Nevertheless, by spring 2002 the United States found its own troops stretched thin in Afghanistan and sought more Allied help. By May 2002 more than two-thirds of American's NATO allies had sent soldiers to Afghanistan, and there were more European forces on the ground than American ones. The Europeans play an even more important role when it comes to long-term efforts to rebuild the war-shattered country (Asmus 21). Europe's lack of participation in the US war against terrorism as a consequence of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington. In the first phase of the war, initiated in Afghanistan in early October 2001 it was, more or less the US alone that conducted the execution of military operations. The military campaign as a whole was driven by sophisticated US firepower that in practice excludes effective cooperation with European forces, which are not equipped to fight at such a distance from their homes bases. The war against terrorism in Afghanistan brought home to most EU member states the realization that many of their fundamental foreign policy interest are similar. At the Laeken European Council on 14 and 15 December 2001, in Belgium, the European Union announced that it would send 3,000 to 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to serve as a stability force for the new government in Kabul. But while some European delegates said that the EU, with the decision to send a multilateral peace-keeping force to Afghanistan, had taken its first step toward projecting military power around the world and that the EU is seizing a political opportunity, other delegations played down the importance of the EU's participation in the stability force. While invigorating the NATO partnership was heartening on one level, on another, the European offers appeared to be a devious way for them to exercise leverage over military operations in Afghanistan. Granted, military cooperation could mobilize European public opinion in favor of the war, an outcome welcome to the U.S. military. The European allies stood behind the United States in the Afghanistan campaign, and the United States in turn accepted allied aid in the region. By contrast, Europeans wanted to have a voice in the conduct of war on terrorism, while the Americans wished to avoid a sense of isolation in conducting the assault against the Taliban. The differences, for the moment, were reconcilable as 2001 came to a close. On the other hand, one U.S. political commentator, Linda Robinson, from US News and World Report, said caustically that the European had come to see their global mission as embodying civilization, not defending it. This may or may not true. What is clear in any case is that whether Europe will count for more in terms of maintaining international stability is one of the most important issues of the coming years (Pye 285). The Europeans have played a significant role in Afghanistan, the struggle continues to stabilize the country in the wake of the October 2001 U.S. lead overthrow of the Taliban regime that had provided safe haven and training areas for the global terrorist organization Al Qaeda. In 2006, NATO forces, mainly European, took over the peace-building mission in Afghanistan, but not the counterinsurgency combat operations still run by the United States.