Clouseau Wept

I dunno what to say:

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, 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.”

American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership.

Mind you, we justified our continued existence in Afghanistan and the deaths of soldiers partially on the notion that we were possibly making headway in these “negotiations.”

Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?






102 replies
  1. 1
    Sour Kraut says:

    Mistakes were made, you can’t make an omelet…etc etc.

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    Well, it does seem we won over the grifter population in Afghanistan. Maybe the dude’s been reading Sarah Palin’s tweets.

  3. 3
    Bulworth says:

    The next six months will be critical…

  4. 4
    WyldPirate says:

    Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?

    As many as they need to keep us safe from the terrorists, you goddamned commie pinko.

    Now shut up and assume the position and get it through your head that we have to cut entitlements and the welfare state so we have enough money for the nanny-state to protect us and to enrich our betters.

  5. 5
    artem1s says:

    movie script! starring George Clooney and John Goodman, directed by the Coen Brothers. gold baby, gold.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    how about we …. get the fuck out of the nation building business ??

  7. 7
    BR says:

    From the archives:

    Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US by Dmitry Orlov:

    US faces many of the same problems that contributed to the Soviet collapse:
    __
    1. Unwinnable wars (Afghanistan, Iraq… Iran?)
    2. Declining oil production (Soviet oil production peaked a couple of years before collapse)
    3. Out of control military budgets
    4. Unsustainable deficits and foreign debt
    5. Balky, unresponsive, corrupt political system, incapable of reform
    6. Delusions of grandeur prevent honest discussion of problems

  8. 8
    Poopyman says:

    I was thinking more Joseph Heller/Catch 22 than Clouseau, but it’ll do.

  9. 9
    KJ says:

    I would say this episode underscores just how futile things are in Afghanistan. Time to pack up and bring our troops home.

  10. 10
    4tehlulz says:

    Don’t worry; I have a feeling North Korea might accelerate the withdrawal timetable a tad.

  11. 11
    Ben says:

    Wow. I wonder how much money, exactly, it takes before the people passing out bribes in Afghanistan say “a lot of money”.

    Are we talking hundreds of thousands? millions?

  12. 12
    Poopyman says:

    @BR:
    … And will we have militant religionists in our southern provinces engaging in acts of terror, like in Chechnya?

  13. 13
    BH says:

    KJ nailed it. Time to say “screw this” and get the hell out.

  14. 14

    So who played Karzai in this episode: Larry, Curly or Moe?

  15. 15
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?

    Assuming the question is not rhetorical, the answer is infinite money. It will always be impossible to accurately identify anyone correctly, which is why the TSA screening will never completely work, this will never work.

    Anytime you are on defense, trying to guess what the offense is trying to do, you can never be completely certain. That’s why virus writers will always win.

  16. 16
    Suck It Up! says:

    I bet money Karzai had a hand in this charade. You can’t just walk in off the street and do what this guy did w/o some backing.

  17. 17
    Ash Can says:

    @BR: And Osama bin Laden will be the foreign Ronald Reagan who claims credit for the collapse of the U.S.

    (ETA: Actually, the real Ronald Reagan could claim his share of the credit too.)

  18. 18
    BR says:

    @Poopyman:

    Who knows. Interestingly, in Orlov’s other talks / writings he talks about how as things crumbled, ethnic mafias each grabbed a slice of the market and ran it for a number of years. I wonder what that maps to here.

    The whole thing he describes is fascinating and a bit eerie in the parallels he draws. I always found the expression “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it” a bit glib, but it may still be very true.

  19. 19
    geg6 says:

    Yeah, that Patraeus. He’s our brilliant savior, isn’t he?

    Fuck it. Time to get out. I’m done with any and all theater (including wars) to battle terrorism. It’s all bullshit and the thing we can do to best assure our safety is to stay the hell out of ME countries. Including Israel. Fuck them all, I say.

  20. 20
    General Stuck says:

    Anytime you are on defense, trying to guess what the offense is trying to do, you can never be completely certain.

    sounds vaguely Cheneyesque

  21. 21
    BR says:

    @Ash Can:

    Maybe so, though if/when we tank, we’ll end up taking down a lot of the world’s economies with us. The question is whether countries like Germany and China will be affected or not.

  22. 22
    WyldPirate says:

    @cleek:

    how about we …. get the fuck out of the nation building business ??

    Ah, thanks for reminding me, cleek.

    Turns out I was right about Obama extending the useless waste of money and lives that is our involvement in Afghanistan until 2014.

    Personally, I doubt that we are out of there by then. In 2013 we’ll have President Palin or Huckabee or some other clueless moron that will want to get Armageddon started before the end of their first term.

  23. 23

    @Ben:

    Wow. I wonder how much money, exactly, it takes before the people passing out bribes in Afghanistan say “a lot of money”.

