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. Samuel

    "They withdrew a decade later after facing stiff resistance from Afghan fighters, who were backed by the United States and Pakistan."

    Now American troops are fighting the same Afghan fighters whom we trained just a couple of decades ago.

    Now we are training people in Pakistan to fight Taliban, two decades from now, our children will be fighting those people whom we are training today. And the cycle continues.

    November 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Mark

    I'm sure the communist would like to see Obama do well and stay in power.

    November 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Bridgette

    If he listens to no one else this is a man he should. He has been where President Obama is and where he is going concerning this Afghan situation.

    November 8, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  4. Perhaps

    But if Gorbachev's methodology works so well, why did Afghanistan fall into disarray AGAIN? We need more troops in my opinion because otherwise, the terrorists are likely to reconquer lost ground - and rather quickly, I might add. We need it fully stabilized, without exception. War sucks, but it's a necessary evil, especially during a time of such rampant international terrorism. I'm with Gen. Stanley McChrystal all the way.

    November 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    US should be planning on how to pull out troops from there not sending more troops, send funding and intelligence and involve other powerful economies like china ,japan etc millitariy... if obama send troops the republicans will have a good case against him come election time. NATO, European Union? can contribute more, US budget is in deficit , Increase boarder security intelligence and equipments period. Save the souls of our faithful solders please.

    November 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. Hazel

    I think Gorbachev is correct. Those folks do not want us there and we are not accomplishing anything but getting more of our people killed. The goal was to catch Bin Laden, but since we have no clue where he is or how to get to him , so let's get out. All the years we have been there and absolutely nothing we do will bring about a sucessful mission.

    I'm with Hillary when she said the Pakistan people know where Bin Laden is but they have no incentive to tell the US where he is and they aren't going to do it.

    We should only be in countries fighting wars that have attacked us and not invade other countries that have not asked us for help. We say we are not the world police, but we sure act like it.

    November 8, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. Dylan from MN

    If you ever want to progress to tomorrows world we must find a new way of reconciling, war doesn't solve problems but only prolongs them and makes them more complicated. What's need it humanitarian aide, tolerance and education...it's the only means to the end and it will take decades, but it's the only solution we have.

    November 8, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Well I suppose if he's going to listen to anyone, it would be a devout communist.

    November 8, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. jack, new york, new york

    if we had a president with experience and a solid background for governance, these comments by gorbachev could be taken lightly and then ignored. but with obama in the white house, there is reason to be concerned that he will take seriously gorbachev's remarks and actually consider them as serious advice.

    November 8, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. James, Ho. TX

    40,000 more troops to Afghanistan should be considered as "Pawns"in this stupid game. I agree, why spend any more American GI's and to who's value? Tme to withdraw, We will be Lives and Dollars ahead. Look at G.W. and all his Cronies; Retired, Pensioned, with No Worries !

    November 8, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Falconawesome

    I really hope Mr. Obama does not take this advice. Could you imagine? Taking the advice of a former communist leader. It would be political suicide if such was the case. Instead Mr. Obama should send every able bodied American (willing or not) into Afghanistan and finally put an end to this war.

    The idea is to win the war, it's getting ridiculous how long the troops have been there. The poor people of Afghanistan deserve better treatment than this. Go in guns'a'blazin, with all the manpower possible and you'll have who you want in a couple weeks. I realize this isn't the most "profitable" war tactic but really we're just setting up another country/culture/religion to raise their children to hate Americans. I don't know about you but I'm sick of being hated throughout the world.

    November 8, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. Runofthemill

    I would wager good money that the President and his advisors have already been down this road in their talks. There is a very good reason the President has not committed to a specific plan of action yet. He is wise and thoughtful leader who has inherited a war that should have ended 7 years ago, but still drags on. The reason it stilol drags on is because the nit wits who came before never took the time to sit down and figure out what to do. they just muddled along hoping itwould resolve itself. Now we have responsible adult leadership again. Than God for that. If I were armed services I would be breathing a sigh of relief that I would not be forced to risk my life and disrupt my family based on the whim of a moron, but rather in a well t hought out campaign to forward our nations interests and to bring our values to the fight.

    November 8, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Afghanistan is called "The Cemetery of Empires" for good reason!

    November 8, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. Xavier

    Its time to admit that Bush and his buddiens made to much of mess in Afghanistan to ever fix it. I for once am not willing to sacrifice any more American soldiers for a MISTAKE done by Bush and the rest of his ill gotten clan.

    November 8, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Dennis

    Just as the Afghan war brought the former Soviet Union to bankruptcy and it's knees (sorry Reagan lovers, it was not the USA bullying) so for a $3.49 box cutter and a few flying lessons, the terrorist have also succeeded the same with the United States. They of course waited until the American people elected a President who was a dumb as a box of rocks, because they knew what his response would be. Spend trillions of dollars and kill thousands of American troops in the process of chasing shadows on the wall. This is a man we should listen to.

    November 8, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. John Black Hills/SD

    To be respected around the globe (and today we're not, and WWII was a long time ago in another place, another time) the worlds developing nations are looking for an enlightened society as a model in moving their part of the world into the present. We went to Afghanistan to punish Al Qaeda's leadership and remove the terrorist training bases. The Afghanistan war has mutated into a drain that's doing just that, draining men, women, and families on all sides. Maybe we need to have Afghan's building real roads and rails for trains, communication systems, and the infrastructure that makes a place fit to live and advance. When these people see the true benefits to their families young, and old with hospitals, and schools, the Taliban will loose their purpose when their members begin living a real life worth working for, and they have a new purpose.

    November 8, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  17. usualone

    Good advice, although some "wingnut" will think those who agree with this man are Communists. We should learn from their experience, and we kind of have a mirror experience going on now.

    November 8, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. Artemisios

    Far more reasoned and informed an approach than that suggested by Cheney. Unfortunately, Americans will never accept a "defeat" until there's a major slaughter of American troops. Sad.

    November 8, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. That's great.....

    that will leave Al Qaeda with total freedom to launch another 9/11 attack....

    better get your Humvee now to drive your kids to school and a flak jacket for yourself to go to work....

    November 8, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. Hirotomi Takemitsu

    Good advice, spoken from experience which President Obama should heed.

    No more troops. No more wars for the USA!! Fix our own country and healthcare, employment etc., economy first.

    November 8, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  21. it's more than politics

    I think we need both. More troops and more domestic development.

    I think Obama is looking at all the options and getting all the info he can. Once he makes his decision, we can be sure it is an educated one (unlike the decisions of the previous president.)

    November 8, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. chris

    I agree that the former USSR's actions need to be examined given they were in a very similar circumstance. However, how did those actions turn out? Afghanistan became a breeding ground of hate towards America. So, is Mr. Gorbachev suggesting we turn the Taliban on Russia so that they will no longer be a problem to us?

    November 8, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  23. infidel

    Mr. President listen to the voice of experience and bring our troops home.

    November 8, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. Ann

    This is the kind of sharing of political opinions between current and past world leaders which is needed. It is important for current and past presidents to share their opinions with each other and take each others experience into consideration when making decisions which have a major effect on other countries. It is encouraging that President Gorbachev feels comfortable sharing his ideas with us and we should let him know we appreciate him.

    November 8, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  25. Scott L

    10.2% unemployment and we are having health care crammed down our throats.

    November 8, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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