‘We Don’t Need a Smoking Gun’: U.S. Provocations and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

For Fellow Travelers, I review the latest historiography on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It argues—successfully, in my view—that, contrary to popular criticism, Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski did not seek to “trap” the Soviets in an “Afghan quagmire.” But, crucially, this does not absolve Washington of responsibility for the violence unleashed in Afghanistan over the next decade. Even if policymakers did not want a Soviet invasion, their actions produced that result nevertheless.