November 8th, 2009
05:08 PM ET
4 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. Francis, Maui

    Gorbachev is so right. We need to get out of Afghanistan completely and mind our own business. Spend money at home for the poor, hungry and rebulid our econonmy. We are spending so much money which we are borrowing and paying huge interests. Obama should not listen to these war mongers.

    November 8, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  2. Buckeye

    It took the Soviets 10 years and 17,000 dead to finally see the light and leave. Looks like the Pentagon is just as blind as the Kremlin.

    November 8, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. CJ/PA

    I agree with former President Gorbachev. He certainly has the experience to know what he is talking about, and I believe the Administration should listen to the increasing voices of reason telling us to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan as soon as practicable.

    November 8, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. cony

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries that hate us don't just have one Bin Laden. These countries have millions of them who are willing to give their lifes to Allah. We need to get out of these sick and idiotic wars and bring our troops home. We can not stop this insanity so it's better to put our energy and focus to put our house in order. America needs healing. So lets start healing our wounds by taking care of our people instead of creating wars that only kill people and make money for a few BLUE BLOODS who have share one ounce of blood for our beautiful nation. WE THE PEOPLE NEED to let president Obama know that we want peace and not war anymore.

    November 8, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Unemployed In Iowa because of Obama

    Obama needs job creation advice, because he is a loser at everything and a lier.

    November 8, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. Tammy

    The Russians are the last people to be getting advice from. No matter how well intentioned Gorbachev seems to be. They had no business invading Afghanistan. It was not their country. They still hold an empire today. One that will blow up against them one of these days.

    November 8, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Wise Latina

    The REAL story about the House health care vote is NOT the sole Repub cross over vote (by a weak rep in a strong Dem district), but rather the MANY Dem votes AGAINST Pelosi and Obama. Let's get some real investigative reporting as to why all these Dems abandoned their leaders and went AGAINST this horrible bill.

    And while Obama fixates on this low priority health care bill and dithers on Afghanistan, brave soldiers continue to die...

    November 8, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    If we decide to goto war, we should start the draft and start a war tax. I find it amazing that people are so gun ho to send other people kids and someone else's money to fight a war. Instead of 40k, sent a half a million. 1 million. What ever it takes to "win" (Whatever winning is). If we, as a people, are not willing to sacrifice to do this, then we should pull out. It isn't the job of the US to recreate the world in our image. We could be just as good at disrupting terrorist activity in the region by policy and special ops.

    If it were up to me, I would get out. We can't afford the way we are fighting this war. But, if we choose to stay, then lets get serious about what we are doing there and how we are paying for. Any choice in the middle will just waste lives and money.

    November 8, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. Black Viper

    No no no Gorbachev we have the best army in the world we can win in afghanistan where all the other greatest armies has failed.
    We will kill all talibans and terrorists even if they will keep recruiting djihadist from all over the world to fight us and we will be sending more innocent soldiers to fight zombies over there.
    You can't fight Ideologism with Ideologism. They will keep comming because they don't care about giving their life they love doing so and are so passionate of being killed because they believe they are going to heaven being killed defending their religion. We care about a soldier loosing it's life.
    You have to kill every single extremist in the middle east to win that war which is not possible. Al-queda is weaken already and that should be the only goal of the army in response to 9/11 and we should be working on cover operations with other countries help to kill al quaeda leaders all over the world period.
    I SAID PULL OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW.

    November 8, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. ev

    You've got to be kidding me. The USSR was intent on dominating and destroying the country. We are trying to make it a democracy, to rid it of the Taliban, and to get rid of the the terrorist bases. To compare the two is insulting and offensive. For CNN to not point this out is insulting, idiotic, and irresponsible. I'm not surprised though. I doubt the child who wrote this has any clue about the 1979 invasion, or the President Carter boycotted the Olympics over it. Pathetic

    November 8, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. seg

    Luv you, Pres. Obama, but do you remember your History 101 class . . .

    "To not know what happened before you were born, leaves you forever a child."

    -Cicero

    November 8, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. Retired US Army Officer - Kansas

    "emphasize domestic development in Afghanistan and promoting national reconciliation between the various clans in the country."

