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Bush On NATO In Afghanistan

In Riga, Latvia, to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, conference, President George W. Bush says, "The basic responsibility of this alliance is to defend. . . .against the threats of a new century:

"We're in a long struggle against terrorists and extremists who follow a hateful ideology and seek to establish a totalitarian empire from Spain to Indonesia. We fight against the extremists who desire safe havens and are willing to kill innocents anywhere to achieve their objectives."

Three years ago, NATO took an unprecedented step when it sent a force to defend an emerging democracy in Afghanistan. It was the first time NATO deployed troops outside Europe. Mr. Bush says, "Since taking command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO has expanded it from a small force that was operating only in Kabul into a robust force that conducts security operations in all of Afghanistan":

"NATO is helping to train the Afghan National Army. The alliance is operating twenty-five provincial reconstruction teams that are helping the central government extend its reach into distant regions of that country. At this moment, all twenty-six NATO allies, and eleven partner nations are contributing forces to NATO's mission in Afghanistan."

Remnants of the ousted Taleban regime, al-Qaida terrorists, drug traffickers, and local warlords, says Mr. Bush "remain active and committed to destroying democracy in Afghanistan":

"For NATO to succeed, its commanders on the ground must have the resources and flexibility they need to do their jobs. The alliance was founded on a clear principle: an attack on one is an attack on all. That principle holds true whether the attack is on our home soil, or on our forces deployed on a NATO mission abroad. Today Afghanistan is NATO's most important military operation, and by standing together in Afghanistan, we'll protect our people, defend our freedom, and send a clear message to the extremists [that] the forces of freedom and decency will prevail."

Mr. Bush says because of NATO's effort, "Afghanistan has gone from a totalitarian nightmare to a free nation."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.