan…I experienced the same feelings as when I returned to the USSR from the Soviet-Afghan War. Nobody cared what was going on in the war zone then, in [the] Soviet Union, and now, in the U.S.” Persuading an American public desensitized by ten years of war to care, and American politicians to listen, is not an easy task. Ironically, a former Soviet medical officer is trying to do just that.
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