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What If? What if the Soviets never invaded Afghanistan?
#1
In 1978, the government of Afghanistan was overthrown by communists, in what was known as the Saur Revolution. The new communist regime proved to be heavily repressive - and so, anti-government rebellions sprung up in April 1979. In addition to this, the fledgling communist government experienced its own instability - and so, in December 1979, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sent his troops into Afghanistan. Over the next ten years, the Soviet Union and the Afghan government fought against a wide range of insurgents (known as the 'mujahideen'); notably, these included a young Osama bin Laden, and they were backed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the USA. In the end, the Soviet Union was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989 - and then, when bin Laden was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1992, he first fled to Sudan, and then to Afghanistan in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, what if the Soviet invasion in 1979 never happened? Perhaps the Saur Revolution fails - or perhaps it takes place several years later, following Brezhnev's death? The following AlternateHistoryHub video explores this scenario:



Here are the conclusions that Cody draws from his examination of the events:

  • In this timeline, Afghanistan would just be a random, unimportant state in central Asia. It'd basically just continue being what it was prior to 1978: an impoverished nation trying its best to modernise.

  • Assuming that there's still a communist revolution in Afghanistan at some point (say, in 1985, after Gorbachev takes power)... the Soviets wouldn't be able to send their troops in, due to their own mounting internal problems. However, this alone isn't enough to save the USSR: they might be better-equipped to put down rebellions, but they probably aren't sending large numbers of troops into eastern Europe to stop states there from breaking away.

  • The rise of Islamic fundamentalism still takes place, because Wahhabi-funded schools and mosques still exist. Al-Qaeda probably still forms and views the USA as the enemy, for various reasons (they still support Israel; they still send troops into Arabia in the Gulf War; and so on) - the main difference being that bin Laden doesn't have a decade of experience fighting in Afghanistan.

  • Assuming that bin Laden still gets kicked out of Saudi Arabia (which itself isn't a given), he still goes to Sudan - but, where does he go after he gets expelled from there in 1996? There were war-torn countries where he could have set up a new base (e.g. Somalia); however, this wouldn't be ideal for conducting attacks against the USA, since he'd be at the mercy of local militias. Given these circumstances, it's unlikely that an operation such as 9/11 could have taken place.

  • Even if 9/11 does still happen, it's likely that bin Laden's new home nation will at least try to hand him over to the USA. Even if they aren't able to do so, the USA's military response is going to be a smaller-scale one focused specifically on taking out bin Laden: it'll probably be co-ordinated between local governments and the US special forces. It won't consist of the invasion and subsequent rebuilding of an entire nation, like it did with Afghanistan in OTL.

So, is that what would have happened, or do you have other ideas? What else might have happened beyond this?
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#2
I need to strongly disagree, it failed to acknowledged the roll of Wahhabism in most Islamic terrorism groups (and its schools funded by the House of Saud), and fails to even talk about the WTC Bombing in 93, The US Embassy Bombing in 1998 (there is only a small reference) and, the attack of the USS Cole in 2000 among other attacks carried out by Al Qaeda against the US.

The video also assumes that Iran would hand over Bin Laden to the US, given the state of relations between the US and post revolution Iran I find this assumption suspect, Iran *might* capture or otherwise "silence" Bin Laden but I highly doubt Iran would hand him over.

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(11-10-2019, 04:48 PM)Lurker101 Wrote: I need to strongly disagree, it failed to acknowledged the roll of Wahhabism in most Islamic terrorism groups (and its schools funded by the House of Saud),

The video did acknowledge that Wahhabism would still rise as a political force within the region (at 2:58). To be fair, it didn't explicitly acknowledge the House of Saud here - and it wasn't a major part of the video (it was over after 15 seconds) - but it was present.

Quote:and fails to even talk about the WTC Bombing in 93, The US Embassy Bombing in 1998 (there is only a small reference) and, the attack of the USS Cole in 2000 among other attacks carried out by Al Qaeda against the US.

Yeah, I expect the 1993 WTC bombing would still have happened in this universe: none of the changes up to that point in the timeline would have prevented it.

I'm less certain of the 1998 and 2000 attacks (particularly the 2000 one: that depends on how al-Qaeda is doing and whereabouts in the world they're based), but even if they don't happen, some attacks on that sort of scale probably would. (Still, it probably wouldn't be anything on the scale of 9/11, so it probably wouldn't generate the same kind of response)

Still, even if 9/11 as we know it doesn't happen, it's certainly not unreasonable to think that some Islamic terrorist group will eventually conduct a major terrorist attack against the USA... it's only a matter of time, really. The only question is who it'll be (and whether the nation where the perpetrators reside will be willing to work with the USA to eliminate them).

Quote:The video also assumes that Iran would hand over Bin Laden to the US, given the state of relations between the US and post revolution Iran I find this assumption suspect, Iran *might* capture or otherwise "silence" Bin Laden but I highly doubt Iran would hand him over.

To be honest, I really can't see bin Laden basing himself in Iran, since al-Qaeda regards Shi'ites as heretics and is actively hostile towards them. If bin Laden is in Iran at all, it'll be because he's targeting them or because he's been captured and imprisoned by them: he won't be planning any attacks on the West out of there.

Sure, if bin Laden does somehow base himself in Iran, then I don't expect they'll hand him over to the USA. However, they also won't be giving him a safe haven, since he'll probably be the #1 threat to Iran's security (and they won't view bin Laden any more favourably than America does).
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