Tuesday, February 22, 2005

First Time magazine tells us that members of the U.S. military are negotiating with a rebel leader in Iraq. Then England's Telegraph notes that a former Taliban commander is urging militants in Afghanistan to accept Hamid Karzai's amnesty, lay down their arms, and abandon jihad against Americans.

Why are we hearing all this now? It seems to me that somebody wants it reported at this time.

I'm thinking about a time-honored precinct-house practice: separating people who are suspected of the same crime and telling them, in their separate interrogation rooms, "Look, your buddy already confessed." I think these stories are being floated because the administration wants to send a message to its enemies: "Look, some of your buddies have given up."

Of course, the Iraqi leader mentioned in the Time story represents only a small faction of the Iraqi insurgency (the ex-Baathists, not the Islamicists -- who are, among other things, bombing hair salons where Western-style barbering is taking place). And the ex-Taliban commander was in Guantanamo, so it's not clear that he's really representative of the fighters who've been at large since Kabul fell. (He actually began his pro-Karzai campaign in October, when he returned to Afghanistan, as The Economist reported a few months ago.) But who the hell knows? Maybe it'll work.

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