    That is a very good question. After the “money footballs” used in the early days of the Iraq War wherein 9 billion dollars just disappeared it could actually be “a lot of money”. As in, money enough to fund healthcare for millions of children … but, hey, better to throw it away over there, than throw it away here at home.

  24. 24
    Poopyman says:

    @BR:

    … ethnic mafias each grabbed a slice of the market and ran it for a number of years. I wonder what that maps to here.

    Business sectors; financial, healthcare, energy.

  25. 25
    dr. bloor says:

    Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?

    Obviously, hundreds of billions of dollars a year more will be essential so that we can conclusively identify Mullah Mansour and conduct negotiations with him. Or at least find a more convincing imposter.

    /National Security State Budget Director

  26. 26
    roshan says:

    __

    Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?

    We will tell ya, but only after you let us touch your junk.

  27. 27
    WyldPirate says:

    @geg6:

    Yeah, that Patraeus. He’s our brilliant savior, isn’t he?

    Since when was Petraeus promoted to Commander in Chief?

  28. 28

    July 2011 is on like Donkey Kong, folks.

  29. 29
    Svensker says:

    Love the title.

    Idiots.

  30. 30
    WyldPirate says:

    @Poopyman:

    And will we have militant religionists in our southern provinces engaging in acts of terror, like in Chechnya?

    Fuck, we already have that going on, Poopyman.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    @BR:
    That is so depressing. But he’s right. The US will fail. The question is when.

  32. 32
    Dennis SGMM says:

    We’re supposed to go on believing that they can accurately identify and therefore blow up an insurgent from a drone at altitude and yet they couldn’t accurately identify this joker when they were sitting across the table from him?

    The government can’t possibly be lying to us.

  33. 33

    I’d say that this is excellent news for John McCain, who will kick off his campaign for the presidency in six months by declaring that he, and only he, can save us from the impostors of the Taliban because he, and only he, can tell when someone is pretending to be someone else because they giggle when they shake your hand.

  34. 34
    BR says:

    @Violet:

    Yeah, I’ve finally gotten to a mental place where I can accept these depressing, but obvious truths without it really demoralizing me. Like this line, which is an obvious truth:

    One such untenable arrangement rests on the notion that it is possible to perpetually borrow more and more money from abroad, to pay for more and more energy imports, while the price of these imports continues to double every few years. Free money with which to buy energy equals free energy, and free energy does not occur in nature. This must therefore be a transient condition. When the flow of energy snaps back toward equilibrium, much of the US economy will be forced to shut down.

    Orlov had one other classic post, the five stages of collapse. Here are the first two, and it seems we’re moving through stage one right now and on to stage two, with places like Greece and Ireland and Iceland leading the way, since they’re in the same trap we are:

    Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out, and access to capital is lost.
    __
    Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down, and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

  35. 35
    Culture of Truth says:

    “Experts say he was, in fact, a woman from Manitoba named ‘Vicki’.”

  36. 36
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Culture of Truth:
    I heard that it was OBL: he bet one of his buddies a case of hummus that he could get over.

  37. 37
    dr. bloor says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    OK, we have today’s Winner of the Internets.

  38. 38
    gene108 says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    From what I’ve read, July 2011 will be the beginning of a draw down and transitioning to Afghani forces. It will not be the beginning of a total withdrawal from Afghanistan. The goal posts for what the draw down in July 2011 will be have been moved in several public statements, but I doubt we’ll see further escalation.

    @WyldPirate:

    Personally, I doubt that we are out of there by then. In 2013 we’ll have President Palin or Huckabee or some other clueless moron that will want to get Armageddon started before the end of their first term.

    I think Obama doesn’t get enough credit for ending combat operations in Iraq, is because the Republicans who were running in 2007 and 2008 for President, refused to even contemplate the idea of ending combat operations in Iraq. Even Hillary was non-committal. Obama was pretty clear on a 16 month timeline and he stuck to it.

    I’m pretty sure he also doesn’t want endless war in Afghanistan and will be working for a way out, sooner rather than later.

    I agree the Republicans will just keep us in perpetual war forever, because “cutting and running” from Afghanistan means you hate America, love terrorists, and want to convert America to Sharia law.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Poopyman:

    … And will we have militant religionists in our southern provinces engaging in acts of terror, like in Chechnya?

    Chechnya has far more to do with nationalism than religion. They don’t want their own republic because they’re Muslims — they want it because other ethnicities got them in the breakup of the Soviet Union and now they want their own.

    The only thing religion has to do with it is that’s how they can get funding.

  40. 40
    Svensker says:

    @gene108:

    I’m pretty sure he also doesn’t want endless war in Afghanistan and will be working for a way out, sooner rather than later.

    Well, yuh, because we gotta get the war on in Yemen and Pakistan.

