More than ten-thousand Afghan, NATO, and U.S. forces are taking part in a counter-insurgency operation in the southern Afghan provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Zabul. These provinces have been the stronghold of remnants of the ousted radical Islamic Taleban regime. The operation is intended to extend the reach of the Afghan government and to expand humanitarian and reconstruction efforts.
Colonel Tom Collins, a U.S. Army spokesman, says the goal is not just military:
"Operation Mountain Thrust is not about just killing and capturing extremists. It is very much about establishing the conditions where the [Afghan] government can extend its authority into areas where it does not currently have a presence."
Mohammed Diaoud, the governor of Helmand Province, told a reporter that the Taleban "threaten people. They kill people. And sometimes they cut their heads off." He says, "We should also say that the Taleban is getting ready for this offensive. It's not like they are all sleeping." But Governor Diaoud says the Taleban do not "have the ability to fight against such an organized operation."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that in Afghanistan and elsewhere, people deserve to and desire to live in freedom." The U.S., she says, "is standing with them all across the Middle East and we're standing with them shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan and in Iraq. In those two countries alone," says Secretary of State Rice, the U.S. has "given more than fifty-five million people an opportunity to flourish in freedom."
President George W. Bush says "history has taught us that free societies yield. . . .peace." He says, "We want peace for our children, and we want peace for the Afghan children, as well."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.