Gorbachev Blasts US’ Afghanistan Campaign as Being a ‘Failure’ From the Get-Go
© Alexander ZemlianichenkoIn this Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 file photo, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attends the Moscow premier of a film made by Werner Herzog and British filmmaker Andre Singer based on their conversations, in Moscow, Russia. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev turned 90 on Tuesday March 2, 2021, receiving greetings from the Kremlin and global leaders while Russians remained divided over his legacy.
© Alexander Zemlianichenko
With the Taliban having successfully regained control of Afghanistan after spending years fighting against the government, many politicians are coming forward to give their take on the developing situation in the Central Asian country. Now, a Soviet-era leader who oversaw his own withdrawal from the war-torn nation is speaking out.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has become the latest politician to address the ongoing US withdrawal efforts in Afghanistan, underscoring that lessons must be learned from the drastic turn of events.
Gorbachev told Sputnik on Tuesday that the US mission in Afghanistan was doomed from the start as he recalled the Soviet Union's missteps with its 1989 withdrawal from the Central Asian nation.
"The failure should have been admitted earlier,” the Soviet-era leader remarked. “Now it is important to learn lessons, and to at least avoid repetition of such mistakes. ...This idea was unsuccessful from the very beginning, although Russia supported it at the first stage.”
“Like many similar projects, it was based on threat exaggeration and some not quite clear geopolitical plans, which was followed by unrealistic attempts to democratize a multi-tribal society," he added.
The Soviet Union undertook its own military efforts in Afghanistan over a period of 10 years as part of a larger effort to back the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.
The operation largely became part of a Cold War-era proxy war as the US maintained firm support for the rebels opposing the Soviet-backed government. The mission eventually came to an end in October 1989, with the government managing to stay in power for an additional three years after Soviet troops left. The Afghan government at the time never fully recovered after the Soviet collapse in 1992.
Gorbachev further noted that the Soviet presence in Afghanistan was a political mistake, but that he oversaw the move to pull troops back after having engaged in several rounds with ministry heads. The former Soviet president underscored that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was fully backed by the Soviet political and military leadership, as well as by the people.
As for the US, it ultimately chose to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in response to the Taliban-led government's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden and remove all al-Qaeda training bases. The invasion went on to become the US’ longest war to date and one of the deadliest occupations.