  41. 41
    Culture of Truth says:

    “In retrospect, officials concede they should have been more cautious when Mansour wrote a note demanding more money for the Taliban leadership “’cause beer money dont grow on trees, yo”

  42. 42
    WyldPirate says:

    @gene108:

    I think Obama doesn’t get enough credit for ending combat operations in Iraq, is because the Republicans who were running in 2007 and 2008 for President, refused to even contemplate the idea of ending combat operations in Iraq.

    gene108, I may be mistaken, but I think the withdrawal agreement was signed and in place before Obama took office. I agree that Obama should get credit for sticking to it (or if I’m mistaken, coming up with the timetable) and I agree with your criticism of the other 2008 Presidential candidates.

  43. 43

    I dunno what to say:

    “Oh shit” covers it, I think.

  44. 44

    I realize that a lot of very serious stuff was going on at the same time, but this particular scam is funny.

    “Listen to the big boys, Linda Ruth. They know what they are talking about.”

    Idiots.

  45. 45
    Culture of Truth says:

    “In fact, one analyst at the CIA, who was ignored, did raise concerns early on that is was unlikely a genuine warlord would carry around a business card identifying the holder as “MULLA MANSOUR – TALIBAN” particularly given that the phone number was traced to a Pizza Hut in Hackensack, NJ.”

  46. 46
    Poopyman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Granted, Chechnya’s not a perfect analogy, but close enough to raise the point about our own situation. And, as @WyldPirate: indicated, it’s already going on – at a low level, for now.

  47. 47
    Unabogie says:

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance this was the Yes Men, and we can all laugh until we cry?

  48. 48
    geg6 says:

    @WyldPirate:

    He’s the man in charge on the scene. If he can’t even figure when he’s being spoofed, exactly how is Obama supposed to?

  49. 49

    @gene108: I’m curious to know what you thought I meant, since everything you stated is something I already knew.

  50. 50
    Amir_Khalid says:

    An episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, or from Get Smart? If the Americans are lucky, it might turn out that he was an ISI plant. It would be humiliating beyond measure to have been conned by some grifter off the streets.

    The Americans might be able to salvage something from this embarrassment if they arrest Mr Impostor the next time he shows up for talks — which he won’t, of course, now that he knows they know.

    As it is, they fell for this con because they wanted to believe, against all the evidence, that someone in the Taliban was willing to negotiate peace with them. The Taliban’s deal is that they have no interest in accommodating any foreign power. They want to chase all foreigners out of their 7th century fundamentalist paradise, their recreation of Islam as they imagine it under the Prophet’s own rule. They accepted American money and weapons back in the 1980s to chase out the Russians. Now the foreigners they want to chase out are the Americans. America has nothing to offer them now that they want.

    It is particularly depressing that after a quarter-century of dealing with these people, as friend and as foe, the Americans still seem to have no real idea what they really want.

  51. 51
    WyldPirate says:

    @geg6:
    That wasn’t my point. But I suspect you know that.

    My point was that it is a gigantic waste of time being over there and it wasn’t Petraeus’ decision to escalate our involvement and continue to waste billions per month and the lives of US soldiers in a completely fruitless and foolish endeavor.

    And the buck stops where? Also, too.

  52. 52
    wasabi gasp says:

    Looks like Frank Zappa… check!

  53. 53
    gene108 says:

    @Svensker:

    I really don’t know why Yemen is turning into a hot-bed of al-Qaeda sponsorship and I think the targeted killings are doing as much damage as they are good, but the problem we have in Yemen (I’m guessing) is the local police force may not be interested in cracking down on terrorists, which leaves us at a dilemma for how to handle a place where known terrorists are training to attack us.

    Pakistan is a mess.

    They’ve been officially giving “moral support” to terrorists attacking India for 20 years now. They have a crazy bug-up their butt about the fact a Muslim majority state, Kashmir, is part of India and not Pakistan.

    They also got inundated with a massive refugee crisis in the 1980’s, during the Soviet-Afghan war, with millions of native Afghani’s living in and growing up in refugee camps. Part of the reason for backing the Taliban was to end the civil wars in Afghanistan and move the refugees back. Unfortunately the other objective was to give “moral support” for terrorist training programs in Afghanistan, to be used against Indian targets, as evidenced by the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight in 1998 and the Kargil invasion in 1999.

    Most Pakistani’s aren’t fanatics, but they’ve been raised with a deep seated resentment towards Kashmir being a part of India. Only when the terrorists started targeting Pakistani targets, did they start wanting something done about those guys.

    You really aren’t going to get Pakistan to give up their now unofficial “moral support” of terrorists, until they get the crazy bug-out of their butts about India, which I don’t see happening any time soon.

    During this past summer’s flooding, India offered token aid of $5 million dollars to Pakistan as a good will gesture to a its neighbor dealing with a massive crisis. Pakistan first refused, but came under U.S. pressure and eventually accepted it.

