Monday, February 22, 2010

Taliban capture not bad, but strategic?

It certainly counts as good news that one Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, said to be the Taliban military commander and second-in-command to the reclusive Mullah Omar, was captured a week or so in Karachi -- a port city far from the embattled frontier provinces -- in Pakistan. As this Register editorial notes, the war in Afghanistan was and is a bad idea, but any time an enemy of U.S. troops is neutralized, especially if there's a chance of getting actionable intelligence from him, that's not a bad thing. The people in the military don't set policies.

It's fascinating how many different stories about the capture are being bandied about, however. David Ignatius of the WaPo, who has a lot of CIA sources (and on some occasions is something of a shill), says the US and Pakistani intelligence folks had a surefire "no-fooling" tip that Baradar was going to be in that house. On the other hand, the NYT reports that Baradar was a bonus of the raid -- they had no idea he was there and it took them a while to figure out what -- who -- they had.

It's likely that it will be weeks before we have a semi-accurate idea of how Baradar was captured, and there are certain things we will never know. The important things is that it shouoldn't have been necessary and may not be the least bit important to U.S. interests. The only real U.S. interest is al-Qaida, not the Taliban, and being in a military adventure in Afghanistan and working with the sinister Pakistani ISI may well be the worst possible ways to do anything effective about al-Qaida -- which is nowhere near as formidable as our masters want us to believe anyway.

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