October 9th, 2009
02:48 PM ET
5 years ago

Charlie Wilson on Obama's war

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Rep. Charlie Wilson, who led Congress into supporting a covert plan to help Afghan militias fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s, said Thursday that he would support President Obama in whatever he decides to do in Afghanistan.

Wilson, whose playboy lifestyle and efforts in Afghanistan inspired a book and a movie, called "Charlie Wilson's War," said the worst mistake made was not helping to rebuild the war-torn country after the Russians left.

"That was a terrible mistake," Wilson said during a speech on Thursday night in Scranton, Pennsylvania. "Had we spent that $20 million or $30 million for the entirety of the problem, we wouldn't be spending $20 or $30 million an hour today."

Wilson said in an interview with the Scranton Times Tribune on Tuesday that it is "best to make a calculated withdrawal" and said that if he were in Obama's position, he would "probably shut it down, rather than lose a lot of soldiers and treasure."

But during his speech, he backed off those comments and said he will support Obama in his decision on whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan.

"It is a terrible decision for the president," Wilson said. He added, "We're going to wait for the president to make a decision and I'm going to try to support that decision."


Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their foolishness.

    Amen Brother, you are so correct then we would never have had Osama Bin Laden to contend with. We made him during that war then moved awsay from him and the Afghan's leaving them in a state of ill repair. We did it just to spite the Russians and not for the good of the Afghan people. I am sick of our Great Government system. And I devoted my life to it serving in the military for thirty years. I whole lot wiser now after knowing what our Uncle Sam was up to.

    October 9, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. D.

    Charlie Wilson will get his Nobel price for peace next year! Hurraahhhh!

    October 9, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Clay

    Well said, Charlie. If only the republicans would listen to you instead of running around instantly condemning everything Obama does, irregardless of the posttive affect his actions may have for world peace or rebuilding the once prosperous country that Bush and his fellow republicans destroyed...

    October 9, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Charlie

    Afghanistan is Bush's neglected war, CNN.. Obama is just trying to clean up Bush's mess.. again.

    October 9, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    The Bush family was seen to be friends with Osama Bin Laden. No wonder King George didn't want to get him. W was probably "paid off".

    October 9, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. J.P.

    Wilson said, "We're going to wait for the president to make a decision [on Afghanistan] and I'm going to try to support that decision."

    Uh, don't hold your breath there Charlie, waiting on Obama to make a decision... the people in Illinois are STILL waiting.

    Present Barack Obama... oops, I meant "presIDent"

    October 9, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Keith

    Charlie Wilson is a smart man, too bad we didn't listen to him back then...

    October 9, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. Tim

    Charlie Wilson rocks!!!!

    October 9, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Ice Girl 28

    How is this "Obama's War"? If you want to assign ownership to an American President, you're a year or so too late! In any case, it's OUR war now – Bush got us into it and we all have to pay with our Nation's reputation, it's money and the lives of its citizens. People should think about that BEFORE they allow their leaders to invade other countries without reason. Maybe if we had committed the resources lost in Iraq to Afghanistan earlier, we wouldn't still be in this mess and our President wouldn't be faced with such a "terrible decision".

    October 9, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Larry

    Charlie Wilson's a smart man–Time to get out of Afghanistan.

    October 9, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Not Right or Left but Forward

    From a guy whose message was lost. He is correct in many respects – the job is now far more difficult than it was years ago. More people should recognize that the decisions cannot be made hastily, and should consider the consequences carefully. Failing to do so has led us to where we are now.

    October 9, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Censorship in Practice form at CNN--S Callahan NYS

    Getting out now is really not an option...you are dealing with the lives of innocent people that we are there to help. The decisve factor is what is the best way to help. Training of the natives for their own defense should be priority...support to their families/ communities is another...that alone is worth hundred of thousand's of bullets that wouldn't need to be fired. There seems to be lots of confusion of the role of AlQ and Tali's....that has to be clarified....from across the ocean persepctive it seems intertwined...a cord that should be broken.

    October 9, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. r curtis

    I saw the movie, and afterward I could not escape the feeling that we should have let the Russians (Soviets) keep the country. I would not be surprised if the new Russians are helping the Taliban in order to get even with us, the same way we helped the Taliban.

    October 9, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. sagin

    The heading is so lamentable; how is this Obama's war unless ofcourse "Lauren" is the nick name for Lou as in Dobbs?:):)

    October 9, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. DF - Toronto

    Finally, there is someone who is thinking logically and makes great sense. This war probably would have been over, had Bush kept his eyes on the ball and continued to clean up in Afghanistan and not be talked into a very stupid war in Iraq.

    The state of the US economy would not be in the condition that it is in today.

    October 9, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Farrell in Houston

    As I watch news and see our soldiers in the Middle East, I always ask myself "what the H.." are we doing way over there when we have the means to fight from our own soil. This war is becoming more and more senseless to me and I do support Obama but it's not about that to me anymore.

    October 9, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Dave From Philly

    Obama is going to be blamed for this mess if we stay or pull out. The best thing to do is what the Russian did. Leave.

    October 9, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. lefty loosy

    Obama's war , Obama's Nobel peace prize.Just like Carter, Obama gets something for a lot of glib talk , no substance.
    Afghanistan should be over soon when he gives up , sucks up to
    the terrorists. What a joke of a President , this guy even makes Bush look good and that is really hard to do.

    October 9, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  19. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Yep, The BUSHwacher got us into Afganistan...but since He was supposed to have been a history major at Yale, he apparently did not read the part where the Brits pulled out in the 19th century/early 20th because they could do anything either....You notice the Brits did NOT go into AFgan, only Iraq.

    October 9, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Jimbo

    Sending troops into battle is a hard decision for any president. But it's only one decision among many: If we're going to send them, how many, what will be their mission, how do we define victory, when do they come home? If we're not going to send them, what will be the cost to America's security, relationships with allies, perceptions of our enemies, reputation, national pride, etc? If we do nothing, will our troops be killed gradually and how can that be acceptable politically, militarily or morally.

    October 9, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. victim of republican greed

    Didn't Bush proclaim victory over the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan on June 5, 2004?

    October 9, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. j

    Michael M.,

    It seems you are as good at studying current events as you think Bush was at history. I have worked inside one of the British command posts in Afghanistan. The Brits have made a big contribution there.

    October 9, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Alisa

    In case you weren't aware Michael from AZ, the Brits ARE in Afghanistan.

    October 9, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. vic nashville , Tn

    Republican’s congress Republican’s president went to the war

    They didn’t have plan B or C or D

    So ignore what ever they say now

    October 9, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. ICARE

    Hey, we shot ourselves in the foot!! What comes areound, goes around!! Never look down on poor countries! Always make friends!!!

    October 9, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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