    I just don’t see Pakistan being willing to deal with a terrorist problem it has been incubating for 20 years, though I don’t think they are as unstable as U.S. media makes them out to be, which again leads us into a dilemma of how to deal with a threat against us, when the nation harboring the threat is unwilling or incapable of handling it.

  54. 54
    taylormattd says:

    Hey John, off topic, but the pre-cataclysm patch is going live right now.

    The old world is destroyed. Should be fun :)

    Here is the new cinematic that plays when you patch up and load the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    @Joseph Nobles: I thought you had implied, we’d be engaged in combat operations or possibly an escalation of the war in Afghanistan for ever and ever. Guess I misunderstood.

  56. 56
    elmo says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Chechnya Texas has far more to do with nationalism racism than religion. They don’t want their own republic because they’re Muslims Christians—they want it because other ethnicities got them in the breakup of the Soviet Union and now they want their own. they want to be able to deport all of the brown people.

    Sorry, just having a thought experiment. Now I’m depressed.

  57. 57
    BR says:

    @elmo:

    In this talk, Orlov mentions that the Chechens ran kiosks after the Soviet collapse where you stuff a bunch of cash through a metal slot and someone would shove a bottle of vodka back. I wonder if we’ll see that happen in Texas, except maybe with ditch weed instead of vodka.

  58. 58
    Brachiator says:

    @gene108:

    I think Obama doesn’t get enough credit for ending combat operations in Iraq, is because the Republicans who were running in 2007 and 2008 for President, refused to even contemplate the idea of ending combat operations in Iraq. Even Hillary was non-committal. Obama was pretty clear on a 16 month timeline and he stuck to it.

    Obama also does not get credit from those for whom the only acceptable option is the immediate and total withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. The only up side to this is that it gives everybody something to be unhappy about with respect to Obama’s military policy.

  59. 59
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Yes but they’ve now unmasked the number two Taliban leader impersonator, so they’ve clearly got them on the run.

  60. 60
    BR says:

    @Brachiator:

    Nah, there was a middle ground – the Biden plan, which wouldn’t have been a full withdrawal, but would have been tactical action only, IIRC.

  61. 61
    Poopyman says:

    @BR: Hmmm. A Chechen glory hole?

    At the rate we’re going, in Texas they’d be stuffing greenbacks through a slot to get a half pound of corn meal.

  62. 62
    BR says:

    @Poopyman:

    Greenbacks? Nope. Ameros.

  63. 63
    WyldPirate says:

    @Brachiator:

    Obama also does not get credit from those for whom the only acceptable option is the immediate and total withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

    And the escalation is going so swimmingly well as evidenced by the clown show that Cole posted, the flattening of villagers homes and statements from our military that doing so causes the populace to “interact with the Afghani gangsters Government” our military is propping up.

    Nice attempt at lame-assed justification and apology there, Mr. Obot…er, Brachiator.

  64. 64
    frostys says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nationalism? Sounds like some Southern Provinces fairly close to home.

  65. 65

    They should privatize. That’ll fix everything.

  66. 66
    Svensker says:

    @gene108:

    I just don’t see Pakistan being willing to deal with a terrorist problem it has been incubating for 20 years, though I don’t think they are as unstable as U.S. media makes them out to be, which again leads us into a dilemma of how to deal with a threat against us, when the nation harboring the threat is unwilling or incapable of handling it.

    Perhaps if we stopped meddling in the Middle East, people who live in that region wouldn’t want to try to hurt us. Or is it really our freedoms that bug them?

    As for the Kashmiri problem, that’s between India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Why it should be the U.S. taxpayers’ problem is beyond me.

  67. 67
    gene108 says:

    @Brachiator: Pity you can’t appreciate the fact President Obama took withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the ending of combat operations, which could’ve become a politically volatile situation, and managed it so smoothly there was basically no way for anyone to mount an sort of opposition to it, except, I guess, by people holding your views.

  68. 68

    @gene108: Oh, yeah. I meant the beginning of withdrawal will happen now, lock, stock, and barrel.

  69. 69
    Culture of Truth says:

    I really don’t see why this is such a problem.

    Why don’t we just announce a deal with this guy to end the war, and leave? Really, in the end, what’s the difference?

  70. 70
    Bullsmith says:

    Well obviously we’ll just have to go back and do the war over from the beginning. This time it should start with a Surge!

  71. 71
    gene108 says:

    @Svensker:

    Perhaps if we stopped meddling in the Middle East, people who live in that region wouldn’t want to try to hurt us. Or is it really our freedoms that bug them?

    If the spiritual heart of Islam is in the Middle East, it’s physical body is in Asia, with at least half of all the Muslims in the world living in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

    People in Asia aren’t going to blow themselves up over what’s happening in the Middle East. It’s too far away. So far there has been very little done by people from Asia to attack the U.S., though attitudes in Pakistan seem to have changed over the last 10 years, probably more due to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and closer ties to India, than anything happening in the Middle East.

