Mikhail Gorbachev, who pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan more than 20 years ago after a bloody decadelong war there, says victory in Afghanistan is “impossible,” and that America is risking another Vietnam if it doesn’t withdraw its own troops soon.The Red Army was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989, after being routed by U.S.-backed mujahedeen fighters — some of whom later joined the Taliban and are NATO’s enemies in the war today. Gorbachev recognized that irony in an interview with the BBC aired today.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview with the BBC that “Obama is right to pull the troops out” of Afghanistan.
“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 79-year-old former Soviet leader said. “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.”
The complex history of the U.S. in Afghanistan, where it first armed Islamist fighters during the Cold War and is now fighting against them, makes it more difficult for U.S. troops to abandon the country, Gorbachev said.
“But what’s the alternative — another Vietnam? Sending in half a million troops? That wouldn’t work,” he said. “Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. [Barack] Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be.”
More than 150,000 NATO troops, mostly Americans and Britons, have been fighting in Afghanistan for nine years. The Obama administration has pledged to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops there next year, though American forces are expected to remain in smaller numbers for several years.
Meanwhile, Russian troops may once again be pulled into conflict in Afghanistan, according to new NATO proposals for cooperation with Moscow. The plans, which are being discussed ahead of a NATO summit next month in Lisbon, include Russia’s possible contribution of helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, and increased cooperation on counternarcotics and border security, The Guardian reported.
Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, dismissed the report today, telling the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, “We’ve already been in Afghanistan, and we didn’t like it much.”
Gorbachev’s comments to the BBC come amid of flurry of interviews he’s given recently, including several in which he’s been boldly critical of Russia’s current leadership.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who once had Gorbachev’s support, has now undermined his country’s democracy, the former Soviet leader told The New York Times. “He thinks that democracy stands in his way,” Gorbachev said.
Sponsored Links “I am afraid that they have been saddled with this idea that this unmanageable country needs authoritarianism,” Gorbachev continued, referring to both Putin and his close ally, President Dmitry Medvedev. “They think they cannot do without it.”
Gorbachev said officials of Putin’s United Russia party are too concerned with clinging onto their own power and don’t want Russians to participate in their nation’s civic life. It’s the same frustrated tone he struck in another interview with Moscow-based Snob magazine last week, in which he warned that Russia’s leadership must start listening to the people or risk mass protests and disorder.
“Our government fears its own citizens,” Gorbachev told the magazine, according to Bloomberg News. “When people finally realize that their opinion is ignored and that nothing depends on them, they’ll go out on the street.
“The most dangerous thing is if the tension building up in society suddenly bursts onto the street with such a force that we’ll all be in trouble.”
Read more at AOL.
Green Revolution is Dead – Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leader of Iran’s opposition green movement was involved in the massacre of more than 10,000 political prisoners in 1988, according to a report.June 15, 2010
Photo: REUTERSMr Mousavi, the defeated candidate in last June’s presidential election, served as Iran’s prime minister when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime’s spiritual leader, issued a fatwa that sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death without trial, according to the report by one of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers.Mr Mousavi is one of several prominent Iranian politicians who are accused of implementing the order. According to a detailed report published by Geoffrey Robertson QC, who specialises in human rights law, the prisoners were executed for refusing to recant their political and religious beliefs.
if Bret Stephens is right, what Mousavi did is irrelevant to Iran’s future: The ‘green revolution’ is dead.
Suppose that in the days following last year’s fraudulent election in Iran, the U.S. and its Western allies had warned Tehran’s leaders that their repression at home would be met, swiftly and severely, with consequences abroad. For every Neda Soltan shot dead in the street, an Iranian diplomat posted abroad would be expelled. For every foreigner put on trial in Iran, a Western firm doing business in the country would close its doors. For every opposition activist hanged, deliveries of imported gasoline would be curtailed.
And for every call to wipe Israel off the map, the U.S. would supply the Jewish state with 100 bunker-busters suitable for use against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Had any of that happened, it’s just possible that Iran’s leaders might have hesitated before moving ahead with their bloody crackdown and, in hesitating, given Iran’s democratic opposition the opening it needed to sustain itself. But it didn’t happen. In those critical June days, as the regime wobbled, the Obama administration opted to ease the regime’s fears instead of multiplying them. And instead of creating leverage for himself, the president conceded it preemptively in hopes of currying favor for a nuclear deal.
A year on, we are living with the consequences of his failure.
Worst of all, the Green movement is, if not extinguished completely, little more than a flickering ember. The three million Iranians who marched for freedom last June may have to wait another generation for a similar opportunity.
Revolutions are also a question of luck and circumstance. In Berlin in 1989, a befuddled East German Politburo member misread his instructions and announced that East Germans were henceforth free to travel to the West. Thus—thus!—did the Wall come down. Two years later in Moscow, some visibly nervous coup plotters took to a stage to announce Gorbachev’s early retirement. Their shaky performance allowed Boris Yeltsin to rally Russians against them. It helped that Yeltsin didn’t have, in George H.W. Bush, an American president who refused to “meddle” in the country’s internal affairs.
“They were hung from cranes, four at a time, or in groups of six from ropes hanging from the stage of the prison assembly hall,” the report states. “Their bodies were doused with disinfectant, packed in refrigerated trucks, and buried by night in mass graves.”
In an interview given to Austrian television in December 1988, Mr Mousavi tried to defend the mass executions of the prisoners, many of whom were members of the Marxist “Mojahedin Khalq” organisation, which opposed the Islamic regime established by Khomeini following the 1979 Iranian revolution.
“We had to crush the conspiracy,” said Mr Mousavi. “In that respect we have no mercy.”