It is impossible — absolutely freakin’ impossible — to find a better example of the utter cluelessness of the people who tell us that we are making progress in Afghanistan.
It turns out that the “high level Taliban” official who we thought we were negotiating peace with is an imposter. Sweet Jesus Soap on a Rope. Even the Taliban was telling us this was not on the up and up:
The Taliban movement all along has issued strenuous public denials that meetings between emissaries of the movement and the Karzai government have been taking place.
And here’s the, um, money quote:
KABUL, Afghanistan — 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.” [emphasis added]
But it’s not a spy novel. We were just the mark for a common grifter. You have to wonder who in the Afghan government was in on it.