East-West No More Mr. Tough Guy?

The Afghanistan pullout is part of a slick new Soviet diplomatic offensive

At muster points in besieged garrison towns around Afghanistan, sentries in camouflage uniforms guard mounds of duffel bags, stripped-down weapons and communications gear. The streets teem with jeeps, armored personnel carriers, trucks, tanks, half-tracks, command cars, vans, ambulances. The vehicles are the beasts of burden for a caravan of retreat and defeat that will begin this week to wend its way through the rugged passes of the Hindu Kush, north toward home along the Salang Highway, which stretches from Kabul to the Soviet border. The road was a "gift" from the U.S.S.R. to the people of Afghanistan in the 1960s. Western...

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