Firstly that creating a modern society by brute force certainly didn't work first time round, if wikipedia is at all accurate. Apparently :
Once in power, the PDPA implemented a socialist agenda. It moved to replacing traditional and islamic sharia laws with secular ones. Men were now not obliged to wear beards, women to wear a burqa, and mosques were placed off limits. It carried out an ambitious land reform, waiving farmers' debts countrywide and abolishing usury - intended to release the poorer farmers from debt bondage.
At the time, infant mortality was 269 per thousand, average life expectancy just 35 years and about 90% of the population were illiterate. Free emergency medical care was introduced. A mass literacy campaign was begun, 5000 unemployed university graduates being recruited as teachers. By the end of 1979, 600 new schools had been built, many of them in rural areas, and up to 500,000 adult Afghans were attending basic literacy classes (another 500,000 had enrolled but dropped out). Working hours were reduced, low-paid workers were given higher wages and trade unions were legalised for the first time in Afghanistan's history.
In late 1978, Nur Mohammad Taraki, President of the Revolutionary Council of Afghanistan, promulgated Decree #7 which aimed at a transformation of the marriage institution by attacking its traditional monetary basis and promoting equality between men and women.
The government also made a number of other decrees on women’s rights, banning forced marriages, giving state recognition of women’s right to vote, and introducing women to political life. Women took leadership positions in the regime and fought social conservatives and islamic extremists on various issues. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous New Kabul Times editorial (May 28, 1978) which declared: “Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country .... Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention.”
A programme to warm any Guardianista's heart, and even Laban's pretty keen on a lot of it. Not sure what that 'mosques off limits' bit meant though. How did they go about overcoming political opposition ? Oh. I see. Even unity might think twice about this - wouldn't he ?
The destruction of Afghanistan's former ruling elite had begun immediately after the seizure of power. Execution (Parcham leaders later claimed at least 11,000 during the Taraki/Amin period), flight into exile, and later the devastation of Kabul itself would literally remove the great majority of the some 100,000 who had come to form Afghanistan's elite and middle class. Their loss almost completely broke the continuity of Afghanistan's leadership, political institutions and their social foundation...
The Khalq leadership proved incapable of filling this vacuum. Its brutal and clumsy attempts to introduce radical changes in control over agricultural land holding and credit, rural social relations, marriage and family arrangements, and education led to scattered protests and uprisings among all major communities in the Afghan countryside. Taraki and Amin left a legacy of turmoil and resentment which gravely compromised later Marxist attempts to win popular acceptance.The human rights violations of the Khalq extended beyond the educated elite. Between April 1978 and the Soviet invasion of December 1979, Afghan Communists executed an estimated 27,000 political prisoners at Pul-i-Charki prison six miles east of Kabul. Many of the victims were village mullahs and headmen who were obstructing the modernization and secularization of the intensely religious Afghan countryside. The Khalq leadership introduced to Afghanistan the "knock on the door in the middle of the night", previously little known in that country, where the central government usually lacked the power to enforce its will beyond Kabul.
Well, it worked for Stalin, didn't it ? But the Russian people were accustomed over centuries to autocratic despotism. The Afghan tradition was one of heavily armed local autonomy. Results - teachers and doctors were shot, schools and clinics burned, power lines brought down. Heroic Man 1, Economic Man 0 (n.b. - that doesn't mean I think it's heroic to shoot teachers and doctors).
So repression on a pretty hefty scale - and by their own people - didn't work. The Allies aren't capable of that kind of represssion, not would I want them to be. So that's out. Trouble is, the Afghans - especially the Pashtun - look on non-violent persuasion as weakness. And they don't like infidels. And they're great fighters. With some nasty lines in the mutilation and torture department. As I say, it's like trying to introduce democracy to 14th century England.
The other thing. In the comments, 'Revolution Harry' pointed out to 'gradualist Laban' that while Reagan and Thatcher certainly armed the mujahideen fighters, the whole thing was kicked off by Jimmy Carter.
On July 3, 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order authorizing the CIA to conduct covert propaganda operations against the communist regime.What's particularly striking is that Zbigniew Brzezinski isn't some forgotten Cold Warrior of the past - far from it. He's apparently one of Barack Obama's closest advisers.
Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated "According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting U.S. policy, which, unbeknownst even to the mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled:
We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would...That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap...The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.
Additionally, on July 3, 1979, U.S. President Carter signed a presidential finding authorizing funding for anticommunist guerrillas in Afghanistan. As a part of the Central Intelligence Agency program Operation Cyclone, the massive arming of Afghanistan's mujahideen was started.