November 8th, 2009
05:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Gorbachev gives Obama advice on Afghanistan

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Sunday that he does not think President Obama should send additional troops to Afghanistan.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Sunday that he does not think President Obama should send additional troops to Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) – As the American public and the global community await the completion of the Obama administration’s extensive review of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, said Sunday that, instead of sending more troops, Obama should begin to the lay the groundwork to withdraw from Afghanistan.

“I think that what’s needed is not additional forces,” the former Soviet leader said through a translator, “this is something that we discussed, too, years ago but we decided not to do it. And I think our experience deserves attention.”

WATCH: The entire Gorbachev interview

Instead of more troops, Gorbachev said the Soviets decided to emphasize domestic development in Afghanistan and promoting national reconciliation between the various clans in the country. In deciding how to proceed in Afghanistan, Gorbachev said the Soviet Union also consulted with other countries including the United States, Iran, Pakistan, and India.

Soviet troops occupied Afghanistan in 1979. They withdrew a decade later after facing stiff resistance from Afghan fighters, who were backed by the United States and Pakistan. The conflict killed 13,000 Soviet soldiers and more than a million Afghan civilians.

But the former world leader added that Afghanistan’s history as a staging ground for international terrorism could not be ignored.

“Of course, when we are facing a dangerous concentration of terrorism – and we see that in this situation – certainly, terrorists must be defeated. But the overall emphasis must be on dialogue, on the revival of Iraq, probably Afghanistan – of the long-suffering people of that country.

“Yes, withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the goal,” Gorbachev said in conclusion.

For more than a month, Obama has been conducting meetings with his top military and foreign policy advisers about how to proceed in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country has reportedly requested 40,000 additional troops. The Obama administration says it has no plans to reduce U.S. force levels in Afghanistan.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Extra • Popular Posts • President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. victim of republican greed

    Well this advice is going to anger the draft dodging war mongers on the extreme right.

    November 8, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. victim of republican greed

    Maybe it would be OK with the wingnuts if we attacked another country, like Grenada, if we decided to withdraw from Afghanistan.

    November 8, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Emma

    This is Bush's unfinished war. The concern should be whether it would be worth the fight to stay there. Would it translate to the overthrow of terrorists?

    November 8, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. proud mother and sister of soldiers

    Isn't it questionalbe when the Russian leader we helped Afghanistan fight against offers our president advise? Of course, Obama is not the least bit suspect of Putin nor seems to be aware of the changes within Russia over the past several years to the Russia of "old". Let's be buddies and let down the guard. History always does repeat itself and will again. God help the world with Obama as our leader.

    November 8, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Joe

    This is ubelievable, The Soviets were pushing domestic reconciliation?? Revisionist history indeed. I guess if you call carpet bombing, domestic reconciliation then OK

    November 8, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. mike.texas

    Great advice I hope Obama takes it.

    November 8, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. unshrub

    Cheney's advice is to lie to the people and when the facts don't fit, change the facts.

    November 8, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Willy Brown

    From one socialist to another.

    November 8, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. DL Wilson

    It has been seven years and all we have to show for it is another quagmire. We can't build a miltary infrastructure because we are seen as occupiers, and we can't build a strong central government where there never has been one and the people don't want it and don't trust it anyway - nor should they. We can control the terrorism from bases in or near their base camps. We're still talking about a stateless bunch of hillbillies, after all, not a credible armed force with serious weapons. We need to stop pouring money into that land that time forgot and rebuild our own precarious economy.

    November 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. zap01

    I say get out. Go after terrorists only and GET OUT! What purpose would it serve to stay?

    November 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. annie s

    Listen to him, Mr. President. This is not a war we can win, and we can not afford more lives – or more money – in a never ending conflict. Bring our troops home and use our resources to protect our homeland from within.

    November 8, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. JonDie

    We Americans are not smart enough to learn from the experience of others.

    November 8, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Ilya

    I agree with Mister Gorbachev, we need to get out of there, there are no benefits in keeping our troops in Afganistan.

    November 8, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. B

    If Obama is smart, he will listen to Gorbachev. How many more Thousands of people have to get killed trying to build a Western idea in the middle of a two thousand year old culture that hates everything we stand for!
    Besides the fact that we can not spend another Trillion of Chinese backing that future generations will get stuck with..

    It could be Obama’s biggest mistake to continue, and derail all of the Great "Change" plans ,and reelection.

    November 8, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Mickey

    Yeah, great...and just how did that whole Afghanistan thingie work out for you, Gorby?

    Get lost...

    November 8, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. MARK

    The longer Obama stalls, the more American soldiers get killed. Shame on Obama!!!

    November 8, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Chipster

    Is he kidding? The Soviets failed miserably. Why would we take advice from them? Perhaps more troops would make a difference but the problem is this: where will we find those troops. Thanks to the mindless decision to divert resources to Iraq and stubborn refusal to initiate the Draft, our soldiers have served 3 to 4 tours each. They need relief forces but none are available. We need more recruits but I don't see long lines of patriotic Americans volunteering.

    November 8, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. phoenix86

    Obama will continue to "study" his options until someone else makes the decision for him. That is the Obama method of governing.

    November 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. floridian

    Remember, the Soviets still want to be the dominant power in Central Asia and certainly would welcome us leaving a vacuum for them to fill. Would you trust his advice?

    November 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Ted

    Since we can't "Tear Down Those Mountains" we may as well bring
    our troops Home.

    November 8, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Ledia

    I really wish that Pres. Obama does not send any more troops to Afghanistan.

    November 8, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  22. New Yorker

    So, let's see how this will pan out. We he listen to General McChrystal or Gorbachev? Undoubtedly a tough decision for him.

    November 8, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Kwame Boateng

    The original goal of the Afghan mission was to remove the Taliban from power and to deny Al Qaeda safe havens. Somewhere along the way, we allowed the neo-ceonservatives in George Bush's administration to change the mission to one of bringing political, and social liberalism to an otherwise very conservative country.Tthat was a strategic blunder which has had serious geo-political implications. As a fellow liberal, I understand where the neo-cons are coming from, however Idealism need not be in conflict with reality! We can never liberalize this stone age society, our best hope is as Mr Gorbachev advises: bring the clans together, encourage economic development, and negotiate with the moderate Taliban, convincing them to abandon terror and offer them a place in the government.

    November 8, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. fortydammer

    Even most of our military experts are telling us that it will be a major mistake to stay. Ten years from now it will not be resolved. This will run longer than that other ugly mistake in southeast Asia. Both of Bush's wars have destabilized the entire middle east.

    November 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Joe

    Right advice. Obama needs to put his Nobel Peace Prize at work.

    November 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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