Recently, I have been receiving many calls from journalists who want me to discuss what lessons, if any, the United States can learn from the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. It troubles me, however, that I am being asked time and again about the same technical details: is it possible to find bin Laden with tips from local informers; what kind of bombs might be used to penetrate caves; or about the hiking boots required in Afghanistan, where the special troops would be fighting literally on equal footing with their foes.
The journalists listen more or less patiently—and invariably cut from their articles—my seemingly irrelevant observations about General Ruslan Aushev, who is arguably the most distinguished Soviet war hero in Afghanistan and himself a Muslim from Russia’s North Caucasus. Now, however, Aushev’s experience in and especially after Afghanistan seems strikingly relevant. If we are to defeat Al Qaeda permanently then we must seriously consider the example of this Soviet Muslim soldier who learned in Afghanistan to fight the disaster of all-out war. […]