Walter Mitty crashes Taliban-Afghan peace talks

Well, this is certainly embarrassing, but don't fret it. Eventually, we'll be able to clearly see that "smart" foreign policy we've been promised.

As a metaphor for what's happening in Afghanistan, a Hollywood producer couldn't come up with anything better. In fact, Hollywood already has. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring Danny Kaye as a mild mannered fantasist who daydreams his way into heroic situations is quite entertaining. Too bad the people responsible for this clusterfark never saw it.

A lowly shopkeeper from Quetta, Pakistan dreamed of being a Taliban commander and NATO, the Afghan government, and the US military fulfilled his wish by mistaking him for a senior Taliban leader:

His daring ruse has flummoxed those attempting to start a peace process with a determined Taliban adversary."He was a very clever man," one of the officials said.

The man claimed to be Akthar Mohammad Mansour, the second-ranking Taliban commander after Mohammad Omar, and he met with Karzai and Afghan officials at least twice in recent months to discuss possible peace negotiations, according to the Afghan officials.

He was flown to Kabul on British military aircraft for the meetings and persuasively portrayed himself as a fighter who spoke for the movement, the officials said. But after showing photographs of the man to those who know the insurgent leader, the Afghan officials have concluded that he was an impostor.

The episode underscores the difficulty of separating truth from deception on the path to peace and has chastened those who had initial high hopes about how quickly the negotiations were progressing.

There is speculation that the man was sent by Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI to see how far President Karzai would go in negotiations. I wouldn't put it past them, but I think it equally likely that this fellow from Quetta simply wanted to be someone important and the Afghans and NATO fell for it.

Let the late night talk show jokes, blogospheric snark, and tsk-tsking from pundits begin.



Well, this is certainly embarrassing, but don't fret it. Eventually, we'll be able to clearly see that "smart" foreign policy we've been promised.

As a metaphor for what's happening in Afghanistan, a Hollywood producer couldn't come up with anything better. In fact, Hollywood already has. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring Danny Kaye as a mild mannered fantasist who daydreams his way into heroic situations is quite entertaining. Too bad the people responsible for this clusterfark never saw it.

A lowly shopkeeper from Quetta, Pakistan dreamed of being a Taliban commander and NATO, the Afghan government, and the US military fulfilled his wish by mistaking him for a senior Taliban leader:

His daring ruse has flummoxed those attempting to start a peace process with a determined Taliban adversary.

"He was a very clever man," one of the officials said.

The man claimed to be Akthar Mohammad Mansour, the second-ranking Taliban commander after Mohammad Omar, and he met with Karzai and Afghan officials at least twice in recent months to discuss possible peace negotiations, according to the Afghan officials.

He was flown to Kabul on British military aircraft for the meetings and persuasively portrayed himself as a fighter who spoke for the movement, the officials said. But after showing photographs of the man to those who know the insurgent leader, the Afghan officials have concluded that he was an impostor.

The episode underscores the difficulty of separating truth from deception on the path to peace and has chastened those who had initial high hopes about how quickly the negotiations were progressing.

There is speculation that the man was sent by Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI to see how far President Karzai would go in negotiations. I wouldn't put it past them, but I think it equally likely that this fellow from Quetta simply wanted to be someone important and the Afghans and NATO fell for it.

Let the late night talk show jokes, blogospheric snark, and tsk-tsking from pundits begin.



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