Victory in war breeds new ambitions. In spite of the political disarray to which the military breakthrough has led in Afghanistan, the downcast mood of only 10 days ago in Washington has been replaced by a feeling of confidence.
Asked to list the requirements for a successful United Nations operation in Afghanistan, a veteran of of the world body's efforts in East Timor and Bosnia raised a warning forefinger. "Number one - don't do it," he said.
Again and again on the way south from Kabul to Ghazni we heard a sound like that which might come from an orchestra of buzz saws. The big Soviet helicopters used the highway as a guide then turned with lumbering grace into the valleys and hills to east and west.
There is a recurring delusion that most problems in the world could be solved quite easily if the west would look beyond its narrow interests, try harder, and make up for the mistakes and crimes of the past.