Astonishing news from Afghanistan, where talks between the government and Taliban negotiator Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour have run into a small difficulty...
"it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all... United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little...
...“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”
To reiterate: some geezer - God knows who - was allowed to repeatedly meet with senior officials including Hamid Karzai, was fed bagfuls of cash and then legged it, because almost ten years into a major war, we still clearly have no idea who we are fighting.
You do have to wonder - see when the Taliban kept telling the press that they weren't negotiating with the government, did military intelligence just think they were playing an elaborate double bluff?
Elsewhere, a Times leader writer today* pens a column expressing astonishment that Iraq has refused to send a representative to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in honour of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. After wiping his laptop clean of his own exploded brains, the Times man declares his disappointment that, after thousands of coalition deaths in a trillion-dollar war for Iraqi freedom, the Iraqis have decided to side with the forces of authoritarianism.
I paraphrase, but the author asks Who would've thought this would happen? To which I can only respond, Anyone who has watched in alarm as the Iraqi government has more or less openly played up its authoritarian credentials and been denounced for arbitrary detention, torture and various other violations by those awful Commie human rights orgs.
The Times itself has reported on the Iraqi government's behaviour, IIRC, and I can't think of any reason why any clued-up observer would consider their self-interested decision to give the Nobel committee the bodyswerve surprising. It's notable is that the journo in question isn't merely surprised - this really is a massive, earth-shaking WTF?!!?! moment for him.
If I hadn't cracked open a newspaper in the last ten years, these stories might give me the impression that neither our military forces nor the national paper of record had a damn clue what was going on with our wars. Having kept up with it day by day, I've no idea what to make of this.
Anyone know how much lead there is in British tapwater these days?
*(The leader article is behind the paywall and I don't have it to hand, but I'll chuck a couple of choice quotes into the comments section tomorrow, so you can see I'm not exaggerating at all).