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

Gorbachev gives Obama advice on Afghanistan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Albo58

    Well the president ignores the advise of his military leaders, so why not take Gorbi's advise? After all, this not an issue that he can continue to vote present on!

    November 8, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  2. Nick San Diego

    Words that should be heeded.
    They've been there and done that.
    As for Afghanistan becoming a staging area for terrorists, I say let the UN and global community get involved.
    We the people of the U.S. are tired of policing the world.

    November 8, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  3. james

    Of course the outcome will be different for us. We're going to win. (Whatever that means.) The writing's on the wall. It seems like we'll never learn.

    November 8, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. gary

    yeah afghanistan is a mess. But the whole world has a stake in this, to repell terrorism, to repell islamic extremism and stop the production of devastating illegal drugs around the world. This is not just a US problem, this is a world problem....we need 70,000 more troops but those should come equally from the largets 50 countries, not from the US alone.

    November 8, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  5. Great Northwest

    Bring them home from Bush/Cheney 's war yesterday .

    November 8, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. fred

    so this should tell Obama that he should send them.

    November 8, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. melvin

    I do think that President Obama should follow the advice of The former soviet leader. Who better to have first hand experience than the soviets. I do not think adding more troops will make any difference to the state of life in Afghanistan. The Afghans should decide for themselves what they really want for their nation.

    November 8, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. amt in CA

    In this particular case I agree with Gorbachev, our goal should be to withdraw & maybe we could learn from what they(Russia) did & give that opinoin more attention. However I have confidence in Pres Obama to make the correct decision.

    November 8, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. radii


    There is nothing to "win" there. It is dirt poor with a corrupt government and the Taliban are only there because we are.

    Obama is a tool of israel if he sends even one more soldier.

    He should fire McChrystal and maybe some other generals too. We have civilian control over the military and maybe they need to be reminded of this fact.

    The Kagans and other neocons need to be investigated for possibly spying on behalf of israel.

    November 8, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    Obama won't increase troop levels and will not draw down. It's called the "Slow Bleed" strategy.

    Incompetence in the Oval Office = more US troop deaths.

    November 8, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. Marie MD

    If anyone should know what to do in Afghanistan it's the Russians. Another country, like Vietnam, where we should leave ASAP. The whole point of Afghanistan was to find bin laden and we all know how well that turned out for the cheney/bush dictatorship.

    November 8, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  12. Keith in Austin

    Comrade Obozo now getting advice from Gorbachev?

    How befitting as we celebrate the 20 yr anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Last night Liberal Dems passed the largest piece of Socialistic legislation in American History! Thank you Pelosi and Obama liberals doing your part in bringing The Wall to America because of your unquenchable thirst for Big Government control and political empowerment! You will rue the day when re-election day comes!

    November 8, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  13. Matt

    I'm not going to suggest its easy- but tell Karzai he has 1 year to make real progress on the corruption front or we're out- oh and remind him that IF we decide to pull out his name and those of his corrupt officials will certainly be at the top of the Taliban's lists.

    November 8, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. Tony in Maine

    Well that ought to send the Mr. Beck over the edge.

    November 8, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  15. Patriot

    Does Obama have the heart and courage to DO THE RIGHT THING? Does he truly CARE about the PEOPLE as he so presented himself to be? I agree we should leave and use our resources in the USA. There is a war right here, right now.. Unemployment, Crime, Corruption, Drugs, Lack of Education etc..

    November 8, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  16. Sharon

    Obama's Administration hasn't met that many times. The majority of time was spent on health care reform.



    IF AMERICA ISN'T PREPARED TO DO THIS, THEN DRAW THE TROOPS OUT ASAP! Don't lay the foundation for withdrawal-Just Do IT!!!

    The former Russian leader was/is respected by most Americans!
    Surprise! Don't agree with all his ways, but I think the advice is sound!!!

    November 8, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. Dude in Colorado

    I hope President Obama has the courage to take the advice of a man who has been been down the road we're on...

    Of course, if he does the everyone from Republican Moderates to Tea-Baggers will be crying foul, commie, socialist, see – I told you so!

    November 8, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. john

    As far as I remember Gorbachev lost the war with them.

    November 8, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. Bob in Pa

    yeah, don't invade in December

    November 8, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. Franklin

    This is arguably the most complex foreign policy challenge of our time. There are no right answers in this case. There is no conceivable victory and it will be stupid not to learn from history. No matter the commitment, technology, dedication, brilliance of strategy, it will only yield short term success. In the long term, Afghanistan will maintain its reputation as the graveyard of empires. This war, threatens the US more economically than any other way. I agree with Gorbachev, the strategy should be to pullout. There should be a surge of troops for 2 years. All Afghan neighbors should get involved in rooting out those who advocate global jihad. When the pullout finally goes through, a residual force should be left there to disrupt, bomb etc.

    November 8, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  21. Scott H

    Who really cares what Gorbachev thinks. "Dialog" will not end Al Queda or its partners in crime and militant Islam. See also Iranian nuclear crisis. (How's that "diolog" coming? Oooops). Sadly, Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our time.

    November 8, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  22. alexander

    GORBACHEV, GORBACHEV, DOES MR.ONE TERM HAVE THE SLIGHEST IDEA OF WHAT COUNTRY HE IS LIVING IN ? Does he have any ability to be shamed by his own inability to lead a capitalist country that he is trying to make over into a communist country. Are we ever going to get this after the fact government to react to this pathetic person that is in the place we reserve for men.Are we sure that we are being lead by sane people. After all some fool was going to send a insane man to a war zone, and it looks like not one person was about to question this move??. Certainly W/ all the people killed or wounded that general Casey looks and sounds like he needs counseling.Their has to be some one in this sound the alarm before the fact.

    November 8, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
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