Misplaced Optimism Despite

U.S. help, the mujahedin are gaining little ground

When the last of the Soviet Union's 115,000 troops rumbled out of Afghanistan last February, the common wisdom saw it as a whimpering finale to Moscow's Viet Nam. Surely it would be only a matter of time -- months at most -- before the collapse of the Kabul government led by President Najibullah, the weak puppet left in place by the withdrawing Soviets. Succeeding him would be an interim government composed of seven U.S.- and Pakistan-backed mujahedin factions.

So much for conventional wisdom. This week, when Secretary of State James Baker flies to Moscow for talks with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze,...

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