October 9th, 2009
02:48 PM ET
12 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. Thomas

    Who was the American president in
    1989 ?

    Please tell me ? Just mention his NAME !

    October 9, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. John

    And the Nobel War Prize goes to................

    BUSH, CHENEY, RUMSFELD and GOP of America 😛

    October 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. z

    Maybe, Just a thought....the war in Iraq and the war in Afghan is so that we have two attack fronts for maybe going to war with Iran.

    I hope we don't have to go that far but one never knows.... in the crazy world.

    If Iran does get the bomb and does something really really stupid like target their neighbors to the east and all hell breaks loose. We won't have to move troops that far to march into Iran.

    October 9, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    First of all, BUSH got the Troops into Afghanistan, to eradicate Bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is no longer IN Afghanistan.

    Secondly, BUSH started the war with Iraq, so that Big Oil could once again gain control of Iraqi OIL FIELDS! True. Sadaam Hussein threw Big Oil out of Iraq, 20 years ago. And Big Oil wanted back in. Bush lied our Troops die!

    The Taliban were trained and armed by the Reagan administration! Now our sons and daughters are dying because of an arrogant GOP president who wanted the Taliban to fight the Soviets!

    Afghanistan is another Vietnam, and worse. EIGHT YEARS and counting!

    October 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom

    PS. The Soviets NEVER CONTROLLED AFGHANISTAN! They had to withdraw and leave.

    October 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Alex

    vicious rumour that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990. I don't claim to know the truth - only that the rumor floating around saying that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990 should be discussed. So I want to do my part to try and help get to the bottom of this. Why won't Glenn Beck deny these allegations? I wouldn't accuse Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 – in fact, I think he didn't! But I can't help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations. Why won't he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?

    October 9, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Kim

    r curtis your though is worth thinking about.

    It is a forsaken land, the billions spent on war efforts would be better spent propping up the country against al qaeda than trying to root out the ones we set up.

    October 9, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. shmeckel

    It is funny seeing the righties call it Obama's war; just as funny to see the lefties say it is Bush's war. Here is a news flash; this is Jimmy Carter's war people. He wanted Russia to have their very own Vietnam so he recruited the most extreme radicals the middle east had to offer, and gave them guns, lots of guns (do you really think the afghans could have stood up to the USSR on their own). So now we are fighting against the army that Carter created (which was enhanced and fine tuned by Reagan, and put into power by Clinton). Bush was the first president that was forced into action through no fault of his own; and Obama just inherited it. All the other presidents were just there for the love of their country (yes that last part is sarcastic).

    October 9, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. John

    SOCIALISM….. GOP calls Obama a Socialist.
    SOCIALISM….. GOP calls Public Option, Socialism.
    SOCIALISM….. Social Security, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. Free education until 12th grade, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. Bailout of Wall Street and AIG, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. Bush like that Iraq has WMDs, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. We believed what Bush said, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. 4300 Troops died, is it not Socialism?
    SOCIALISM….. Bush visits Beijing Olympics, is not a waste of Tax Money.
    SOCIALISM….. Obama flies to Copenhagen to Canvas for Chicago, GOP calls it a waste of Tax Dollars.
    How easily we get Fooled and Misled by GOP………… Whatever Bush and GOP did is not Socialism……….. Whatever Obama is doing is Socialism………….

    October 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Wilson must not want to WIN THE WAR! He forgot what we learned in the Russian war in Afganistan. You win by killing the enemy.

    October 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. OldUncleTom

    Afghanis are a lot like Americans.... they won't be ruled by foreigners.

    I hope we can find a way to help these proud people to create a nation they believe in. Only then is it possible to "win" this conflict.

    October 9, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. No Hillary = No Obama

    Does Obama really think you can separate the Taliban from Al Quida? Talk about the intellectualizing defense mechanism in full display. Do that and before long Al Quida will own theTaliban. What poor leadership.

    October 9, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Mothernature

    President Obama need to start firing some of these idiots, and maybe they can go back to school and get a decent education. Some of you granfathered in CNN people should follow suite. Evil prevails nothing

    October 9, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Mark in Atlanta

    Excellent post, Alex. I too am deeply disturbed by allegations that Glen Beck raped and killed a girl in 1990. I have heard these rumors online in news network blogs, and I can only wonder why Glen Beck has not produced evidence proving that he was not near any girls in 1990. without such proof, how can we be expected to believe that he did not, as has been reported online, rape and kill a girl in 1990? All I am saying is that all he has to do is produce the evidence, and the whole thing goes away. Until then, we can just wander why he would rape and kill a girl in 1990.

    October 9, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Dan, TX

    The more republicans and democrats snipe at each other, the weaker America becomes.

    October 9, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. The Other Michael in Houston

    Schmeckel get you historical facts straight. It was not Carter it was Ford and some say actually Nixon who started funding the Afgans intially. I love how some of you spew incorrect statements, quit watching Faux news and pick up a book.

    October 9, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. al in memphis

    This war is not like a movie. It doesn't just run for two hours while we eat our popcorn. Then we go home. People are dying and communites are being ruined. There are too many detractors and talk show host making millions on critizing a leader that has to make a decision about life, death, and the destruction of communities.

    You trying doing that with a conscience.

    October 9, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  18. Tom

    Obama's War????


    Bush started this war... deployed troops without a clear strategy... left them to "muddle through" for 7+ years putting them in harm's way... took necessary troops and resources for a war of choice in Iraq... and somehow this is Obama's War.

    Uh, OK. Whatever. The sky is green and down is up.

    October 9, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. DJ

    Interesting take...not enough attention is given to what the Soviets did in the 80's and just because you have a lot of troops does not mean you can win.

    October 9, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. observer

    Thank you Charlie Wilson for being patriotic enough and speaking up. I believe you because, you have been there and you know what you are talking about.

    October 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. johan yavari

    Charlie Wilson is just plain wrong. He didn't understand the situation in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, he didn't understand it during the civil war afterward, and I can only assume he does not understand it now (given his "I'll support anything Obama decides" stance on the country).
    First of all, US involvement during the Soviet occupation, especially our completely hands-off approach of funneling money and supplies through Pakistani intelligence is probably the sole reason why the Taliban rose to power and gave Al Qaeda safe haven.
    Second, while leaving Afghanistan to fend for itself after the Soviet withdrawal was clearly a problem, $20-30million? That figure is totally fantastical. The situation was not "reconstruction" as Charlie Wilson puts it. It was full-scale civil war.
    As far as calculated withdrawal, and setting aside any moral qualms about royally screwing the Afghan people, you need more of a plan than "let's just leave." Remember, "calculated withdrawals" are essentially the basis for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations' belief that they can defeat superpowers. They remember all to well what happened to the US in Lebanon and Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    October 9, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Gerry

    I thought that obama was the president so this makes it his war. You can only blame someelse for so long. It sounds like the demo's don't know what to do.

    October 9, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. m smith

    Mr Wilson is a very smart man. Wish I could say the same for the republican party. They can't even shut up when the president receives the Nobel prize. Such unpatriotic idiots should be removed from their offices. The majority of the people are sick of them and the morons that write in to complain about this administration. Most have their facts wrong or spout out right lies that they have picked from dumb E mail that someone made up and is circulating .

    October 9, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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