    As for the Kashmiri problem, that’s between India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Why it should be the U.S. taxpayers’ problem is beyond me.

    The U.S. isn’t involved in the settling Kashmir, unlike the Israel-Palestinian dispute. Pakistan and India want to keep it a bi-lateral affair and do not allow or want other countries to interfere with it.

  72. 72
    BR says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    You know, that’s pretty clever. I like it.

  73. 73
    Culture of Truth says:

    If this were a movie, now would be the time when one character would turn to another and say “who’s to say he isn’t a Taliban leader??” and the other one would say, “but he isn’t!” and the first one would say, “but what if he was??” and they would both go “ahhhh” and look over that the imposter knowingly. Needles to say hilarity ensues.

  74. 74
    Culture of Truth says:

    I posit this guy would already make a better President than Karzai. Throw some epaulets on him and get out of town.

  75. 75
    Tax Analyst says:

    But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, 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.

    They should have caught on to the ruse when “Mr. Mansour” asked them why they weren’t using the “Cone of Silence”.

  76. 76
    Poopyman says:

    @Culture of Truth: Sadly, this cat is already out of the bag. Too bad our Guys on the Ground can’t think as fast as our local -semi_anonymous blogger- genius.

  77. 77
    catclub says:

    I think Clouseau would have proclaimed success at this turn of events. Why can’t we, too?

  78. 78
    elmo says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I love it.

    Then we conclude a deal with the guy under which the Taliban surrenders in exchange for $10,000 and a week with Miss USA. The Taliban protests that he doesn’t speak for them, but we insist that he does, and they can’t prove otherwise.

    We withdraw in apparent smashing victory, hiring SAG extras to wave goodbye and toss flowers and sweets in our wake.

    I can haz Potemkin victory plz?

  79. 79
    El Cid says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    We’re supposed to go on believing that they can accurately identify and therefore blow up an insurgent from a drone at altitude and yet they couldn’t accurately identify this joker when they were sitting across the table from him?

    As in so many parts of life, we gain the ability to see more clearly when we put a little distance between us and what we’re thinking about.

  80. 80
    WyldPirate says:

    @El Cid:

    As in so many parts of life, we gain the ability to see more clearly when we put a little distance between us and what we’re thinking about.

    You know you’re jaded when you can laugh at this statement in the context in which it was made and then not feel bad afterwards.

    FSM forgive me.

  81. 81
    Brachiator says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Nice attempt at lame-assed justification and apology there, Mr. Obot…er, Brachiator.

    Sorry, chum, you lose. You clearly have not read any of my earlier posts. Here’s the thing.

    I give credit to Obama for trying to negotiate an end to the conflict. I give credit to him because this was an opportunity to resolve the conflicts in the region, just as I give credit to him for trying to reach out to Muslims. Yeah, this is idealistic, but I find it far preferable both to the insanity of conservatives, who yearn for a kick-ass American empire, and the insipid neo-isolationism of some liberals and progressives, who don’t give a shit if the rest of the world burns, as long as they can get on their PCs and post impotent snark.

    Also, Obama would never have won the nomination, let alone gained the presidency had his declared policy been to immediately withdraw all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. He would have been kicked to the same curb and dismissed as another feckless radical, like Dennis Kucinich.

    However, the Obama Administration is just as inept at dealing with Pakistan and other players in the region as was Bush and Cheney. It is absurd that they were played like fools by this imposter, but sadly typical. I have consistently been underwhelmed by Obama’s foreign policy team, including Secretary of State Clinton and all the special envoys. They don’t understand the region, underestimate both allies and opponents, and are toyed with by our supposed allies, the Pakistan government.

    I am willing to bet good money that the Pakistan intelligence service knew that the man posing as Mullah Mansour was a fake. And one of the other passages from the story is quite telling:

    At that time, Abdul Ghani Baradar, then the deputy commander of the Taliban, was arrested in a joint C.I.A.-ISI raid in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Although officials from both countries hailed the arrest as a hallmark of American-Pakistani cooperation, Pakistani officials have since indicated that they orchestrated Mr. Baradar’s arrest because he was engaging in peace discussions without the ISI’s permission.

    We cannot win in the region militarily, and the Obama Adminstration’s attempts at diplomacy are being both blocked and mocked. So my conclusion is that US efforts in the region are futile. I would also bet that despite any protestations from the Administration, the US is going to pull more troops out of Afghanistan as our allies, especially the Canadians and the British and others cease their operations there.

    But if the Obama Administration cannot manage an inevitable withdrawal with some finesse, the Republicans will use this as another excuse to unleash cowboy justice on the region to show weak-kneed liberals how it’s done, should they ever gain power again.

