I’ve been following the news of the last couple days about the capture of the No. 2 in command of the Taliban (now under arrest in Pakistan), Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

It’s been a fascinating story to watch.  First, it’s a serious blow to the insurgency (I heard on NPR this morning that delegations of the Afghan government and the Taliban are meeting, possibly to discuss peace).

What will be especially interesting is getting this man to talk about where Mullah Omar and even bin Laden are hiding out.  Imagine demolishing the top-level Taliban and its vestiges even before the major troop surge planned.  It would turn that operation into a mop-up task rather than a cut-and-run plan.  But still, it’s early to tell.

It’s also interesting to hear of the intrigue around the capture.  Apparently, it had happened several days prior; one Western newspaper (the name escapes me) had reliable information about it, but was asked by Washington to withhold releasing the information.

Finally, it’s also interesting how effective the propaganda campaign being fought by the Taliban is.  They’ve been denying the capture for days now, and I don’t doubt that they’ve been effective in their message.  The Taliban have played up the deaths of civilians by NATO forces for years, while downplaying their own brutality (I saw a figure recently that of all civilian deaths, 75% were caused by Taliban).  It seems the Afghan government needs to better control their message if this war is to be successful.

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