U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood says the U.S. is committed to helping Afghanistan “destroy international terror cells and support bases” and “defeat the Taliban insurgency.” Another important U.S. goal, says Mr. Wood, “is to support institutional democracy and the rule of law” in Afghanistan.
To those ends, said Ambassador Wood, the U.S. provided assistance for Afghanistan worth more than twenty-four billion dollars between 2002 and 2007. About fifty-percent of those funds went for security assistance, forty-percent for development, and ten percent for counter-narcotics efforts. The assistance provided to Afghanistan by the U.S. in 2007 almost equaled that provided in the previous five years.
“The international community has more than forty-thousand troops here in Afghanistan,” said Ambassador Wood. “The United States provides about half of those young men and women.” President George W. Bush praised those serving in Afghanistan:
“In Afghanistan, America, our twenty- six NATO allies, and thirteen partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al-Qaida is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope.”
Ambassador Wood said that since 2002, per capita income in Afghanistan has more than doubled. More than eighty percent of Afghans now have access to basic health care. And more children are in school today than ever before in the history of Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood said Afghanistan continues to face serious threats from Taliban insurgents, al-Qaida terrorists, drug traffickers, and warlords. The U.S., its allies, and neighbors like Pakistan can do more to help.
But the key to Afghanistan’s future, he said, lies with the Afghan people. “If Afghans are united, there is no force that can push them off the road to progress,” said Ambassador Wood. “But if Afghans are not united,” he said, “if each Afghan is looking for what’s best for him at the cost of his neighbor, and if each community is looking for what’s best for it at the cost of its neighboring community, and if each tribe is looking for what’s best for it at the cost of other tribes, then Afghanistan will be vulnerable.”