Successful Afghan Elections Prove Critics Wrong, Rumsfeld Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2005 The successful parliamentary elections in Afghanistan Sept. 18 have proven wrong all critics of U.S. efforts in that country, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon news briefing today.
Critics of the war in Afghanistan were not just wrong, they were harmful because they made the cause seem hopeless, Rumsfeld said. The millions of Afghan citizens who turned out to vote proved them wrong, and terrorists weren't able to affect the elections, he said.
"Terrorists have done everything in their power to try to intimidate the millions of Afghan voters and the literally thousands of candidates from participating in their elections," he said. "And they failed this week, just as they failed in the successful presidential elections."
The magnitude of what happened in Afghanistan should not be ignored, Rumsfeld said. A country that was host to Osama bin Laden and terrorist training camps and endured decades of civil war, Soviet occupation, drought and Taliban brutality is now a democracy that fights terrorists, he said.
The very critics who foretold doom in Afghanistan are saying the same thing about Iraq, but they will be proven wrong once again, the secretary said. The Iraqis have already formed a government that incorporates the views of the different factions, have held representative elections, and have drafted a constitution that includes respect for individual rights, he said. The Iraqis and the coalition have a plan that will continue to develop the country, he said.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be looked back on with perspective, Rumsfeld noted, and will be remembered for their greater purpose.
"(History) will not be (about) the daily violence or short-term setbacks, nor which person won the battle for a daily headline by predicting doom and gloom over and over," he said. "Instead, it will show that the battle in Afghanistan and Iraq is tough and ugly to be sure, but that America was on freedom's side. And it will remember the millions of people who have been freed and the hundreds of thousands who helped them achieve that freedom."