WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that despite Afghanistan’s rising opium production and violence in the south, “the trajectory is a hopeful and promising one” five years after the Taliban’s fall.

Rumsfeld, in an opinion piece in Saturday’s edition of The Washington Post, said Afghanistan’s economy has tripled in five years, its forces have grown by 1,000 soldiers a month, the number of students in school has grown fivefold and 80 percent of the population has access to basic health care, up from 8 percent.

Ticking off more progress, he cited the building of 25 courthouses, a 70 percent jump in revenue and even Coca-Cola’s opening of a $25 million bottling plant in Kabul.

“Building a new nation is never a straight, steady climb upward,” he wrote. “Today can sometimes look worse than yesterday – or even two months ago. What matters is the overall trajectory.”

Rumsfeld touched on only a few of the setbacks, including a surge in the drug production that the Taliban had almost wiped out five years earlier.

But the defense secretary glossed over other dangers: The Taliban has taken control large parts of the countryside, more than 3,000 people have been killed in rising violence this year, and militants have been assassinating political figures, burning down schools and creating havoc with roadside bombs.


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