In a BBC interview out today, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet Union, said that a U.S. victory in Afghanistan is "impossible" and that the failure to withdraw risks another Vietnam. Gorbachev referenced his experience pulling Soviet troops out of Afghanistan in 1989, after a decade-long war — a year longer than our current conflict in Afghanistan. Before withdrawing, he said an agreement was reached between Iran, India, Pakistan, and the U.S., which had been backing mujahideen fighters, some of whom eventually joined the Taliban:
"We had hoped America would abide by the agreement that we reached that Afghanistan should be a neutral, democratic country that would have good relations with its neighbors and with both the U.S. and the USSR. The Americans always said they supported this, but at the same time they were training militants -- the same ones who today are terrorizing Afghanistan and more and more of Pakistan."
Gorbachev acknowledged that the U.S.'s history in Afghanistan during the Cold War made abandoning the war more complicated, but said NATO's only achievable goal would be to help the country rebuild afterward:
"But what's the alternative — another Vietnam? Sending in half a million troops? That wouldn't work. Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. [Barack] Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be."
First of all, Mr. Gorbachev, hello! So nice to hear from you! It's been awhile. It is super-awkward, isn't it? That whole business about us training and arming some of the very evildoers we are now failing to vanquish. Mostly, we here in America just try to focus on more recent moral quagmires. But, hey, we're sure that Barack Obama appreciates your unequivocal support; it couldn't have come at a better time. We can almost see the banner in our mind's eye: "Former Communist Leader Agrees With Barack Hussein Obama About That Horrible War No One Can See a Way Out Of!" Let's just gloss over the fact that the president actually ordered 30,000 additional troops at the end of last year and hope no one notices.