    However, even if the US immediately pulled all its forces from the region tomorrow, I don’t think this would make us “safe.” I don’t see Al Qaeda or bin Laden as invincible superfoes; but I don’t see them as melting away even if the US magically became either neutral or isolationist.

    It’s kinda like North Korea, which insists on starting shit whether the US speaks softly or carries a big stick.

  82. 82
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Sigh. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think when we’re contemplating the plot lines of Laurel and Hardy movies as an improvement on the current military strategy, we really should just give up and start over.

  83. 83
    Poopyman says:

    @elmo: The sweetest part of this plan, of course, is when we provide the guy with a fake Miss USA.

  84. 84
    Alwhite says:

    But the really important thing to remember when this all goes so far down the shitter that nobody can deny it any longer:

    THIS IS ALL THE DEMOCRATS FAULT!

    Really, everything was wonderful when Boy Blunder left office and on course to a golden future. I could write the columns that will appear in the WaHoPo or NYHoTimes telling us exactly this.

  85. 85
    WyldPirate says:

    @Brachiator:
    good FSM, but I knew i could count on a load of verbal diarrhea from one of the Obots.

    Sorry, chum, you lose. You clearly have not read any of my earlier posts.

    Oh noes. You mean I lost the internets today?

    I give credit to Obama for trying to negotiate an end to the conflict. I give credit to him because this was an opportunity to resolve the conflicts in the region, just as I give credit to him for trying to reach out to Muslims.

    Hmmm. He “negotiates’ an end to the conflict by adding 100K more troops for a few more years. Nice. That’s so smart when that adds to our presence, pisses off a bunch of locals who a.) haven’t even heard of 9/11 and the Twin Towers or OBL and whose crops we are trampling and whose homes and wedding parties we are blowing up with J-DAMS and Hellfire missiles from 10K feet.

    Hell of a negotiation tactic. Or is that Obama’s “outreach” plan to the local Muslim population?

    Also, Obama would never have won the nomination, let alone gained the presidency had his declared policy been to immediately withdraw all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. He would have been kicked to the same curb and dismissed as another feckless radical, like Dennis Kucinich.

    Who the fuck said he had to do what he promised in his campaign?

    Politicians lie and put weasel words in their campaign statements and “promises” all the time. Nothing was more open to weaseling out of a “campaign promise” than his decision to escalate in Afghanistan. He had a “study” on the issue for 10 motherfucking months.

    But you seem to be satisified that after the fact, and with the foreknowledge of all the history of the region along with the current fuck-ups over there that are being revealed day after day–that Obama needed to do it because he “would never have been elected”? Pardon me, but I expect more out of the leader of the free world than him being a craven politician only concerned with being elected. Especially when he had a ready “out” and his craveness is costing the US 6BN/month and several hundred dead and wounded US soldiers a year.

    We cannot win in the region militarily, and the Obama Adminstration’s attempts at diplomacy are being both blocked and mocked. So my conclusion is that US efforts in the region are futile. I

    For FSM-sake. This was blindingly obvious to anyone that had paid any attention to the Soviet involvement in the region at all. If Obama and his advisors are so goddamned ignorant of history then they fucking well deserve to be “mocked and blocked”.

    But I must admit, I’m a bit confused. Is Obama just politically craven, did he choose bad advisors, or is he ignorant of history or a combination of all three?

    However, even if the US immediately pulled all its forces from the region tomorrow, I don’t think this would make us “safe.” I don’t see Al Qaeda or bin Laden as invincible superfoes; but I don’t see them as melting away even if the US magically became either neutral or isolationist.

    Good goddamn, you said our efforts in the region are futile above. On top of that, there have been reports issued that a.) there are less than 100 AQ in Afghanistan and b.) that both AQ and OBL have long been in Pakistan.

    No one has said that we have to “withdraw immediately”. even with the 30K troops we had there, that many people and that much equipment doesn’t get moved out overnight.

    OTOH, there sure as shit was no reason to escalate and put in 100K troops. That does nothing but help OBL at his mission that he has already fucking accomplished make a huge military giant of a nation spend iteslef into bankruptcy and turn its citzenry into a bunch of bedwetters.

    The world is never safe. there are hazards. The key is to not blindly and wastefully flail around.

  86. 86
    Brachiator says:

    @gene108:

    Pity you can’t appreciate the fact President Obama took withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the ending of combat operations, which could’ve become a politically volatile situation, and managed it so smoothly there was basically no way for anyone to mount an sort of opposition to it, except, I guess, by people holding your views.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I applaud Obama’s efforts here, and thought I made that clear.

  87. 87
    Glen Tomkins says:

    Oh, please!

    “Precisely how many hundreds of billions of dollars a year does the national security state need before it can correctly identify people, btw?”