    Really, must have been a different war than I recall, as we were pumping everything but the kitchen sink into the hands of the clans and Taliban to kill Soviet helicopters and soldiers. Soviet forces were brutal and tried projecting pure force. Economic development, while providing security and a functional national security force is the way to deal with Afganistan. But the Afgans are the only ones can give the Afgans peace.

    November 8, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. joe mett

    President Obama, a word to the wise is enough! Even if you are the Prophet Mohammed, you cannot win anything in Afghanistan. You cannot convert the country into a Jeffersonian Democracy like the state of Virginia in four years or eight years which is the maximum number of years you can be president.

    Stop listening to these war hungry generals who are just interested in fighting wars to boost their careers. You are setting up US troops as sitting ducks for suicide bombers, IEDs, guerilla warfare tactics. The only people who benefit from an escalation of the war in Afghanistan are the groups who benefit from the spoils of the military-industrial complex!!!!!

    November 8, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. Drone Pilot

    Now, there is a real leader.....

    November 8, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  15. jim mcnally

    We need advice from another source. According to Gorbachev the Soviet Union sought to "promote national reconciliation" after killing more than a million Afghan civilians. When in the history of human civilization has this occured?

    November 8, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. Sam Sixpack

    Of course this guy has your best interests at heart.

    November 8, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  17. Grrr-awful-o

    Excellent advice! From one socialist to another. I'm quite sure the the "extensive" decision making process currently underway in the Obama administration will lead to this very conclusion. Forget that Gorbie has some Sovie... err, I mean Russian self-serving motives. It's still a good socialist thing to do. Somehow.

    November 8, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. haren

    Deficit worry Lieberman will jump to his feet to attack and spend money on Afghanistan,Iran and Iraq but won't support health care bill.

    November 8, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. jules sand-perkins

    Gorbachev has good points to offer from his experience.
    In addition, dare one suggest that the USA might lessen the threat of terrorists to our country by altering our biased approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, especially in regard to Biblically based Zionist claims by Israel to land that was Palestine since about the time of Constantine's Maxwell-Perkins-style editing of the holy scriptures to the glory of God? The USA has a little thing called separation of church and state.
    Arab terrorists are not mad at us because we have pop stars who are material girls.
    A more even-handed approach to Palestine and Israel would lessen our need for doomed troops in that part of the world.
    Is it possible to win the Nobel Peace Prize twice in a row?

    November 8, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. rumrunner

    someone who's been there

    November 8, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. Carl Justus

    It probably would be the best idea to take Gorbachev's adivce and begin the work to bring our troops home.

    Afghanistan is ruled by tribes, war lords, religious leaders and hoodlums growing poppies for durgs.

    They do not want to give up their rule on their patch of ground regardless of the size and regardless of the potential of being killed by the taliban or Al Qeada or some other bigger tribe or better armed war lord.

    November 8, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  22. Web Thomas

    How many more voices of experience must be ignored before the only logical move - to withdraw from Afghanistan– takes place. Are we going to continue to bankrupt our own country for a tribal area 1/2 way around the world? For a region that has resisted change for a thousand years! We are going to change Afghanistan? I don't think so.
    Will the voices of reason drown out the voices of the Military-Industrial complex that survive on this squandering of our nations resources, or are we going to keep on until we are financially and morally destitute? Wake up America!!!

    November 8, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    Finally, a voice of reason to drown out the noise of the rabble. Can we not learn the quagmire we saw another superpower bog down under? No organized force can prevail against a determined insurgency. Rome experienced that truth. Persia, Babylon, Egypt; all have subjugated and then capitulated. Britain, France, Spain; all have conquered and then withdrawn.

    If history repeats itself, and futile repetitious expressions are the definition of insanity, what should that tell us about ourselves?

    November 8, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. Dewey

    Oh, that's just what we need...a socialist giving our socialist advice!

    November 8, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. Kent in CA

    If we withdraw the Afghan women pay the price. I think we should pull out and offer every woman in Afghanastan a green card and a one way ticket to the US and job training in the US. Let the Afghan men fight over a wifeless, motherless, daughterless wasteland.
    Without a solution that frees the oppressed women of this place, we have failed.

    November 8, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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