Mikhail Gorbachev knows about wars in Afghanistan. When he ruled the Soviet Union, he ended up bringing the mighty Red Army home, tails between their legs, after years of being sniped at by "insurgent" Afghans who didn't want their country imposed on by a superpower. Not long after, his own country broke up. Failing imperial wars aren't good for national budgets or stability at home.
Now he has a warning for the United States. In an interview with the BBC, he shared his perspective.
"Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be," Mr Gorbachev said.
He said before the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, an agreement had been reached with Iran, India, Pakistan and the US.
"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 neighbours and with both the US 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 terrorising Afghanistan and more and more of Pakistan," Mr Gorbachev said. Because of this, it would be more difficult for the US to get out of the situation.
My musings on current events, current projects, current anxieties and current delights.
I started this under the Bush regime when any grain of sand thrown into the gears of the over-reaching imperial state seemed worthwhile.
I have worked to elect more and better Democrats -- and to hammer the shit out of them once we get them in office so they do the things their constituents want and need. It's a big job.
It's mighty uncomfortable, getting by in a declining empire where elites maintain their power by massaging our mean streaks and mobilizing our resentments. This country and this "civilization" may be on their way out, but there's nothing else to do except try to make them as humane as possible along the way. That and to celebrate the extraordinary love that sometimes accompanies our species' bumbling way.
And the end hasn't come til it comes, ever.
Visitors will find a lot of commentary on books I'm reading here. I am very intentionally reading more offline these days because when it feels hard to find direction, it's time to learn something new.
I'm a progressive political activist who runs trails and climbs mountains whenever any are available. I've had the privilege to work for justice in Central America (Nicaragua and El Salvador), in South Africa, in the fields of California with the United Farmworkers Union, and in the cities and schools of my own country. I'm a Christian of the Episcopalian flavor; we think and argue a lot. For work, I've done a bit of it all: run an old fashioned switch-board; remodeled buildings and poured concrete; edited and published periodicals, reports and books; and organized for electoral campaigns. I am currently an independent consultant to organizations seeking "help when you have to make a fight."