    Look, if we actually wanted to set up an agency to do what we claim we want our intelligence agencies to do, understand and so predict the behavior of important groups of foreigners, we would not make it secret. Secrecy is the most direct and sure enemy of knowledge. Let people keep their “sources and methods” secret, and of course you’re going to get junk end product. Even if you start out with talented, knowledgable, motivated analysts, the pressure to produce results, when not disciplined by the oxygen of public scrutiny of sources and methods, will cooperate with entropy to ensure that you quickly devolve to your secret intellignece agency just phoning in whatever they figure their customers will want to hear, modified by whatever else will make their own lives easier. Allow the police to use torture, and every case will be solved in time to make it home for dinner.

    We went the oxymoronic “secret intelligence agency” route, so of course we have intelligence agencies totally inept at dealing with the real world. The stories they tell wouildn’t fool anyone who’s actually paying attention. Jeez, how many “al Qaeda #3 men” have they claimed credit for offing? 20? 30? What was your tip-off that they have no idea what they’re talking about? The 30th such claim, or did you pick up on the scam right from the ludicrous idea that al Qaeda would be such as to have any “#3 men”?

    They didn’t know the “real” Mullah Mansour from some fake? Wow! There’s a shock. Now wrap your mind around this. Why would anyone think that there is a “real” Mullah Mansour to have gotten IDed wrong? I know, I know. “Mullah Mansour”, like Emmanuel Goldberg, is a necessary projection. There has to be a command structure and an organization out there plotting against us, or we wouldn’t need the secret police to protect us from them. So, of course, you just have to take the word of the anonymous source from within the secret police that there is such a person as Mullah Mansour for you to hate on.

    What could be more clear or logical?

  88. 88
    Montysano says:

    @Svensker:

    Perhaps if we stopped meddling in the Middle East, people who live in that region wouldn’t want to try to hurt us. Or is it really our freedoms that bug them?

    Yeah, OK, but how can we stop meddling as long as our oil is under their sand?

  89. 89
    gene108 says:

    @Brachiator: Sorry for misunderstanding…

    Trying to concentrate on important stuff, like this blog, while dodging work seems to be harder than usual today :-)

  90. 90
    Montysano says:

    @gene108:

    Trying to concentrate on important stuff, like this blog, while dodging work seems to be harder than usual today :-)

    I’ve worked at the same company for 20 years, and people ask me why I have a cubicle in the corner instead of the more prestigious cubes out in the center of the room.

    So I can tend to the really important business, that’s why…

  91. 91
    Gina says:

    Wow. Now I’m actually interested in what the new WikiLeaks info dump will contain.

  92. 92
    Brachiator says:

    @WyldPirate:

    good FSM, but I knew i could count on a load of verbal diarrhea from one of the Obots.

    So let me do the short version for you. I could hardly be an Obot if I am declaring his Afghan/Pakistan policy to be inept.

    The rest of your post is similarly a mixture of nonsense, cliche and deliberate misreading. One clear example:

    RE: We cannot win in the region militarily, and the Obama Adminstration’s attempts at diplomacy are being both blocked and mocked. So my conclusion is that US efforts in the region are futile.

    For FSM-sake. This was blindingly obvious to anyone that had paid any attention to the Soviet involvement in the region at all. If Obama and his advisors are so goddamned ignorant of history then they fucking well deserve to be “mocked and blocked”.

    No one knows what the Soviets might have accomplished with their military had they not been opposed by the US and others. And since the Soviets never had any use for diplomacy, your response about what might be “blindingly obvious” is nonsensical.

    Also, this has nothing to do with Obama’s ignorance of history, and everything to do with the ineptitude of his foreign policy team, and their continued manipulation by Pakistan and other supposed allies.

    But hey, thanks for trying.

  93. 93
    TJ says:

    ATTN:
    Dear Sir/MGeneral,
    I am Mr.David Mark. an Auditor of a BANK OF THE NORTH
    INTERNATIONAL,ABUJAAFGHANISTAN
    (FCT). I have the courage to Crave indulgence for this important business
    believing that you will never let me down
    either now or in the future. Some
    years ago, an American Mining
    consultant/ contractor with the Nigeria National
    Petroleum Corporation,
    made a numbered time (fixed)deposit for twelve calendar
    months, valued
    $12M.USD (TWELVE MILLION US DOLLARS) in an account
    Mullah Omar deposited one country with our bank. On maturity,
    The
    bank sent a routine notification to his forwarding address but got no
    reply.
    After a month, The bank sent another reminder and finally his
    contract
    employers, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
    the Taliban wrote
    to inform the bank
    that he died without MAKING A WILL, and all attempts
    by the American Embassy Afghanistanials to
    trace his next of kin was fruitless. I
    therefore, made further investigation and
    discovered that the
    beneficiary was an immigrant from Jamaica and only recently
    obtained
    American citizenship. He did not decla re any kin or relations in all
    his official documents, including his Bank deposit paper work. This
    money total
    amount$12M.USD ( TWELVE MILLION US DOLLARS)is still sitting
    in my bank as
    dormant Account
    you. No one will ever come forward to claim
    it, and according to
    Nigerian our Banking policy, after some years, the
    money will revert to the
    ownership of the igerian Government if the
    account owner is certified dead. This
    is the situation, and my proposal
    is that I am looking for a foreigner who will
    stand in as the next of
    kin to beneficiary, and OPEN a Bank Account abroad to
    facilitate the
    transfer of this money. This is simple, all you have to do is to
    OPEN
    an account anywhere in the world and send me its detail for me to
    arrange
    the proper money transfer paperwork, and facilitate the
    transfer.The money will
    then be paid into this Account for us to share
    in the ratio of 60% for me, 35 %
    for you and 5% for expenses that might
    come up during transfer process. There is
    no risk at all, and all the
    paper work for this transaction will be done by me
    using my position
    and connections in the banks in Nigeria
    afGhanistan will be yours. This business
    transaction is
    guaranteed.

  94. 94
    Joe says:

    Good thing for this guy we didn’t try to double cross him and drill “Masour” with a missile from a Predator drone. Luckily, our fearful leaders would never accidentally bomb the wrong people from a drone.

  95. 95
    WyldPirate says:

    @Brachiator:
    Please…

    So let me do the short version for you. I could hardly be an Obot if I am declaring his Afghan/Pakistan policy to be inept.

    You make excuse after excuse for him. You blame his foreign policy team. It’s not his fault you say, It’s theirs!

    News flash—The. Buck. Stops. At. Obama’s. Desk.

    No one knows what the Soviets might have accomplished with their military had they not been opposed by the US and others.

    No, we know something better. They fucking failed and got ran out of the goddamned country.

    Also, this has nothing to do with Obama’s ignorance of history, and everything to do with the ineptitude of his foreign policy team, and their continued manipulation by Pakistan and other supposed allies

    Now this shit kills me. In the paragraph before, you claim we can’t know what would have happened with the Soviets efforts if “they had not been opposed by the US and others”, yet in the next paragraph, you yak about the manipulation of his [Obama’s] foreign policy team while ignoring the fact that Pakistan is aa.) harboring OBL and AQ most likely and that their ISI and others are most likely aiding the resistance in Afghanistan against us.

    Contradict yourself much? Or do you even read what you write?

  96. 96
    Paul in KY says:

    Isn’t this a metaphor for our whole Afgan adventure? We evidently have such terrible intel or no one who speaks good enough Pashtun to figure out we are dealing with an Afgan wiseass conman.

    You don’t want to know how much we paid him.

  97. 97
    AZERTY says:

    Gosh, maybe if they X-Rayed his fuckin’ junk, this wouldn’t have happened.

    Maybe they’ll think of THAT next time.

  98. 98
    Sour Kraut says:

    We evidently have such terrible intel or no one who speaks good enough Pashtun to figure out we are dealing with an Afgan wiseass conman.

    Well, we had some Army translators with expertise in Arabic but they turned out to be teh Ghey so we gave them pinkslips. Priorities!

  99. 99
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Guess who’s never going to have to bend over to pick up a rock at a stoning in the SWAT Valley the rest of his life?

  100. 100
    Brachiator says:

    @WyldPirate:
    You keep bringing the foolish. It’s quite entertaining. You wrote:

    You make excuse after excuse for him. You blame his foreign policy team. It’s not his fault you say, It’s theirs!

    Do you really have the reading comprehension of a dull 4 year old child?

    I wrote: So let me do the short version for you. I could hardly be an Obot if I am declaring his Afghan/Pakistan policy to be inept.

    I did not write: “I could hardly be an Obot if I am declaring his team’s Afghan/Pakistan policy to be inept.”

    If you do not understand the difference, please have someone explain it to you. Slowly. Even if you think you understand the difference, please have someone explain it to you. Slowly.

    Once again, the rest of your post is nonsense.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Isn’t this a metaphor for our whole Afgan adventure? We evidently have such terrible intel or no one who speaks good enough Pashtun to figure out we are dealing with an Afgan wiseass conman.

    To be fair, we invaded Iraq on the word of a wiseass Iraqi con man who was also working for Iran, so it’s not really a brand-new mistake.

    I would love to see Petraeus fired over this, but I doubt it’ll happen.

  102. 102
    Acharn says:

    I’ve been wondering for some time how much credit to put in the assurances from CENTCOM and SOFCOM about how careful they are to make sure they’re assassinating the right people with their drones. If they can’t even identify a guy in the same room with them, talking with them, I don’t guess I have to spend much more time thinking about it.

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