Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gorbachev Advises Obama to Withdraw From Afghanistan.

As we read that Obama's advisers are leaning towards suggesting that he send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, we also learn that Mikheil Gorbachev, the last head of state to order withdrawal of his own forces from that country, has advised that the best thing Obama could do is to get out.

“There is no prospect of a military solution,” Gorbachev warned, “what we need is the reconciliation of Afghan society – and they should be preparing the ground for withdrawal rather than additional troops.”

As the General Secretary of the Soviet Union in the mid 1980’s, Gorbachev oversaw the last four years of the failed decade-long occupation, and materially all of the pullout from the country.

The US government’s war has followed largely the same path as the Soviet one, with ever escalating numbers of troops and rising expectations failing in the face of an ever growing insurgency.

I remember reading a Russian general, shortly after the US invaded, saying something along the lines of, "You can fire into those mountains for a decade but it will achieve nothing."

And, it's hard eight years on, not to think that he had a point. I understand the need to disrupt al Qaeda, but I find it hard to believe that they are still in Afghanistan. They are much more likely to be in Waziristan, which only makes the loss of American soldiers in Afghanistan seem all the more futile.

But, it's unlikely that Obama will take Gorbachev's advice. It's almost as if - because he wants to withdraw from Iraq - that he fears being seen as soft on defence.

And, of course, there is that never ending line of insane right wingers who are screaming at the top of their lungs that the US must win in Afghanistan, and who will quickly blame Obama should the US have to concede the inevitable.

My problem is that I simply don't see how victory is possible there, I honestly don't even know what that would look like.


Here is Gorbachev's interview.

Click here for full article.

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