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.
This San Francisco purveyor of graffiti has it right. When times are bleak -- when country and planet sink under the barely restrained sway of greed, raw power, and fear -- it's time to restate what matters.
I write here to preserve and kindle hope for a national and global turn toward multi-racial, economically egalitarian, gender non-constricting, woman affirming, and peace choosing democracy that preserves the habitability of earth for all. There's a big order -- but what else is there to do but struggle for this? Not much.
Topics range from the minuscule to the transcendent to the global, from dire to delightful. I am not an optimist, but I refuse to allow myself to wallow within the easy bias that everything is going to always be awful. Good also happens; love lives too.
I've been yammering here about activism, politics, history, racism and other occasional horrors and pleasures since 2005. I intend to continue as long as the opportunity exists. In this time, that means activism and chronicling resistance. Perhaps it always has, one way and another.
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. Will work for justice.