Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union, warned that a NATO victory in Afghanistan is "impossible" and said that the US should withdraw its troops immediately in order to avoid another Vietnam. Gorbachev praised President Obama for his decision to begin withdrawing troops next year, but also noted that the US would struggle to get out of the situation. "Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be," Gorbachev said. However, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague commented that troops would not be withdrawn from the country until their "very difficult" work was complete (BBC). .
Gorbachev, who speaks from experience after pulling Soviet troops out 20 years ago after a decade-long fight, believes it will be hard for the US because of their long history with 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 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 US first armed Islamist fighters during the Cold War and is now fighting against them. Gorbachev questions, "But what's the alternative - another Vietnam? Sending in half a million troops? That wouldn't work" (AOL News). Gorbachev said that the best NATO could hope to achieve was to help the country get back on its feet and rebuild itself after the war (BBC). .
NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced that he is talking to Moscow about how the Russians could help with the mission in Afghanistan. He hopes to make important decisions on co-operation at the NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon next month. "For historical reasons we will not see Russian boots on the ground in Afghanistan.