April 9, 2007 — -- Amid reports that thousands of suicide bombers and insurgents were getting ready to strike in Afghanistan, ABC's Diane Sawyer traveled to the country to talk to its first elected president, Hamid Karzai.
The Taliban and al Qaeda have warned of a spring offensive to be carried out by 6,000 insurgents and 1,000 suicide bombers, saying they will turn Afghanistan into a graveyard.
Karzai, however, said though his country needed more help, the United States had not failed Afghanistan and the Taliban and al Qaeda had been beaten.
"Neither has the U.S. failed, nor the Taliban coming back," he said. "Al Qaeda is defeated."
Karzai called the reports of thousands of suicide bombers a "sign of desperation."
"You kill yourself if you're very disappointed. You have no hope of life," he said. "It's a disgrace. … The majority of them are drug addicts, desperately ill people and those who have no hope of life. Their families are paid some money and said this man is going to die anyway."
Afghanistan has endured more than three decades of conflict, from the Soviets in the 1980s, to the Taliban in the '90s, to the Americans that ran them out in 2002. Karzai said that while suicide bombers and insurgents had hurt Afghanistan, they would not hinder its progress.
"It hurts us. It kills our people. It hurts our children, but it does not stop the progress we are making as a nation," he said.
Military experts say that 30,000 American troops are not enough to ensure peace in Afghanistan and that the country needs about 80,000 more American and NATO soldiers. Karzai agreed that Afghanistan could benefit from more force.
"We don't have enough manpower or enough equipment, or air power to respond to certain situations, and I believe we should add that power to the fight in Afghanistan," he said. "That's a military matter that the Ministry of Defense, and somebody should say, 'What else do you need?' But the overall picture I can tell you is that we need more forces and more ability to project force."
As Afghanistan's first elected official, Karzai was built up to be his country's George Washington. Now, some are calling him an ineffective conciliator lacking in muscle.
"Muscle is a different issue. Muscle has to be developed. Muscles we don't have," Karzai said in response. "If you're talking of muscle as the ability to deliver service as you do in America or as you do in Germany, or even as you do in Pakistan. … That we don't have. Yes, we are better than we were four years ago, much, much better."
Karzai admitted that he couldn't keep terrorists and insurgents from striking. He advocated that the coalition investigate the source of terrorism to eradicate it altogether.
"They should go to the source of it. They should not look for the effects of it, for the results of it in the Afghan villages, and in the process, get Afghan women and children hurt," he said. "I'm hurt by that and I don't like it."