U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made his eleventh trip to Afghanistan since the U.S.-led coalition helped the Afghan people oust the Taleban regime in 2001. Mr. Rumsfeld said that Afghanistan has made great progress in the past five years.
Only a few years ago, said Mr. Rumsfeld, "al-Qaida and the Taleban [were] brutalizing the Afghan people. Today," he says, "the terrorist training camps have been shut down, soccer stadiums [football] are being used for soccer [football] instead of executions. . . . This is certainly a tribute to the people of Afghanistan."
In recent weeks, more than ten-thousand coalition troops have been sweeping across southern Afghanistan. Six-hundred people, mostly Taleban fighters, have been killed in the fighting. Mr. Rumsfeld says that the insurgents remain determined, but they will be defeated:
"They are not going to succeed. They tried to succeed in preventing the Afghan people from voting, from crafting a constitution, from electing a parliament, from electing a president, and they failed in every instance. But they are determined to try to prevent a success here."
Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, says, "Without the U.S., all of this achievement would not be there. Rather," he says, "we would have been living a very miserable life." Mr. Karzai says, "The war against terrorism is not losing; it has won already. The remnants are there that we must clean out."
NATO is taking a greater role in providing security in Afghanistan. By the end of the year the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan will have some fifteen-thousand troops. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says this increase "brings the interest and commitment of some twenty-six nations that are determined to see Afghanistan succeed."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.