From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO: As we get further from 9/11, people increasingly wonder if our security is really affected by what happens in Afghanistan. They wonder if the price we are paying is worth it. And they wonder if this fight can actually be won.
I fully understand these questions. But like most people in this room, I am a politician. I believe strongly that it is our responsibility, as politicians, to lead. To explain to our populations what we need to do together.
And on this operation, my view is very clear. This mission must succeed. It can succeed. And if we are resolute, it will succeed.
It must succeed because Afghanistan is still the front line in the fight against international terrorism. Less than ten years ago, Afghanistan was the training camp for international terrorists from over a dozen countries. When the Taliban were toppled they lost that safe haven. But they are fighting now to get it back.
Does it matter? Let me ask you this: how many people would have died a few weeks ago in Times Square if that car bomb had gone off? How many citizens from how many countries around the world would have been victims? We were all very lucky when that bomb failed. But we should not be blind to what it meant.
The fact is that if we were to walk away prematurely, the Taliban would be back. So would Al-Qaeda. Terrorism would spread through Central Asia and into Europe. Instability would spread to neighbouring Pakistan – nuclear armed Pakistan – and the wider region. And we would once again face attacks in our airports, in our metros and in our streets. That is a cost we simply cannot afford.
Excerpt from speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assemby. (photo: NATO)