"We just need to be sure that the final result does not look like a humiliating defeat: to have lost so many men and now abandoned it all... in short, we have to get out of there."
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev - the speaker of those words - was understandably alarmed.
It was June 1986, almost a year since he had taken the decision to start withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan and hand over more responsibility to the government there.
But Soviet losses, already above 10,000, kept mounting.
With conflicting signals this week about the direction of Western policy in Afghanistan, there is a hint of the same kind of panic and indecision.